Numbeness in Pregnancy: Reasons & Tips to Cure

Numbness During Pregnancy – Causes and Remedies

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes in a woman’s body and some of these changes can cause numbness in the arms, legs, belly, or other parts of the body. Numbness is also one of the unexpected symptoms of pregnancy, and it is mostly experienced in the last trimester of the pregnancy. If you are pregnant and notice numbness in your legs, arms, or hands, you don’t need to worry. But if it is accompanied by other symptoms of pregnancy, you should check with a doctor.

What Is Numbness During Pregnancy?

Numbness or tingling sensation during pregnancy is basically a loss of sensation or ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the hands, arms, legs, feet, and other parts of the body. It is a common symptom of pregnancy and is usually experienced by women because of the hormonal and bodily changes during pregnancy. When a woman enters the second and third trimester of her pregnancy, she may have swelling in her hands and feet because of water retention. This swelling can contribute to the feeling of numbness in pregnancy. Experiencing numbness in the first trimester of pregnancy is often considered as a symptom of pregnancy by many. And when it is experienced during the second trimester, it is mainly because of the improper sleeping posture. The symptoms may get stronger during the third trimester as during this time the blood vessels or nerves get compressed because of the growing uterus and the changes in sleeping postures.

When and Where Do Pregnant Women Experience Numbness?

During pregnancy, numbness can be felt in many parts of the body (including the tongue and the face). Some other parts of the body where you may feel numb during pregnancy are given below –

  • Pregnant women often experience numbness in their legs soon after waking up. If you are pregnant, you may also feel numbness in your legs if you sit 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.
  • While pregnant, your arms and hands may also feel numb after you wake up from sleep or lift heavy objects.
  • Some pregnant women also experience numbness on the tongue after intake of a certain food, strain in the neck or sudden movements.

What Causes Numbness During Pregnancy?

Here are some of the causes of numbness or tingling sensation 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. An increase in weight during pregnancy can also cause carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Anaemia caused by factors such as low red blood cell count, iron deficiency or genetic factors can also cause numbness, dizziness, and pain.
  • A woman may also feel pain and numbness due to sciatica during pregnancy. It is a shooting pain that runs all the way from the lower back down to 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 Prevent Numbness of the Tongue

Numbness in the tongue may be experienced because of nerve compression, spinal compression, Bell’s palsy or 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 list down the foods that cause numbness when you consume them. Also, maintain notes of other activities and times of the day when episodes of numbness are experienced.
  • Do not strain your back by lifting weights or poor postures, especially in the third trimester.
  • Avoid eating foods that are high in sodium. Foods rich in sodium can increase your blood pressure and lead to water retention in your body, which may cause numbness.
  • Low blood sugar levels can also cause numbness in the tongue, therefore eat at regular intervals.

How to Treat Numbness in the Stomach or Belly

Numbness in the belly is experienced when the heavy uterus presses against the nerves and blood vessels. Here are ways to prevent it:

  • Maintain proper posture while sitting and standing to avoid putting pressure on your lower abdomen.
  • While lying down change positions now and then to relieve pressure on only one side of the abdomen and to not hamper the blood flow.

How to Treat Numbness in the Legs and Feet

Feeling a tingling sensation in feet during pregnancy is very common. And if you stand or sit for long periods of time, your feet may feel numb. This can often restrict blood flow in the arteries and cause tingling. Here are some remedies for numbness during pregnancy:

  • Lie down on your left side every time you rest or go to sleep.
  • When you feel like taking a break or resting, sit down in a comfortable position rather than lying down as lying down may put pressure on your lower abdomen and make your legs feel numb.
  • If you are working out during pregnancy, watch for movements that make you feel tingly or numb afterwards. Make a note of them and avoid doing those.

Pregnant woman feeling numbness in her feet

Can You Prevent Numbness?

Although preventing numbness in the body is not possible during pregnancy, by making certain changes in your routine, you can feel better. Sleeping with the hands in an elevated position or using a wrist brace can prevent tingling sensation in your fingers and prevent swelling in the wrists. Maintaining the right posture when you sit, stand, or lie down can reduce the effect to a great deal. Also, wear comfortable shoes with a soft sole that is flat-heeled. It can relieve pressure on the legs and ward off numbness.

When to Consult a Doctor

Although experiencing numbness in the hands and legs is normal during 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. Also, consult your doctor if you notice any unusual symptom.

Numbness and tingling sensation during pregnancy are normal and most often not a cause of concern. Take the necessary precautions and consult your doctor if you don’t feel better. Have a healthy pregnancy!

Also Read: Swelling During Pregnancy

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