Many women are likely to experience some aches and pains in their legs as their weight increases through pregnancy and they adjust their posture to carry their bump. Some will also experience swollen ankles or leg cramps. However, one of the most distracting conditions in pregnancy can be Restless Legs Syndrome, which can affect as much as 20 per cent of all pregnancies.
RLS is a condition which affects many people (and can get worse as they get older), but for pregnant women, happily it is something which will pass after the birth.
What are the symptoms?
Most women who suffer from RLS complain of feeling like they want to 'shake their legs off', or of a creeping or tingling feeling in their legs. It tends to come on worse later in the day, which can mean nights of discomfort.
What can be done about it?
Unfortunately, because no-one knows exactly what causes RLS, there is no one cure.
Some people find that increasing their intake of iron, folates and magnesium can help, which suggests that their condition is triggered by a nutritional lack in these areas. This may well be a cause during pregnancy, when your body needs more of several different nutrients.
People are usually advised to cut down on caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. Although hopefully a pregnant woman has already cut down on these, it might be worth cutting out coffee and tea completely to see if this helps ease the condition.
It is worth trying to take regular (but mild) exercise and to have warm, relaxing baths (not too hot) and then massaging the legs, as some people find this helps.
In extreme cases, a GP may prescribe medication but there is no one medicine that works for everyone and these can be pretty heavy drugs that a pregnant women would be unable to take.
If you do suffer from the condition, share your worries with other people. Trying to relax can really help and it's important to know that the condition is not harming your baby. Also, if you did not suffer from RLS before pregnancy, it will most likely pass within a month of your child's birth.
For more information, visit this very useful website: National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke.