Restless leg syndrome when pregnant

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition characterized by a tingling in the legs and a constant need to move them. Although RLS can occur in all people, many pregnant women are susceptible to RLS, particularly if they were already affected prior to becoming pregnant, or have a family history of Restless Leg Syndrome.

What causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

Nobody knows for certain what causes RLS, but its higher incidence in pregnant women is documented. Because of this, many researchers believe it could be caused by deficiencies in iron or folate, as well as dietary changes. Fluctuating hormones (dopamine) and constrained blood flow to the lower half could also be explanations.


Drugs that are prescribed to treat RLS in non-pregnant people may not be safe to take while carrying Baby. Instead, try adding more iron or folate to your diet, and take a nice hot bath. Cold packs might also help alleviate the aggravation, as could some good, regular exercise. Restless legs, and leg pain in general during pregnancy, will probably go away soon after delivery, so this is one of those symptoms that you might just have to sit tight, and wait for it to disappear.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • Djokanovic N, Garcia-Bournissen F, Koren G. "Medications for restless legs syndrome in pregnancy." Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada. 30(6):505-7. Web. 6/8/2015.
  • "Vital Considerations in Treating a Pregnant Woman." Pregnancy and RLS. Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, 2015. Web.
  • Manconi M, Govoni V, De Vito A, Economou NT, Cesnik E, Mollica G, Granieri E. "Pregnancy as a risk factor for restless legs syndrome." Sleep Medicine. 5(3):305-8. Web. 5/4/2015.
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