Pregnancy throws up a number of odd symptoms. Some of which seem completely unrelated to your pregnancy.
The thing is, it’s not just your abdomen that’s experiencing the changes, pregnancy affects your entire body.
One symptom you might be experiencing is tingling in the hands and/or the feet.
The sensations might include tingling or it might feel like pins and needles. Sometimes your hands or feet may experience a temporary loss of feeling and numbness.
There are a few different reasons why this might be and fortunately most of them aren’t serious.
However, it is important to let your doctor or midwife know what you’re experiencing so that they can diagnose you.
What Causes Tinging in The Hands or Feet During Pregnancy?
The most common reason for tingling sensations in the hands or feet is swelling.
The swelling is often invisible to the naked eye and is happening inside your joints.
When the wrists, hands, or feet swell due to pregnancy, pressure is put onto the nerves which run throughout the area.
As your pregnancy progresses and you head into your third trimester, you may notice more visible swelling and that the symptoms worsen, causing pain especially at night.
Aside from swelling there are several other common reasons for tingling hands and feet during pregnancy.
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- gestational diabetes
Because a few of these can cause serious complications (anemia and gestational diabetes) it’s important to mention the tingling to your midwife or doctor so that they can determine the cause.
They may decide to send you for a blood test to check your iron levels to discover whether you are anemic.
If it is down to sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome, you can be reassured that this is also down to the fact that your body is changing and growing and putting pressure on nerves.
Sciatica is one of the main reasons you might experience tingling and numbness in the feet, due to pressure on the sciatic nerve from your growing uterus.
Most of the time this tingling and numbness appears very gradually and worsens as pregnancy progresses.
What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
We need to mention carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) because it is very common in pregnancy and is one of the main causes for tingling sensations in the hands and wrists.
CTS is felt in the wrists and it is due to fluid build up which presses down on the median nerve. This nerve runs down your wrist, to the hand and the fingers.
When this compression happens, you will get the classic numbness and tingling. CTS can make it hard to grip an item, and can make you drop things accidentally.
CTS often develops in the middle of the second trimester and then into the third, you’re unlikely to notice it earlier than that.
If you experience it in one pregnancy, the chances are that you will have it in other pregnancies too.
Can You Do Anything to Help With Numbness And Tingling?
There are a few things you can do to try and prevent it or at least try and reduce it.
The main methods are:
- Eat a healthy and varied diet, and make sure that you don’t put on too much weight. The more weight you put on, the more likely you are to notice pain and numbness, and the more likely CTS will be
- Make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Make sure you eat foods which have high levels of vitamin B6, such as sunflower or sesame seeds, broccoli and other greens, garlic, pork and lamb, hazelnuts, white fish and oily fish, as well as avocados
- Make sure your bra fits you properly and opt for a specialist maternity bra if you can – the pressure placed on your ribcage will also affect the median nerve, so the less pressure here, the less you’ll notice the effects
- Wear hand splints whilst you sleep, to stop you from curling your hands up involuntarily during your slumber – your midwife or doctor should be able to help you with this
- If you notice the tingling and numbness, you cold compresses or ice cold water to relieve the pain
- Move your hands, wrists, and fingers around to keep circulation moving and to try and reduce stiffness
- Try cabbage leaves placed on your wrists. Strange but true! This may help to draw out the fluid and take the swelling down
If the tingling turns to pain and you’re finding it hard to manage speak to your midwife or doctor for further help.
After you give birth, the symptoms are likely to disappear either straightaway, or very soon afterward.