Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert. I am just a crazy pregnant lady who wants other crazy pregnant ladies to know they are not alone.
Let me give you a little background…
Baby #1 – I acquire this strange sensation in my legs late in pregnancy. My legs shake all the time, I can’t sleep, I have to get out of the car every 15 minutes, I feel like I could run a marathon on the pent-up energy in my legs. OB says he’s never heard of such a thing.
Baby #2 – Nothing
Baby #3 – I have the same feeling, but this time have a name for it…Restless Legs Syndrome. I often have to bounce on my birthing ball at night until I am so exhausted I fall into bed.
Baby #4 – Nothing
Baby #5 – The RLS is so bad I pace the floor nearly all night every night toward the end. In addition to this, I am itchy. I feel desperate.
Baby #6 – Nothing
Baby #7 – When I am away from home, it hits. I have trouble falling asleep. I jar myself awake with the shaking. I feel anxious. However, at home, I am able to cope.
Restless Legs is a horrible, awful thing. The worst it ever got was with Emily, my 5th child. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even sit still. Sometimes, it felt like bugs were biting me. I couldn’t have the children sit on my lap because their weight made it worse. I hated for night to come because I knew I would not sleep until well into the morning hours. I started having mini-panic attacks. In short, I felt crazy.
My whole neurological system was out of whack. I spent hours searching for remedies and relief. This post is a direct result of what I discovered. I humbly offer what helped me in the hopes someone else will find relief too.
*Take a Liquid Calcium Magnesium Citrate supplement
This was one of the first things I tried. It did offer some relief for a couple of weeks, but then suddenly stopped working. However, I have heard of others having good luck with it.
NOTE January 2016: I now use Magnesium Lotion. This one is a high quality and less likely to cause itching:
*Take Rhus Tox
This was suggested by a friend who had a lot of homeopathic knowledge. This offered much more relief than the liquid calcium/magnesium. They come in little pellets you let melt under your tongue.
*Take a warm bath
The heat was soothing and calming, and I rarely shook while in the tub.
*Scrub legs down with a bath brush or loofah
Something about this caused my nerves to have to “think” about something else rather than shaking.
*Use unscented soap.
Scented soaps really did a number on me. Using something like Ivory made life much more bearable.
*Keep legs shaved.
It wasn’t a luxury, it was medicinal and HAD to be done…even if it meant having my husband do it.
*Keep skin well-hydrated with natural products.
Again, I couldn’t use anything that had scents or weird things added to it. One of my favorite natural products for keeping my legs from getting too dry is a lotion bar from HardLotion.com. The ingredients are simple and natural and it goes on without creating a greasy mess.
*Buying higher thread count sheets
I know this sounds crazy, but I really did sleep better when we splurged and bought at least 300 thread count sheets. My legs were so sensitive to the pilling of the cheaper sheets, that I felt as if needles were pricking me. Higher thread count sheets don’t pill.
*Sleep with music
It might seem contradictory to have music playing when you are already having trouble sleeping; however, this is another case of getting your mind to think about something else. With Baby #1, I would put on Enya’s Watermark every night. Usually by the 5th track I was asleep and could manage to stay that way.
Sadly, the disruption of someone else tossing and turning in bed was often enough to pull me out of a decent sleep and start my legs a movin’. I slept much better during the day…in my bed…alone. Napping is how I managed to keep up on my sleep with all the short nights I was enduring.
Yet another example of forcing your brain to think about something other than the RLS. Some smells would send me reeling, but things like lemon and cinnamon seemed to calm me.
*See a chiropractor
I was able to get some relief with Baby #3 by going to see a chiropractor. This was something I did not try with Baby #5, but should have.
*Avoid tight clothing
Anything that was even remotely constricting, especially in the belly and legs, made me crazy. Now let me tell ya, when you have a belly the size of mine, it isn’t easy finding something that isn’t constricting.
*Do something else
This is still working off my theory that you can get your mind to shut down the RLS if you force it to move in a different direction. Now, I’m not talking about doing something simple. I’m talking about making your mind work. I’ve done everything from typing articles on the computer to playing sudoku. Things that forced me to really think had the best effect.
I firmly believe Restless Legs Syndrome is highly misunderstood and not something to be taken lightly, especially by medical practitioners. It can make a person feel as if they are going insane. That is never a minor thing. I wish I had all the answers of how to keep RLS at bay, but I do know that finding something, anything, that gives you even an ounce of relief is better than just living with it.
I’d love to hear from you any experiences you’ve had with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and what you have found to work that may not be listed here.
NOTE: Please read the comments below! They are full of experiences from others.