When it comes to pregnancy symptoms, there are quite a few common ones that usually come to mind: nausea, vomiting, feeling tired, and all sorts of aches and pains. One symptom that is pretty common but not always talked about is the feeling of “restless legs.” Restless legs is usually described as burning, itching, pulling, or “creepy crawly,” feeling with an uncomfortable urge to move your legs. The reason this symptom occurs is not well understood, but it is thought to be connected to an imbalance of dopamine (which is a neurotransmitter, or chemical in your brain). So what can you do to help this particularly annoying symptoms?
Iron: iron is an important element for many reasons, but it is also a precursor to dopamine. Studies have shown that iron deficiency is linked to restless legs, so boosting iron in your diet or with a supplement can help kick the creepy crawlies! Good sources of iron in your diet include meat, beans, tofu, fortified cereals, leafy greens, apricots, or pumpkin seeds. Make sure you include vitamin C when you are eating iron to help absorb it – citrus, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and potatoes are good options. Iron supplements may be recommended, but check with your provider before supplementing. We often recommend Floradix which is a plant-based liquid iron, since it does not have as many side effects as iron tablets
Magnesium: magnesium is a great supplement for many pregnancy-related discomforts, and often helps with nerve discomfort. You can get magnesium supplements in many forms, and one particularly helpful one is CALM powder before bed. You can also use magnesium tablets. Make sure you add calcium to help with absorption of magnesium.
Stay active: exercise and stretching on a regular basis can help. Strive for an average of 30 minutes a day, modifying exercises and intensity as needed. Try to avoid exercising right before going to bed, as it may worsen insomnia
Heat: taking a warm bath or shower before going to bed can help with symptoms (and help you sleep better!)
If your symptoms do not resolve with these initial measures, please talk to a provider at your next prenatal appointment