Pregnancy isn’t always a cakewalk. Sure, we hear how beautiful it and it is, however, your first months are filled with morning sickness and heartburn. And just when you feel you are out of the woods, leg cramps during pregnancy come together.
Leg Cramps During Pregnancy.
If you’ve got painful leg cramps during pregnancy, you are not alone. Many pregnant women have them in the second or third trimester, often at night. Nobody knows for sure why women get more leg cramps during pregnancy.
It may have to do with changes in blood flow and stress on your leg muscles by carrying extra weight. Your growing baby puts stress on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. And some doctors say low calcium, or a change in how your body processes calcium, may cause cramps. Leg cramps usually go away in a few minutes.
What causes leg cramps during pregnancy, and can they be prevented?
Leg cramps — painful involuntary muscle contractions which typically affect the calf, foot or both — are common during pregnancy, often extreme at night during the third and second trimesters.
While the precise cause of leg cramps during pregnancy isn’t clear, you can take action to prevent them. For example:
Stretch your calf muscles.
Although evidence is lacking, stretching before bed might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Stand at arm’s length from a wall, then put your hands on the wall in front of you and move your right foot behind your left foot.
Slowly bend your left leg forward, keeping your right knee straight and your heels on the ground. Hold the stretch for approximately 30 seconds, being careful to keep your back straight and your hips forward. Do not rotate your toes inward or outward. Switch legs and repeat.
Regular physical activity might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Before you start an exercise program, make sure that you have your health care provider’s OK.
Take a magnesium supplement.
Very few research suggests that taking a magnesium supplement might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Make sure you have your health care provider’s OK to take a nutritional supplement. You might also look at eating more magnesium-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, dried fruits, seeds and nuts
Keep yourself hydrated.
keeping yourself hydrated might help in reducing leg cramps during pregnancy. Your urine should be somewhat clear or light yellow in colour if you’re properly hydrated. If your urine is darker yellow, it might indicate that you are not getting sufficient water.
Get adequate calcium.
Some research suggests decreased levels of calcium in your blood during pregnancy may lead to leg cramps. All women, including pregnant women, should get 1,000 mg of calcium a day
Choose proper footwear.
select the shoes with comfort, support and utility in mind. It might help to wear shoes with a firm heel countertop — the part of the shoe that surrounds the heel and helps lock the foot to the shoe.
If a leg cramp strikes, stretch the calf muscle on the side. Walking and then elevating your legs might help keep the leg cramp out of returning. A hot shower, warm bath, ice massage or muscle massage too might help.
In fact, nearly half of pregnant women report muscular spasms by the third trimester.
You may experience these cramps mainly at night time — just when you’d love to get the sleep you’re probably craving — and feel tightness in your calf, foot, or even both regions. Some women also experience them later sitting in one place for a long period of time.
It may not be possible to entirely prevent leg cramps. But preventative and relief steps like stretching, staying active, and drinking a lot of water may help ease your symptoms and get your head back on the true joys of pregnancy.
Let us begin with exactly what causes such cramps as knowledge is power when it comes to getting relief.
During pregnancy, circulation slows — that is completely normal rather than a reason to stress. (You probably know by now that hormones are gifts that keep on giving for the entire 40 months — and maybe beyond)
During the last trimesters, your body also experiences a rise in blood volume, which also leads to slow circulation. This may result in tingling and swelling in your legs.
Strategies for enhancing circulation while pregnant
Try sleeping on the left side.
Elevate your legs as often as you can — literally, locate the opportunity to put your feet up and unwind if you’re able to.
At night, put a pillow beneath or between your legs.
During the day, stand up and walk around every hour or two — particularly in case you’ve got a job that keeps you in a desk all day.
Quick check: Are you drinking enough water? During pregnancy, you are ideally drinking 8 to 12 cups of water every day. Look for symptoms of dehydration( such as dark yellowish pee (it ought to be clear or nearly clear).
Dehydration may worsen and lead to leg cramps. If you are experiencing them, try to increase your everyday water intake.
