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Restless Legs in Pregnancy

Restless legs syndrome is a symptom in the form of regular discomfort in the lower extremities, accompanied by the need for constant movement. It is also called Willis-Ekbom disease. The syndrome appears in the evening and at night. Paresthesias in the legs cause a lot of problems and discomfort. They do not allow a pregnant woman to sleep, irritate, or increase forced motor activity.

Restless legs are a neurological disease. It normally appears during pregnancy for a short time without turning into a chronic form. The symptom appears for secondary reasons during the gestation period.

When Restless Legs Start in Pregnancy?

Restless legs begin to torment a pregnant woman in the third trimester. They rarely occur in the second trimester. It is at these times that iron deficiency may appear – this is the main cause of restless legs syndrome. With a genetic predisposition to the syndrome, its symptoms will be enhanced and may begin even in the first trimester.


Most women complain of discomfort in the limbs at the 27th week of pregnancy. There may be problems with the production of dopamine. Some note that they have a disorder in the sensitivity of the legs at the 25th week. Pregnant women notice vivid symptoms at the 32nd-33rd weeks of pregnancy.

Restless Legs pregnancy weeks

When will it end?

The manifestation of restless legs syndrome is most often episodic. Symptoms should subside a couple of weeks after the first appearance. Around the end of the 33rd week. Normally, the legs do not bother a woman regularly every night. The syndrome can become part of the gestation period if there are problems with the outflow of blood, venous dilation, overweight or poor nutrition.

How Do Restless Legs Feel?

During the period of anxiety attacks of the legs, a woman feels their increased sensitivity and unbearable internal movement. It seems to a pregnant woman that her muscles and tendons are contracting, colic, goosebumps, burning, and a feeling of tension in internal tissues appears. The woman wants to move her legs and find a position in which the symptoms will go away.

Some women may confuse restless leg syndrome with cramps. Similar symptoms are characteristic of this disease.


The syndrome in an acute form appears very often. It becomes unbearable for a woman. The legs are strongly pulled, they ache, turn out, itch. There is a feeling of movement under the skin, a feeling of compression, and a lack of relaxation. The movement of the legs does not help alleviate the situation.


Restless legs in a mild form are manifested by episodes several times a week. The legs are tormented by aching sensations, slight tingling, and increased sensitivity. A change of position and massage well alleviate the symptoms.

Restless legs syndrome does not pose a threat to the mother and fetus.

Prevention methods

Preventive measures to combat restless legs include general wellness activities and specific actions. You need to identify your predisposition to this disease and be prepared for its appearance during the gestation period. You can minimize the symptoms by finding out the secondary causes of the syndrome. Consider specific ways to prevent the syndrome:

Treatment of foot problems

It is necessary to immediately carry out therapy with existing blood flow disorders, venous varicose veins, and injuries. These factors greatly affect the condition of the legs during pregnancy. There is a risk of developing associated symptoms, including restless leg syndrome.

The manifestation of similar symptoms before pregnancy may indicate the presence of rheumatic diseases, kidney problems, and diabetes. A woman needs to deal with these problems in time.

Get enough sleep regularly

Regular lack of sleep provokes serious hormonal disruptions. The production of dopamine, which is responsible for controlling movements, is greatly reduced. Legs become uncontrollable. Good, deep, and constant sleep normalizes the work of all neurotransmitters and improves hormonal levels. Restless legs symptoms go away.

Vitamin diet

Iron deficiency has been noted as the main cause of restless leg syndrome. The lack of this trace element disrupts the work of dopamine, which controls muscle activity and movement. There is a feeling of restlessness in the limbs. Enrich your diet with iron-rich foods: red meat, liver, spinach, legumes, seafood, and apples.

Why Restless Legs Occur in Pregnancy?

The causes of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy are combined. The first and most common is iron deficiency anemia. The need for iron during the gestation period increases by 3-4 times. Microelement deficiency appears if this is not taken into account. It causes dysfunction of the dopaminergic system of the brain.

The neurotransmitter dopamine is responsible for motor function. Various health problems appear, including Willis-Ekbom disease if his work is disturbed. Another cause of the syndrome may be high levels of estradiol, the main type of estrogen hormone.

Among the less common and not the main causes of the disease, there is a violation of the outflow of blood in the legs, a lack of folic acid and magnesium, kidney failure, and a deficiency of B vitamins.


The best way to deal with Restless Leg Syndrome is to address the cause of it. Medical and non-pharmacological means of combating the disease are used. Only a doctor can prescribe medication during pregnancy. They will be local. Such remedies are used rarely and only in very acute cases. Non-drug remedies for the syndrome are much more widely used:


Do the calf, foot, and toe rub every night before bed. This will help improve blood flow, improve muscle condition, and relax your legs. The syndrome will appear less frequently and to a mild degree. The massage effect is enhanced by relaxing essential oils of lavender, peppermint, and rosemary. They need to be dissolved in any fatty oil – olive, almond, coconut, or jojoba.

Contrast shower

Blood flow and lymph flow are normalized with regular use of a contrast shower on the legs. Vessels are narrowed and their walls are strengthened. Increases muscle tone. A contrast shower relaxes, soothes, and promotes fast falling asleep. The method can be used both on the whole body and separately on the legs.

Iron intake

Reception of this microelement can be prescribed in case of iron deficiency and a strong manifestation of restless legs syndrome. The appointment of such drugs should be under the strict supervision of a physician. He will determine the dose and period of admission. It is impossible to decide on your own whether you need additional iron or not. An excess of this trace element can lead to complications.


It is worth contacting a therapist, phlebologist, or neurologist if the syndrome occurs in an acute form. This must be done if the legs disturb every night, do not calm down for a long time, and do not let you sleep. The consequences of sleep disorders will be much more serious than discomfort in the legs.

It is worth getting an examination if restlessness in the legs is accompanied by a nagging pain in the lower back, painful urination, and cloudy urine. Perhaps there is a violation in the work of the kidneys.

What Not to Do

It is better not to try to sleep if the syndrome has caught you in bed. You need to relax, get up and walk. Don’t wait for the symptoms to go away on their own. Help yourself. Do not use drastic measures and non-traditional methods of assistance. Any use of pharmaceuticals must be agreed upon with the doctor. Prohibitions for Restless Leg Syndrome:

Do not take anti-inflammatory drugs

The nature of the origin of the syndrome lies in other reasons. It is not associated with inflammatory processes. Even painkillers may not help in such a situation.

Do not load your legs

Physical activity is a good solution to the issue of relieving symptoms only if it is moderate. A long stay in a standing or sitting position can provoke a syndrome.

Do not use antidepressants and sedatives

The use of these drugs is prohibited during pregnancy. The mechanism of the appearance of restless legs is not eliminated by sedative drugs.

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