As if there weren't enough things to make you uncomfortable during pregnancy; add numbness and tingling of the hands, wrists and arms to the list. It is very common during pregnancy to experience numbness of extremities, tingling or a pins and needles feeling. Knowing why and how to relieve it will help you to get through another side effect of pregnancy.
During pregnancy this feeling in the hands is thought to be due to swelling tissues pressing on nerves. Gravity pulling fluid down into the hands all day long doesn't help either. If the numbness is accompanied by swelling then it's caused by fluid pooling in the hands, according to "What to Expect When You're Expecting."
There is a form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that can occur during pregnancy. Normally CTS is caused by performing repetitive work with the hands like playing piano or typing; however, during pregnancy, the condition can develop for other reasons. The carpal tunnel in the wrist becomes swollen during pregnancy and this causes pressure on the nerves that run from the wrist to the fingers, according to BabyCenter. Numbness in the hands accompanied by pain could be this form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Make sure you are not sleeping on your hands; this can make the numbness worse. Instead, try elevating your hands on separate pillows while sleeping. When numbness occurs, try hanging the affected hand over the side of the bed and shaking it to return circulation. In more serious cases, wearing a wrist splint to bed will help, according to BabyCenter. For ongoing numbness relief some women find acupuncture to be helpful.
Take It Easy
If numbness is accompanied by pain or happening frequently you may need to look at what you are doing. If you work with your hands daily, take regular breaks, stop working when you feel pain in your hands and try to change positions while working. Aggravating the condition by overworking is not wise because the anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids prescribed for carpal tunnel syndrome can't be taken during pregnancy. If you do develop CTS during pregnancy it will usually go away two to three weeks after birth.
When to Worry
If you have tried to relieve the numbness but it's persisted for several days, it may be something more serious. If the numbness becomes more intense, is accompanied by pain or is spreading up your arms to the shoulders or neck, it's time to call your doctor, according to BabyCenter. Numbness in the hands is a symptom of several serious health conditions and should be evaluated if you can't find relief on your own.