I’ve suffered from restless legs on and off since I was a teenager. I had the occasional bout during my pregnancies with Jessica and Sophie but it wasn’t too bad. However, one of the times when it frequently flares up is during the night if Sophie wakes for a feed. I’ll pick her up, put her to the breast and within minutes, the restless legs kick in.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have never experienced restless legs (hubby was convinced I was making it up at first!), the best way I can describe it is as a tingly, creepy-crawly feeling in the muscles of my legs. Keeping them still is utterly unbearable, the only way to bring any relief is to start fidgeting and keep my legs moving. It usually goes if I am able to get up and walk about for a while – or the other thing that works if I can’t go for a good walk is to lie on my back and pedal my legs in the air (hubby finds this hilarious but it really does help!)
Neither of these are really an option whilst feeding Sophie – I suspect if I broke off the feed and walked for a bit, that it would resume as soon as she latched on again as it seems to be connected with her feeding. The minute she unlatches, the restless legs go completely. The night feeds can feel endless at times because all I want her to do is hurry up and finish the feed so the awful feeling in my legs can stop. Naturally, these are the feeds when she slows and has a prolonged period of intermittent suckling towards the end of the feed. I’d stop the feed at that point, but she is likely to wake up if I do and prolong the feed further so I grit my teeth and keep wiggling my legs and then breathe a sigh of relief as Sophie finally falls asleep and pulls off.
I’m not quite sure what it is that triggers it. It is more likely to happen when I am particularly sleep-deprived so it might be due to tiredness, or perhaps my increased caffeine intake during this time could be to blame. It seems to be more likely to happen if I feed Sophie sitting up rather than lying down (although very rarely occurs during the day when I sit and feed). I suspect also there may be a psychosomatic element as it was always worse in my uni days during the more boring lectures and there are very occasional times when if I feel an attack of restless legs beginning, I can stop it happening if I can just focus my mind on something else. So perhaps trying some self-hypnosis would help too.
If anyone else has experienced this and has any suggestions for easing it, I’d love to hear them!
Linking in again with the lovely Zena at Zena’s Suitcase for Breastfeeding Diaries: