Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy

Restless leg syndrome during pregnancy may appear in the third trimester and causes difficulty falling asleep. Learn more.
Restless Leg Syndrome During Pregnancy
Mara Amor López

Written and verified by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Last update: 10 May, 2023

Restless leg syndrome during pregnancy is one of the many symptoms that a woman’s body can experience during this stage. Although it’s not as well known as others, it can affect pregnant women, especially in the third trimester. Do you want to know what it is? In this article, we tell you all about it.

This problem negatively affects the quality of sleep of the person who suffers from it because of the symptoms it presents. Moreover, it doesn’t only appear in pregnant women, but also in any person and at any age. Keep reading to learn more about this syndrome if you’re expecting a baby.

What is restless leg syndrome during pregnancy?

The prevalence of this syndrome in pregnant women is 12 to 20%. In the general population, it affects between 5 and 12%. These data have been obtained from a study carried out at the Hospital Virgen de la Luz Cuenca in Spain.

This problem usually appears in the third trimester, in the final stretch of pregnancy, and causes a tingling or burning sensation in the lower extremities. In addition, as it usually appears at night, it causes the leg to move a lot to alleviate the symptoms, which makes it difficult to fall asleep

In addition, this syndrome is not only found in pregnant women, but can occur in anyone at any age.

A pregnant woman who's unable to sleep.
The main complaint of people suffering from restless leg syndrome is the difficulty in getting adequate sleep. Tiredness, irritability, and mood swings may also appear.


Although it has been studied in depth, there are still many doubts about the reasons for this syndrome, although two types have been defined:

  1. Chronic: In this case, restless leg syndrome is related to a genetic factor.
  2. Secondary: It occurs when the sufferer has low iron levels.

In the case of pregnant women, the appearance of this syndrome may be due to a set of hormonal changes or to the baby’s growth. This situation causes changes in the pelvis that lead to discomfort. In most cases, the condition disappears in the postpartum period.


The symptoms that most identify this problem are the burning and tingling sensation in the legs, especially in the ankles. Both usually appear when the person is at rest. Other symptoms reported by sufferers are the following:

  • Itching
  • Tingling
  • Restlessness and internal nervousness 
  • An internal hot-cold sensation, as if spiders or worms were crawling around
  • Prickling
  • The sensation of an electric current
A pregnant woman meditating.
Activities to distract yourself, such as relaxation practices, exercise, painting, or puzzles, can be useful to combat restless leg syndrome during pregnancy.

Treatment of restless leg syndrome during pregnancy

In the case of pregnant women, it’s usually a temporary situation. Therefore, after childbirth, it usually disappears. For this reason, no specific treatment is required, although there are a series of recommendations to alleviate the symptoms.

  • Go for a walk and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Take a supplement in the case that it’s due to low iron levels.
  • Don’t drink caffeine.
  • Massage your legs.
  • Take hot or cold water baths.
  • Practice relaxation.
  • Do another activity that helps us to distract your (puzzles, crossword puzzles, painting, chess, meditation, or exercise).
  • Avoid abundant dinners and foods that can be irritating.
  • Avoid stress and being in very hot environments.
  • Use folic acid or vitamin B12 as treatment.

In addition to all these measures, it’s important to consult your doctor if you suffer from this problem during pregnancy. It may be necessary for the professional to control other parameters such as iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. The alteration or lack of any of them can intensify the symptoms.

Everything should be resolved with the arrival of the child

We’ve already seen that restless leg syndrome during pregnancy can be temporary. If the symptoms persist after the baby is born, it may be a genetic or other issue that should be discussed with your doctor. In general, this problem disappears after childbirth, although there are women who stop suffering from it even before. So, if you’re pregnant and you have this problem, be patient, as soon as your baby arrives, this will be over.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Herraiz de Castro, C., González Martínez, F., Baena Angulo, A. M., & Alcántara Alejo, M. (2007). Síndrome de las piernas inquietas en el embarazo. Atención primaria, 39(11), 625–626.
  • Reyes, O. A. (2018). Síndrome de las piernas inquietas en el embarazo. Revista de la Federación Centroamericana de Obstetricia y Ginecología, 2009(14).
  • Álvarez-Aguilar, D., Valero-Roncero, J., Pérez-Rodríguez, E., & Sánchez-Márquez, G. (2010). Trastornos del sueño durante el embarazo. Matronas profesión, 11(1), 11-17.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.