Restless legs during pregnancy

Pregnant woman sitting on a table with compression socks.
And a tickling feeling in your legs? You can't keep your legs still, especially when you just go to sleep? And you are pregnant?
Yes, then you probably suffer from restless legs during your pregnancy.

In this article we try to convey the good information about this pregnancy ailment to you as concisely and clearly as possible. Let's go.

What Are Restless Legs During Pregnancy?


Restless legs is that annoying feeling in your legs that forces you to move them. The annoying feeling can be described as itching and jitters. Especially when you want to go to sleep, this can be very disturbing. In addition, it can also cost you precious hours of sleep, which you already need extra during your pregnancy.

Restless legs, restless legs or restless legs (RLS) is a condition that occurs in 25% of pregnant women. Not an unknown pregnancy ailment. Pregnant women are therefore two to three times more likely to suffer from restless legs than the rest of the population.

(Pregnancy as a risk factor for restless legs syndrome Mauro Manconia,*, Vittorio Govonic , Alessandro De Vitoc , Nicolas Tiberio Economouc , Edward Cesnikc , Gioacchino Mollicab , Enrico Granieric)

Let's answer your most important question right away: is restless legs during pregnancy dangerous?

No. Restless legs are not dangerous. The ailment can cause the necessary disruption of sleep, and therefore fatigue. Restless legs can occur from the beginning of pregnancy, but often the symptoms are most severe around the seventh and eighth months (third trimester).

Often restless legs are also accompanied by cramps in other parts of the legs, such as in the calves.

Restless legs often persist throughout pregnancy, but the condition quickly goes away after you give birth.

What Causes Restless Legs?

The cause of restless legs is still unclear. Yet there have been many studies into the possible causes. These studies indicate the following:

  • Many doctors claim that the pregnancy ailment is related to less good blood circulation in the legs. During pregnancy you will have to deal (more) with the hormone progesterone. This hormone causes your blood vessels to weaken, which leads to reduced blood flow in the legs. This leads to restless legs.
  • Some studies claim that the condition is simply hereditary. Based on your genes, you may or may not suffer from restless legs.
  • Deficiency of vitamins. Because you are pregnant, your body naturally needs more vitamins. A deficiency in these vitamins would also contribute to the symptoms of restless legs during pregnancy.
  • Iron deficiency. Again, your body has a lot to endure during pregnancy. A deficiency of iron, which can then arise, would also cause restless legs.
  • Folic acid deficiency. Same as iron deficiency. During pregnancy you can get all kinds of deficiencies, including a folic acid deficiency. Such a deficiency can also contribute to restless legs during pregnancy.
  • Nerve compression in the legs is also sometimes the cause of restless legs. You will also be less able to move your legs and often experience pain.
  • Kidneys. When the kidneys work less well, the symptoms of restless legs can also increase. Only then the restless legs will most likely not be the only complaints you experience.

What to do against restless legs: tips that you can implement yourself

The causes are quite different and that is why there are many different solutions or exercises against restless legs. These ideas all came about to alleviate the symptoms, not to prevent the disease altogether.

What not to do with restless legs during pregnancy


  • Drinking coffee, especially before going to bed, is disastrous
  • Using devices with blue light (such as television or telephone) shortly before going to bed.
  • Do not sit and stand for too long in a row. Try to move and alternate between standing and sitting. Especially during pregnancy, this can cause less good blood flow, which in turn leads to restless legs.


What to do with restless legs during pregnancy


  • Try to elevate the legs while sleeping. For example, by putting a pillow under your legs when you go to sleep. It is also useful to only go to bed when you really want to sleep. This way you won't look too much at your mobile just before you go to sleep.
  • Massage the legs before going to bed. This ensures better blood flow and your legs will feel a lot lighter.
  • An easy way to combat restless legs during your pregnancy is to use compression socks. These are socks that give a light pressure on the (lower) legs, which stimulates blood flow in the legs. As a result, you will experience less restless legs.
  • This tip is very vague, but people swear by it. Use a bar of soap and place it under your fitted sheet, where your feet are. So there is no evidence for this, but for some people this works extremely well.
  • In case of a vitamin deficiency you should therefore get more vitamins. For this you can mainly focus on getting vitamin B12.
  • The same goes for an iron deficiency. In this case, try to eat things with a lot of iron, such as bananas and whole grain products. You can also consider taking iron tablets (always discuss such things with your doctor).
  • In case of a folic acid deficiency you will be able to take supplements. This should also be discussed with your doctor.
  • Does it still happen that the restless legs strike while you are lying in bed? Then get out of bed, walk around and stretch the calves slightly with stretching exercises.

Exercises against restless legs

If you want to actively prevent restless legs, you can consider doing the following exercises:

  • Toe flexes
  • Air cycling: Lie on the floor, on your back. Put your legs in the air and make a cycling motion with your legs.
  • Yoga. Try some yoga exercises before you go to sleep. This can also help you relax.

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Niek van Spronsen

Niek has been part of the STOX Energy Socks team since 2022, writing informative and inspiring articles about compression socks, sports, health, and nutrition. With a passion for an active and healthy lifestyle, Niek shares valuable tips and advice to help athletes and health-conscious readers improve their performance and well-being.

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