Numbness and tingling during pregnancy are common causes of discomfort. These symptoms most often occur because of a disruption of signal transmission along a nerve (peripheral neuropathy). Check with your doctor or midwife before starting any treatment option during your pregnancy. In some cases, the numbness during pregnancy will improve or resolve after you deliver your baby.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is common in pregnancy and can involve one or both hands - usually your dominant hand, if only one is involved. As reviewed by the Mayo Clinic, CTS symptoms include numbness and tingling (pins and needles), and sometimes pain, in the palm side of your thumb, index, middle and part of your ring finger, your wrist and hand. Symptoms may be worse when you awaken in the morning.
If you have CTS before pregnancy it may worsen during pregnancy. Symptoms tend to occur more often during the third trimester and usually improve soon after delivery but may take 1-2 years to resolve. The earlier in pregnancy symptoms start, the longer CTS takes to resolve.
CTS symptoms are caused by pressure on or entrapment of the median nerve as it passes under a ligament that forms the carpal tunnel at your wrist. Symptoms occur in the fingers and areas that the median nerve serves. The problem is more common in women during a second or later pregnancy and those who do repetitive motions with their hands such as typing.
The risk for the syndrome increases during pregnancy because fluid gain can cause swelling of the tissues of your wrist and hand and compress the median nerve. Diseases such as hypothyroidism, diabetes and high blood pressure that may lead to further fluid retention can also increase the chance of CTS during pregnancy.
Treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome involves reducing pressure on the median nerve. The Office on Women's Health includes the following treatment options:
- Reducing your salt intake and drinking enough fluids
- A wrist and hand splint to put your wrist in a "rest" position
- Diuretics to reduce fluid retention
- Steroid injections in your wrist to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Decrease repetitive motions of the affected wrist
- Pain medicines
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that can occur after 20 weeks gestational age. Signs include high blood pressure, swelling due to fluid retention, and protein in your urine. At times preeclampsia can develop without symptoms which is why it's important to go to every prenatal visit so your blood pressure can be monitored. Typically, the first sign of preeclampsia occurs when there is a rise in blood pressure. It may slowly elevate or it can be a sudden onset. If preeclampsia is undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause serious and possibly fatal complications.
Numbness and tingling can occur in the hands and feet and is most likely due to the swelling associated with preeclampsia. The swelling can cause a lack of blood flow circulation or a nerve to be compressed which may cause a pins and needles sensation. The baby may be in a certain position where he or she rests on blood vessels preventing blood flow or rests on a nerve causing tingling, numbness and even pain. When this happens, it is best to move about and shake your arms and legs to get the blood circulating and possibly shift the baby. Other possible symptoms of preeclampsia include:
- Severe headaches
- Vision changes
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Decreased or no urine output
- Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia)
- Impaired liver function
- Signs of kidney problems
- Sudden weight gain
- Changes in reflexes
- Shortness of breath and/or anxiety
It is believed that preeclampsia occurs due to the placenta not functioning as it should. In early pregnancy, blood vessels develop to specifically carry blood to the placenta. These blood vessels tend to be narrower in women with preeclampsia and don't function properly, therefore the amount of blood flow is limited to the placenta. This occurs because of:
- Damage to the vessels
- Insufficient blood flow
- Immune system problems
The most optimal treatment for preeclampsia is the delivery of your baby. However, if you are too early in your pregnancy, the doctor will closely monitor you and your baby. That is why it is imperative that you go to every prenatal visit. Other forms of treatment include:
- Medication that will help lower your blood pressure.
- Hospitalization may be necessary to order to monitor the pregnancy. The doctor will perform nonstress tests and biophysical profiles to check the well-being of the baby.
- Corticosteroids may be prescribed to help improve your liver and platelet function and will also help the baby's lungs mature in case of early delivery.
- Anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed to help prevent seizures if your preeclampsia is severe.
Sciatica can occur before pregnancy from daily wear and tear or injuries to your back. Symptoms include numbness and tingling, burning or pain anywhere from your lower back, down your bottom and back of your leg, to the bottom of your foot and toes. Your symptoms may worsen as your pregnancy advances in the third trimester. If the problem is severe or prolonged, it can cause weakness of the leg on the involved side.
