All You Need to Know about Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

by Sharon Hopkins


Leg cramps are quite common during pregnancy, and many pregnant women complain of painful spasms that can be felt in the calves, thighs and feet. While these cramps are more evident at night, they can happen at any time of day.

Causes

Some of the main causes of leg cramps during pregnancy include the following:

  • Poor circulation: One of the first systems affected during pregnancy is the circulatory system. Leg cramps during pregnancy result when the expanding uterus exerts more pressure on blood vessels leading to your legs.
  • Excess or lack of minerals: An excess of phosphorus and lack of magnesium and calcium are also believed to lead to leg cramps.
  • Added weight and change in posture: Leg cramps also result from the exhaustion of carrying around the added weight that you put on during your pregnancy. The more weight you gain, the more likely you are to get leg cramps as there is extra strain on the nerves in your back and legs.

Preventing Leg cramps

Here are a few tips to help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take time to stretch your leg and calf muscles throughout the day, especially before going to bed.
  • Ask your doctor if you can exercise. If yes, go for a short 10 minute walk every day.
  • Lying on your left side helps improve circulation.
  • Keep your feet elevated whenever you feel exhausted.
  • Crossing your legs for a long time while standing or sitting is not advisable.
  • Wiggle your toes and rotate your ankles while you are sitting as this will improve the circulation to your feet.
  • Wear supportive stockings.
  • Consult your doctor on whether you need to add calcium and magnesium supplements to your diet.

Other Useful Tips to Help with Leg Cramps

Apart from the preventive measure, if you experience a spasm or cramping, you could try one of the following:

  • To help relieve leg cramps during pregnancy, you can try standing on a surface that is cold, as this sometimes helps in stopping the spasm.
  • Flexing your toes and ankles and stretching your calf muscles several times should also help improve circulation.
  • You could ask your spouse or whoever is at home with you to massage the area that is cramping. It may hurt in the beginning, but will gradually give you relief.

If none of these methods help and the cramping is persistent, call your doctor for help.

References:

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11869565

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
More articles from the Women's-Issues Category