An Unspoken Reality: Numbness During Pregnancy

Everyone has told you a lot about pregnancy.

You know about the increased hormones, you know about the cravings and the acid reflux. But no one told you about your stomach going numb.

In the middle of the night not realizing your watch was on your stomach the entire night until you turn over and hear it fall off.

Or knowing your shirt should feel tighter yet you can’t really feel the fabric.

Don’t worry Mama–you are not alone!

Numbness in pregnancy is fairly common–it’s just one of those pesky side effects people forget to mention. Pregnancy changes a lot about your body. It changes the size of your feet, hands, face, and not to mention stomach. Numbness often accompanies these changes as it is usually a result of swelling in different parts of the body. As the body swells, nerves are compressed, and blood flow is restricted. If you are experiencing increased numbness in your third trimester it is often as a result of your body literally getting squeezed. Numbness in legs is often felt soon after waking up or after sitting for long periods of time. Symptoms can range from loss of sensation to tingling and pain like pins and needles.

Numbness can also take place on the face and in the tongue as well as fingers, toes, and stomach.

There are many reasons why a woman can be feeling numbness in any part of her body during pregnancy.

There are enormous hormonal changes ravaging through a pregnant woman’s body at any given moment of the day. The hormone relaxin softens the pelvic opening and other joints which can cause the body’s weight to pinch certain nerves and therefore cause numbness in those regions.

One important piece of advice to remember is when sleeping, lay down more on your left side every time you rest or go to sleep. This can help un- restrict previously blocked arteries which cause the tingling.

Early pregnancy hormones can also play a role in numbing. In the first trimester, hormones encourage water retention, which often leads to painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Women can gain up to 50% more blood during pregnancy to support the baby’s development, and that increased fluid can apply pressure to nerves in the hand making the condition all the more painful.

Low iron and red blood cell count can also contribute to numbness and dizziness. Anemia or a basic iron deficiency along with genetic factors can play a big role in numbness as well.

Numbness of the stomach can feel incredibly uncomfortable at times.

Numbness in the belly is caused by the heavy uterus pressing on the nerves and blood vessels. As the mama to be carrying your baby you can start fixing this uncomfortable problem by standing better. Improving your posture is very important especially when it comes to avoiding putting pressure on your lower stomach and back. Additionally, while lying down change positions now and then to relieve pressure on only one side of the abdomen and restore blood flow.

After having a numb tummy, numb legs are the most uncomfortable.

There are multiple ways to combat this symptom.

One important piece of advice to remember is when sleeping, lay down more on your left side every time you rest or go to sleep. This can help release previously blocked arteries which cause the tingling.

If you have numbness accompanied by weakness in your arms and legs, avoid lifting weights that are more than 4 kilos (8.8 lbs). 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.

Lastly, if you are working out during your pregnancy, watch for movements that make you feel tingly or numb afterward. Make a note of them and avoid doing those. It also helps to lower the intensity of your workouts.

The most important thing to remember is that while pregnant your body is working more than double as hard as it usually does. It is imperative that you listen to the cues and signals it sends you and that you take a break and rest when needed.

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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