Sciatica is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve as it passes from your lower vertebrae through your pelvis and down the back of your leg. One or both sciatic nerves can be involved, though most often only one side is affected.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, common causes of sciatica includes herniation of a disc or arthritis in a lumbar vertebra, conditions which may be present before your pregnancy. During pregnancy other causes of pressure on the nerve include:
- Fluid retention in tissues around the nerve in the back or in pelvic tissues
- Curvature of the spine as your belly gets bigger (lumbar lordosis)
- Compression along the pelvic wall during the third trimester as the baby gets bigger and as he moves down the pelvis near term.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), sciatica can be relieved with the following options but check with your doctor first for safety during pregnancy:
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Heat or cold therapy to the back or other symptomatic areas
- Ultrasound therapy to involved areas
- Stretching exercises
- Steroids by mouth or by injection in oral the spine
- Pain medicines
The AAOS also advises against prolonged bedrest unless your doctor advises it.
You may develop anemia if you have too few red blood cells or the red blood cells don't contain enough hemoglobin, which is the iron-rich protein that carries the oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. This is more likely to occur in the second and third trimesters.
Numbness or tingling in your arms and legs may be related to an iron deficiency. Another reason for numbness and tingling in hands and feet may also be attributed to pernicious anemia which is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin B12 that may even lead to nerve damage. Additional symptoms of anemia include:
- Pale skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Short of breath
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
The causes of anemia can vary and include:
- You have a problem making red blood cells
- Your red blood cells are dying faster than they are produced
- Low iron levels
- Low vitamin B12 levels
- Loss of blood
- Underlying disease such as kidney disease
- Inherited blood diseases such as, aplastic anemia, sickle-cell anemia and thalassemia
Pregnancy-induced anemia is fairly common. Treatment typically includes adjustments to your diet and nutritional intake. You will want to eat iron-rich foods such as red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, and beans. An iron supplement may be recommended as well.
Bell's palsy usually affects one side of the face, causing numbness and tingling or burning of the affected side. This is accompanied by weakness or paralysis and drooping of those facial muscles and difficulty closing your eye. Symptoms usually resolve within weeks of appearance.
Bell's palsy is caused by an inflammation of the facial (7th) nerve. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Bell's palsy most commonly affects pregnant women or diabetics. It might be caused by an autoimmune reaction or a viral infection of the nerve. It is more common after a viral illness or in people with diabetes or high blood pressure.
Until symptoms resolve, it is important to protect the affected eye with eye drops and an eye patch. Other treatment considerations include the following only as a doctor allows:
- Steroids by mouth or injection
- Application of moist heat to the face
- An antiviral medicine
- Pain medicine
Meralgia paresthetica refers to numbness, tingling and burning along the front outer side of your thigh, as reviewed by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons. The syndrome is more common in the third trimester of pregnancy. Unless there is damage to the nerve from trauma or other causes, symptoms are expected to improve after delivery.
Meralgia paresthetica is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous in the groin. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnancy puts more pressure on your groin tissues as your belly grows. The nerve can also be affected by gaining a lot of weight or wearing tight clothing during pregnancy, or from inflammation.
In addition, compression of the nerve can also happen from prolonged pushing with your thighs flexed on your belly during a long second stage at delivery.
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With guidance from your doctor or midwife, management of your symptoms can include:
- Taking pressure off your groin as much as possible including wearing looser clothing
- Managing your pregnancy weight gain
- Massage and ice or cold therapy to the affected areas
- Pain medicine
- Steroid injections
Women with a history of diabetes are at risk for symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Symptoms include numbness, tingling and burning, especially in the legs, feet and hands. These symptoms may have been present before pregnancy and may become more noticeable during pregnancy. Fluid retention, especially in women with diabetic kidney disease, could make the numbness and tingling more pronounced.
Diabetes can cause damage and generalized dysfunction of peripheral nerves. Damage to small blood vessels and inflammation of nerve fibers because of high blood sugar may be involved, according to the Mayo Clinic. The longer you have diabetes, especially if not well-treated, the greater your risk for DPN.
You can reduce your risk for DPN before pregnancy by keeping blood sugar under good control. Talk to your doctor about treatments that might be safe during pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, medicines that may relieve symptoms include:
- Anti-seizure medicines
- Opiate pain medicines
- Creams or patches applied to the feet to relieve pain
Because of decreased sensation, continue to protect your hands and feet from trauma and extreme temperatures and follow proper diabetic foot care during your pregnancy.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 is the most common B vitamin deficiency and can cause numbness and tingling in hands and feet during pregnancy. This is because vitamin B12 and other B vitamins are essentially for normal nerve growth and function.
Deficiency in vitamin B12 can occur if you don't eat any or enough animal foods and don't take a vitamin supplement during your pregnancy. Other common causes include prolonged vomiting, poor absorption of nutrients, autoimmune diseases such as pernicious anemia and other bowel diseases, according to the University of Chicago.
Prevention and treatment of Vitamin B12 deficiency during pregnancy includes adding sources of the vitamin to your diet, such as red meat, fish and poultry or taking a prenatal vitamin that contains Vitamin B12. Severe deficiency may require B12 shots.
Electrolyte imbalances can cause numbness and tingling during pregnancy, especially around your mouth, fingers and toes. Causes can occur throughout pregnancy. Check with your doctor for correct management if you have any of the following problems which could lead to an electrolyte imbalance:
- Recurrent vomiting which can cause sodium and potassium loss
- Recurrent diarrhea which can primarily lead to potassium loss
- Loss of fluids from dehydration
- Low calcium from not enough dairy products in your diet
- Diuretics for fluid retention or high blood pressure
- Kidney disease from problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Hyperventilation triggered by anxiety
Don't hesitate to consult with your doctor especially if these conditions are accompanied by light-headedness and dizziness.
In general, it is helpful to assess your health, your medical history and your risk factors for neuropathy before you get pregnant. This will keep you aware of symptoms to watch out for and how to manage them. If you have numbness and tingling in your extremities, lower back pain, or any chronic disorders that might put you at risk for worsening peripheral nerve dysfunction during pregnancy, discuss your situation in detail with your doctor ahead of pregnancy.
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As your uterus grows, it may press on the nerves in your legs. This may cause some numbness and tingling (feeling of pins and needles) in your legs and toes. This is normal and will go away after you give birth (it may take a few weeks to months). You may also have numbness or tingling in your fingers and hands.What helps numbness and tingling in hands during pregnancy? ›
General numbness and tingling of the hands, fingers, back, legs, and buttocks during pregnancy can be treated by a gentle massage, making sure to vary your sleep positions (using a pregnancy body pillow helps a lot), soothing baths, and stretching.What causes numbness and tingling in arms and hands during pregnancy? ›
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and arm. It can develop during pregnancy thanks to hormonal changes – an increase in fluids during pregnancy compresses the median nerve in the wrist causing a sense of weakness in the hand and the tingling feeling.What could be causing numbness and tingling? ›
Pressure on peripheral nerves from enlarged blood vessels, tumors, scar tissue, or infection. Shingles or herpes zoster infection. Other infections such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, syphilis, or tuberculosis. Lack of blood supply to an area, such as from hardening of the arteries, frostbite, or vessel inflammation.How do I stop my legs from tingling during pregnancy? ›
A gentle massage, making sure to change your sleep positions (using a pregnancy body pillow helps a lot), soothing baths, and stretching can all assist with general numbness and tingling of the hands, fingers, back, legs, and buttocks during pregnancy.What are the most affected nerves during pregnancy? ›
A common issue for pregnant women is sciatic nerve pain. Also called sciatica, or lumbar radiculopathy, it's described as a "radiating pain" that travels from the sciatic nerve, located in the lower spine, down the back of your thigh. The sciatic nerve is the largest in your body and the main nerve in the legs.What helps calm nerves during pregnancy? ›
- Engage in regular physical activity. In general, it is safe to engage in physical activity during pregnancy. ...
- Ensure adequate sleep. ...
- Practice mindfulness. ...
- Journaling. ...
- Schedule worry time. ...
- Yoga, massage, meditation, and acupuncture.
Treatment of neuropathic pain in pregnancy
Treatment should usually be overseen by an obstetrician and pain specialist, and medication options may include amitriptyline (usually offered first) and then possibly duloxetine, gabapentin or pregabalin.
Examples of SSRIs include:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Neuropathies during pregnancy and the postpartum period are common and are usually due to compression around pregnancy and childbirth. The most common peripheral neuropathies are Bell's palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and lower extremity neuropathies.
