Restless Leg Syndrome
in Pregnancy

Restless leg syndrome in pregnancy is very common. If you're pregnant and suffering from RLS, you are not alone!

Recent studies show that RLS/pregnany prevalence rates range from 11 to 33 percent, with PLM rates at 37 to 40 percent.

Restless Leg Syndrome Pregnancy Causes and Symptoms

Iron and folate deficiency have been mentioned as possible causes, along with anemia, hormonal changes, and vascular congestion.

One expert, Dr. Christopher Earley, believes the issue is nutrient deficiency: "The fetus takes all the iron and folic acid and so forth. You can often avoid RLS in pregnancy with high-dose folic acid and iron and vitamin supplements. We absolutely saw iron deficiency and a correlation with symptoms when we replenished patients' iron stores. Their symptoms got dramatically better--both their RLS and the PLM."

Many women suffer the symptoms of RLS and PLM during pregnancy, but few mention them to their doctor or obstetric care-giver, perhaps partly because they have more riveting concerns about their health or the health of their fetus; they may also feel embarrassed about mentioning their inability to sit still. Also, as with many nightwalkers, they may feel, often correctly, that their doctor won't know what they're talking about.

It would be wise for you to describe any RLS symptoms to your doctor. You may be upset to discover that if you had RLS before pregnancy, that the symptoms are quite severe. This could be happening because one or more of your medications was stop to protect your baby, or it could be caused by hormonal changes or other stress factors.

The use of vitamin and mineral supplements by pregnant women with RLS is approved by most obstetric caregivers. The most important of these supplements are iron, magnesium, vitamin b12, and folate. Of these the most important is folate, the use of which reduces the possibility of birth defects.

Some experts recommend taking iron and magnesium together to reduce the possible side effects: constipation in the case of iron, diarrhea in the case of magnesium. If you are pregnant, consult a physician before taking vitamin supplements or medications for RLS.

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Source: Yoakum, Robert H. Restless Legs Syndrome: Relief and Hope for Sleepless Victoms of a Hidden Epidemic. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006.