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What Causes Numbness During Pregnancy?

By K. Gierok
Updated May 17, 2024
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Numbness during pregnancy can be quite frightening, especially when women have never experienced the condition before. Luckily, the causes of numbness associated with pregnancy are usually quite minor. Some of the most common causes of this condition include damage to the sciatic nerve, Raynaud's disease, or water retention. Women who experience numbness while pregnant should speak with their doctors as soon as possible. While these conditions can be usually treated quite easily, they should not be ignored. In most cases, once the woman has delivered the baby, the symptoms of numbness will be alleviated.

Numbness during pregnancy is typically caused by sciatica. Sciatica occurs in pregnant women due to the high amounts of pressure placed on the lower back. When the lower back can no longer support the weight of pregnancy, a disc injury often occurs. This results in inflammation of the tissues and nerves which surround the sciatic nerve. Sciatic nerve pain can also be caused when a disc has accidentally moved out of its normal place. While numbness in the legs is a common symptom of sciatica associated with pregnancy, other symptoms can include pain in the hips and lower back.

Raynaud's disease is also commonly to blame for numbness during pregnancy. While pregnancy has not been found to cause this condition, it has been associated with increases in the severity of the disease. In Raynaud's disease, exposure to cold weather results in an extreme rate of blood vessel contraction. This often results in a change in skin color and severe numbness in the hands and fingers. Individuals previously diagnosed with Raynaud's disease should speak with their doctor in order to ensure the best medical treatment. When left unmanaged, this condition can be dangerous for unborn infants.

In some cases, water retention during pregnancy can result in significant amounts of numbness. Women who experience numbness due to water retention feel it most often in their hands and feet. Occasionally, numbness in the stomach and thighs can also occur. Women who develop numbness related to water retention are typically encouraged to avoid salty foods during the remainder of their pregnancy.

While numbness during pregnancy is not typically considered to be a life-threatening condition in and of itself, serious complications can arise. Women who are pregnant and experience an increase in the rate or severity of numbness should seek medical assistance. In most cases, it can be easily treated through medications which have been proven safe for both mother and baby.

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Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On Feb 14, 2013

I had numbness and cramps during my pregnancy too but it had nothing to do with being pregnant. Mine was due to carpal tunnel syndrome.

By burcidi — On Feb 13, 2013
@turquoise-- Yes it can. My sister in law had pre-eclampsia when she was pregnant with my nephew. This is when pregnancy triggers chronic high blood pressure in the mother.

I don't know if pre-eclampsia directly leads to numb hands during pregnancy, or if it's due to water retention and swelling. But my sister-in-law used to complain about numbness in her fingers, hands and I think even in her mouth area when she had this condition.

If anyone has numbness like this, please see your doctor ASAP. Pre-eclampsia is a serious condition that has to be kept under control or it can harm the mother and the baby.

By turquoise — On Feb 13, 2013
Can preeclampsia cause numbness in hands during pregnancy?
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