It is quite common when sleeping on your side for the weight of your top arm to roll forward and lie against your torso at a sharper angle and compress your armpit-area, limiting circulation to your arm and causing some of those annoying pins-n-needles.Is poor circulation in hands normal during pregnancy? ›
Pregnancy swelling puts pressure on the median nerve in the wrists and causes the same aching and tingling symptoms most often associated with ergonomic strain and repetitive motion. You may be moving a lot less, which means circulation to your hands and other extremities is sluggish.What is the best treatment for tingling and numbness? ›
- Rest. Many of the conditions that cause leg and foot numbness, such as nerve pressure, improve with rest.
- Ice. Ice can help reduce swelling that can put pressure on nerves. ...
- Heat. ...
- Massage. ...
- Exercise. ...
- Supportive devices. ...
- Epsom salt baths. ...
- Mental techniques and stress reduction.
Go to a hospital or call your local emergency number (such as 911) if: You have weakness or are unable to move, along with numbness or tingling. Numbness or tingling occur just after a head, neck, or back injury. You cannot control the movement of an arm or a leg, or you have lost bladder or bowel control.What is the difference between numbness and tingling? ›
Numbness (lost, reduced, or altered sensation) and tingling (an odd prickling sensation) are types of temporary paresthesia. These sensations commonly occur after sitting or standing in a particular position or even wearing tight clothing for too long.Does pregnancy numbness go away? ›
Topic Overview. Tingling, numbness, and pain in the hands are common during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. These problems are usually caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, and they usually go away after pregnancy.Does gestational diabetes cause tingling feet? ›
A tingling sensation ('pins and needles') in the hands and feet is another sign of gestational diabetes. Similarly to blurred vision, it is more noticeable because it is not a typical symptom of pregnancy. Why does this happen? Excess sugar in the blood can start damaging nerves and nerve-endings.Should I be worried about tingling legs? ›
Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs are abnormal sensations that result from disorders of a nerve or nerves. There are many different possibilities as to the cause of these symptoms. Most of the time the cause is not serious, but certain associated signs and symptoms can signal the need to see your doctor.What month of pregnancy does the nervous system form? ›
At just six weeks, the embryo's brain and nervous system begin to develop, although the complex parts of the brain continue to grow and develop through the end of pregnancy, with development ending around the age of 25.In what trimester do most birth defects occur? ›
The first trimester is the most crucial to your baby's development. During this period, your baby's body structure and organ systems develop. Most miscarriages and birth defects occur during this period.
When you are pregnant, there is a greater amount of fluid that is kept in the body. This can sometimes put pressure on the nerves causing nerve compression. This commonly occurs in the arm (brachial plexus), groin (meralgiaparaesthetica), leg (sciatica) and wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome).What are the signs of stress during pregnancy? ›
- An increase in cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, whether you're aware of it or not.
- An increase in heart rate or heart palpitations.
- Back pain.
- Tummy upset.
- Teeth grinding.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Excessive fatigue.
If you start to experience symptoms you can't shake (like feeling worried all the time, losing interest in your life, feeling hopeless, sleeping or eating more or less than usual, or having difficulty concentrating) you should let your doctor know.Can I take magnesium while pregnant? ›
Many women, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have intakes of magnesium below recommended levels. Magnesium supplementation during pregnancy may be able to reduce growth restriction of the fetus and pre‐eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy), and increase birthweight.What Vitamin gets rid of neuropathy? ›
Vitamins B-1, B-6, and B-12 have been found to be especially beneficial for treating neuropathy. Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine, helps to reduce pain and inflammation and vitamin B-6 preserves the covering on nerve endings.
- Vitamins. Some cases of peripheral neuropathy are related to vitamin deficiencies. ...
- Cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers that makes them spicy. ...
- Quit smoking. ...
- Warm bath. ...
- Exercise. ...
- Essential oils. ...
- Meditation. ...
In most cases, these effects are temporary and will completely resolve within a few weeks. Permanent nerve damage resulting in loss of the use of your legs is very rare. What causes nerve damage after childbirth? your back or pelvis during labour and / or delivery.Does magnesium help with sciatica during pregnancy? ›
One animal study suggests magnesium supplementation may improve sciatic nerve regeneration and decrease inflammatory response in mice. Taking magnesium orally as a supplement or massaging it into your legs in oil or lotion can reduce discomfort from sciatica.What is perinatal anxiety? ›
What is perinatal anxiety? If you experience anxiety while you are pregnant or after giving birth, this may be called: prenatal or antenatal anxiety – while you are pregnant. postnatal anxiety – during roughly the first year after giving birth.Does anything trigger neuropathy? ›
Nutritional or vitamin imbalances, alcoholism, and exposure to toxins can damage nerves and cause neuropathy. Vitamin B12 deficiency and excess vitamin B6 are the best-known vitamin-related causes. Several medications have been shown to occasionally cause neuropathy.
