Numbness During Pregnancy – Causes and Remedies

Numbness During Pregnancy - Causes and Remedies

Pregnancy brings about a number of changes to the body and some of them can cause numbness in the arms, legs, belly or other parts of your body where you’ve never felt numb before. Often these episodes of numbness are not of concern. However, if they’re accompanied by other symptoms, they shouldn’t be ignored. Continue reading for all you need to know about numbness in pregnancy.

What is Numbness During Pregnancy?

Numbness or tingling during pregnancy is a loss of sensation or a feeling of pins-and-needles in the hands, arms, legs, feet and other areas of the body. It is a common symptom many women experience during pregnancy and it is usually caused by swelling in parts of the body that compress nerves or restrict blood flow. Numbness in pregnancy first trimester is often thought of as a symptom of pregnancy by many as the body starts to undergo changes to prepare for the baby. Numbness during the second trimester most often can be a result of improper sleeping posture as women start experimenting with new bodily postures while sitting and sleeping. The symptoms progressively get stronger during pregnancy third trimester. It is often a result of blood vessels or nerves getting compressed by the increased size of the uterus and the changes in sleeping postures.

When and Where Do Pregnant Women Experience Numbness

Numbness can be felt in many parts of the body during pregnancy, including the tongue and the face. Here are a few common ones:

  • Pregnant women often experience numbness in legs soon after waking up or after they’ve been sitting for long periods of time. The symptoms range from loss of sensation to tingling and pain which usually subsides by switching sides or changing posture.
  • Arm and hand numbness is also commonly reported by pregnant women soon after waking up from sleep or lifting heavy objects.
  • Stressed-out joints can also cause numbness in fingers.
  • Some pregnant women also experience numbness of tongue after intake of certain food, strain in the neck or sudden movements.

What Causes Pregnancy Numbness or Tingling?

Here are some of the causes of numbness or tingling during pregnancy:

  • Hormonal changes in the body can cause tingling and numbness. The hormone relaxin which is released late in the pregnancy has the effect of softening the pelvic opening and other joints. This can cause the body’s weight to pinch nerves in the joints and subsequently numb a related area.
  • Early pregnancy hormones cause the body to retain water which leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition which affects the hands and the arm. Women gain as much as 50% more blood during pregnancy to support the baby. This increased fluid can put pressure on the median nerve that runs in the arm causing pain. The symptoms include a numb tingling pain in the middle, index and ring fingers and pain that radiates up to the arm. The condition is fairly common and pregnancy increases the odds of developing it.
  • Anaemia caused by factors such as low red blood cell count, iron deficiency or genetic factors can also cause numbness, dizziness and pain.
  • Pain and numbness due to sciatica are experienced by almost all pregnant women. It is a shooting pain that runs all the way from the lower back down the whole length of the leg. It is much more common during the second and third trimester as the growing baby exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve in the lower back.

Pregnant woman feeling numbness in her hands

How to Cure Tingling or Numb Tongue

Numbness in the tongue may be due to many causes such as nerve compression, spinal compression, Bell’s palsy and allergic reactions. Figuring out the exact cause of your numbness can help treat it and here are a few suggestions on how to do so.

  • Maintain a diary to make note of the foods that cause numbness when you consume them. Also, maintain notes of other activities and times of the day when episodes of numbness come and go.
  • Avoid sudden or jerking movements of the neck. Sudden movements can apply pressure on the spinal nerves leading to the numbness that radiates across your face and tongue.
  • Do not strain your back by lifting weights or poor postures, especially in the third trimester.
  • Cut down on sodium. Foods rich in sodium can cause high blood pressure and water retention leading to numbness.
  • Low blood sugar levels can also cause numbness in the tongue, therefore eat at regular intervals.

How to Cure Numb Hands and Fingers

Pressure on the joints and nerves can cause numbness in hands and fingers, sometimes it could be the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are the remedies to it:

  • A hand or wrist splint worn to bed can help keep your hands immobile as you sleep. This can prevent it from bending in awkward ways that would numb it in the morning
  • A hand splint also ensures you don’t lie on your arm in the middle of the night in deep sleep which cuts off blood supply to the whole arm.

How to Cure Numb Stomach or Belly

Numbness in the belly is caused by the heavy uterus pressing on the nerves and blood vessels. Here are ways to prevent it:

  • Improve your posture while sitting and standing to avoid putting pressure on the lower abdomen.
  • While lying down change positions now and then to relieve pressure on only one side of the abdomen and restore blood flow.

How to Cure Numb Legs and Feet

Of the most common is tingling in feet during pregnancy as your legs and butt take all the load while standing and sitting. This can often restrict blood flow in the arteries and cause tingling. Here are some remedies for numbness during pregnancy:

  • Lay down more on your left side every time you rest or go to sleep.
  • If you have numbness accompanied by weakness in your arms and legs, avoid lifting weights that are more than 4 kilos.
  • When you feel like taking a break or resting, sit down in a comfortable position rather than lying down. Lying down puts pressure on the lower abdomen and increases numbness in your legs
  • If you are working out during your pregnancy, watch for movements that make you feel tingly or numb afterwards. Make a note of them and avoid doing those. It also helps to lower the intensity of your workouts.

Pregnant woman feeling numbness in her feet

Can You Prevent Numbness

Although prevention of all tingling and numbness in the body is not possible during pregnancy, certain changes to the routine can reduce a great deal of them. Sleeping with the hands in an elevated position or using a wrist brace can prevent tingly fingers and avoid swollen wrists which can exacerbate carpal tunnel syndrome. Maintaining the right posture when you sit, stand and lay down can reduce the effect to a great deal. Experiment with what posture causes the numbness and avoid being in it for long. Wear comfortable shoes with a soft sole that is flat heeled. It can relieve pressure in the legs and ward off numbness.

When to Consult a Doctor

Although mild numbness in the hands and legs are normal in pregnancy, a sudden onset of severe numbness or tingling can be an indicator of something serious. Sudden onsets are symptoms of an injury or a blockage and warrant an immediate medical examination. Consult your doctor if you decide to use any alternative medicine or creams to relieve numbness in your belly or legs. Such creams often contain unregulated herbal preparations and can be dangerous during pregnancy. Finally, inform your doctor of any unusual symptom you notice during your regular visits.

Numbness and tingling in pregnancy are normal and most often not of a concern. They can be avoided with precautionary measures.

Also Read: Swelling During Pregnancy