Lots of pregnant women experience leg cramps during pregnancy. They are involuntary muscle contractions that are rather painful – they occur frequently at night, especially in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Fortunately, many of these issues are of short duration and end with the moment of birth, the negative impact on mother being very small.
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Causes of Leg Cramps during Pregnancy
Although the exact causes of cramps are not fully understood, some possible causes may be.
- Dehydration – Some pregnant women, especially those who work, reduce the amount of water and liquids consumed to reduce their visits to the toilet.
- Reducing the number of bathroom visits at night – Trying to reduce the number of visits to the bathroom at night is another reason why some pregnant women avoid drinking, especially late in the evening. This can cause muscle problems.
- Vitamins – Deficiency of certain vitamins, such as magnesium and potassium.
- Weight gain during pregnancy – Weight gain might cause pressure on the leg muscles, resulting in leg pain, especially due to sciatica.
- Lack of exercise – Exercise keeps toned muscles. If the muscles aren`t worked sufficiently, this can cause cramps and pain.
If muscle cramps occur, stretch the affected part of your calf muscles immediately: stretch your leg to your heel, then lightly flick the fingers towards the tibia. It could hurt you at first, but these movements will ease spasm and the pain will be relieved later. It could also be a hot shower or an ice massage. Walking and then keeping your legs high can help prevent cramps from reappearing.
If muscle pain is constant and not just occasional cramps or if you notice that the lump has increased in volume and is sensitive, call your obstetrician immediately. These might be signs that blood clots have formed in the veins, a medical condition which needs immediate examination. Venous thrombosis is rare, but pregnancy increases the risk of this medical condition. – Click here to read more!
What`s the Best Method of Relieving Leg Cramps?
If you experience leg cramps during pregnancy, stretch your legs immediately: your leg should be perfectly straight with the help in front; gently move your toes back and forth. It might seem painful at first, but it will soon ease spasm and you`ll soon notice how the pain will gradually disappear.
You may try to relax your leg cramps by massaging your muscles or warm them using a bottle of warm water. You should also try to walk for a couple of minutes, as this also helps.
What If the Pain Persists?
If you experience constant pain and it isn`t just your occasional leg cramp, or if you notice that your leg is swelling and it`s a deaf and constant pain, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately. These might be symptoms of a blood clot, which needs medical assistance immediately. Blood clots are quite rare, but the risk is higher while pregnant. – Read this!
How to Prevent Leg Cramps while Expecting?
Leg cramps during pregnancy can be prevented or at least their frequency can be reduced. Here`s how:
- Flex your leg 10 – 15 times before going to bed in the evening.
- Avoid standing one leg over the other.
- Avoid staying for long periods of time just sitting or standing. You should alternate movement periods with rest.
- Rotate your ankles when sitting down or relaxing in bed.
- You should try to take a warm bath lying down so you can relax your leg muscles.
- Calcium is essential in your diet, but it`s recommended to take it from your food, not supplements.
- Regular physical activity could help prevent leg cramps while pregnant. However, before starting an exercise program, make sure you have the obstetrician’s consent.
- Practice stretching exercises involving your calf muscles regularly during the day and before going to bed. Stay up to the length of an arm from a wall, leaning against your hands in front of you. Put your left leg in front of the right and let yourself down slightly with your left leg bent over your knee. Keep your right knee straight down and the right heel at the ground level. Maintain the stretch position for around 30 seconds, taking care that your back remains straight and the hips in front. Don`t rotate the legs inside or outside and don`t lift your peaks. Then repeat with your other leg.
- Drink water regularly to remain hydrated. The secret here to stay hydrated is to drink small amounts in short intervals. For instance, 2 water jets every hour.
- Use a support for your legs when sitting on a chair.
- There`s some evidence which claims that administering a magnesium supplement in additional to a prenatal vitamin might aid some women who experience leg cramps while expecting.
- Use comfortable shoes, but avoid sandals or heels that have thin or flexible sole.
- You sleeping on your back; choose to sleep on your left and add a pillow between your legs.
Note: We talked above about improving leg cramps is a symptom by taking more calcium. Although it`s essential to take enough calcium during pregnancy, there`s no evidence whatsoever that taking more calcium will also prevent leg cramps while pregnant. Actually, there`s a study that found that calcium supplements didn`t influence the improvement of cramps at all.
However unpleasant your leg cramps may be, they`ll soon disappear after giving birth. It`s best to prevent them if possible, but if you cannot, just to relieve the areas that hurt and wait for them to pass. They usually don`t last!