MEDIAN NERVE: NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL PARAMETERS IN THIRD TRIMESTER of PREGNANCY.Does preeclampsia cause numbness in hands? ›
Risk Factors for Preeclampsia
Swelling or puffiness in your fingers, feet, face or eyelids. Numbness in your hands or feet. Severe headaches or pain in your abdomen. Severe shortness of breath.
Many physicians advise pregnant women to sleep on their left side. Previous studies have linked back and right-side sleeping with a higher risk of stillbirth, reduced fetal growth, low birth weight, and preeclampsia, a life-threatening high blood pressure disorder that affects the mother.Why is my left hip numb and tingling pregnancy? ›
When an enlarged uterus puts pressure on the nerves, you can experience pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation in the buttocks, hips, and thighs. This problem is referred to as sciatica. As you get closer to your due date, your baby will change its position in your uterus.What foods improve blood circulation during pregnancy? ›
Eat up. Spicy foods, if you are able to eat them, are packed with a low-density lipoprotein which provides a wide range of health benefits. Ginger, in addition to curbing nausea, also can help jump start blood flow. Other snacks that can help include oranges, dark chocolate, avocados, and watermelon.How can I increase blood flow to my uterus? ›
Walking and yoga are two of the best ways to promote circulation and improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the uterus. Leading an inactive lifestyle with little to no exercise creates a situation of stagnation of blood flow to the uterus and other reproductive organs.Do compression socks help during pregnancy? ›
Considering that your body produces about 50 percent more blood when you're pregnant, it's not surprising that you might have swelling from all of that extra fluid. And this can translate to pain or discomfort. Compression socks or stockings can help reduce swelling in the legs due to gentle squeezing.
The reason why pregnant women have numbness in their limbs
Pregnant women often experience numbness in hands and feet due to weight gain Women during pregnancy often gain weight very quickly, this causes the blood vessels to be heavily compressed leading to numbness in the limbs.
With preeclampsia, you might have high blood pressure, high levels of protein in urine that indicate kidney damage (proteinuria), or other signs of organ damage. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had previously been in the standard range.Is it normal for your fingers to go numb when sleeping while pregnant? ›
The excess fluid that collects in the tissues of the hands and wrists can compress the median nerve, causing numb hands during pregnancy. Carpal tunnel pregnancy can come and go, but symptoms are often worse at night because many people sleep with their wrists bent.
Slow circulation, along with fluid retention, can cause swelling in the face, hands, legs, ankles, and feet. Varicose veins (enlarged and raised veins you may see on your legs or feet) are another sign of poor circulation.What are the early warning signs of preeclampsia? ›
- High blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Blurred vision.
- Swelling of the face, hands and feet.
- Upper abdominal pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- HELLP syndrome (severe form of preeclampsia)
Early signs of pre-eclampsia include having high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in your urine (proteinuria). It's unlikely that you'll notice these signs, but they should be picked up during your routine antenatal appointments. In some cases, further symptoms can develop, including: severe headache.Does gestational diabetes make your hands numb? ›
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Urinating often. Being very tired. Having blurry vision. Sensations of tingling, pain or numbness in your hands or feet.
Neuropathies during pregnancy and the postpartum period are common and are usually due to compression around pregnancy and childbirth. The most common peripheral neuropathies are Bell's palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), and lower extremity neuropathies.What is toxemia pregnancy? ›
Toxemia, or preeclampsia, is a complication of pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems, such as the liver or kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in individuals whose blood pressure had previously been in a healthy range.What triggers preeclampsia? ›
Pre-eclampsia is thought to be caused by the placenta not developing properly due to a problem with the blood vessels supplying it. The exact cause isn't fully understood.What trimester is preeclampsia most common? ›
Most of the time, preeclampsia affects women in the third trimester pregnancy. We've had patients who developed preeclampsia as early as the second trimester, but this usually occurs in women at increased risk due to underlying medical problems. Preeclampsia can affect any organ system in the body.Why do my arms go numb when I sleep pregnant? ›
The hormone relaxin which is released by your body allows your ligaments to stretch during pregnancy and childbirth. This may cause the body's weight to pinch nerves in the joints and subsequently numb a related area.