The pressure from your growing baby may take a toll on your nerves and blood vessels, including the nerves and blood vessels of legs. This is the reason you’re more prone to undergo leg cramps because your pregnancy progresses, especially in the third trimester.
Gaining a healthy weight and staying active during your pregnancy may help prevent leg cramps. Speak with your healthcare provider if you’re concerned.
It is normal to feel drowsy during pregnancy — you’re growing a small human! — and this is particularly true as you get more weight at the second and third trimester.
As your muscles get tired from the additional pressure, also, it may result in leg cramps. Try drinking plenty of water, going for a walk during the afternoon, and extending before bed to prevent leg cramps due to muscle fatigue.
Calcium or magnesium deficiency.
Having too little magnesium or calcium in your diet may contribute to leg cramps. But if you already take a prenatal vitamin, then you probably do not have to take another supplement.
A 2015 evaluation of research of 390 pregnant women found that taking calcium or calcium supplements produced little to no difference in regards to having leg cramps. If you are concerned, you are not getting enough of these nutrients, consult your doctor. You are probably getting labs done occasionally anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to have these levels assessed
DVT blood clot
A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) blood clot can occur in the legs, thigh, or pelvis. Pregnant women are 5 to ten times reliable Source more likely to come up with a DVT compared to non-pregnant women.
While there is no need to fear you’ll get one — it’s fairly uncommon to start with — we can’t say enough that knowledge is power. We are not talking marathons here, however, the best way to prevent DVT during pregnancy is to avoid hours at a time of inactivity.
If your work demands a lot of sitting, you can decide on a silent alarm in your telephone to go off every hour to remind you to get up and walk — perhaps to the water cooler to add to your water intake for the day! You may want to check with your doctor before flying while pregnant.
Signs of a blood clot are similar to leg cramps, but a DVT blood clot is a medical emergency. Seek medical care immediately if you experience symptoms such as: Plenty of pain in your legs when you’re standing or moving around severe swelling warm-to-the-touch skin near the affected region.
What remedies really work?
Stretching before bed
Performing a calf stretch before getting into bed at night may help prevent or help to reduce leg cramps. Follow these steps:
- Stand facing a wall, an arm’s length away.
- Place your hands on the wall in front of you.
- Step your right foot back. Keep your heels on the floor the whole time and bend your left knee while keeping your right leg straight. Keep your left knee bent as so you feel the stretch in your right calf muscle.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds. Switch legs, if needed.
Drinking plenty of water during pregnancy is crucial to prevent dehydration — and dehydration may also lead to people horrible leg cramps. Try to drink 8 to 12 cups of water every day during pregnancy.
Attempt applying heat to a cramping muscle. It may help reduce cramp. It’s not necessary to buy a fancy heating mat: you could also utilize a microwave-safe fabric bag (or a sock) filled with rice.
Massaging the area
When you get a leg cramp, doing a self-massage may help ease your pain. Use one hand to gently massage your calf or wherever your leg is cramping. Perform this self-massage for 30 seconds to a minute to facilitate your cramp.
You may also receive a prenatal massage, which can be a positively good experience. Start looking for a seasoned therapist in your area who specializes in working with pregnant women.
It is the best idea to remain active throughout your pregnancy, even though you do not need to overdo it.
With your doctor’s OK, pregnancy-safe activities like prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming may help you and your baby-to-be.
Staying active may prevent excess weight gain, boost circulation, and yes — help prevent leg cramps. Always stretch and warm-up before and after working out so that your muscles do not cramp up after, though.
Thus, perhaps you don’t have the time or energy to get a challenging hike or run. That is more than OK — you need to listen to your body and know your limitations, especially during pregnancy.
But sitting for long periods of time may lead to leg and muscle cramps. To avoid this, be certain you stand up and walk around every hour or two. Set a timer on your phone or see if you tend to forget to get up during the day.
When to see a doctor
- Leg cramps are a frequent pregnancy symptom. (That doesn’t make having them easier, but hopefully, it turns out that the stress dials a little.)
- If you’re worried about your pain or they’re causing too much-lost shut-eye, mention it in your next prenatal checkup.
- Also, call your health care provider and let them know if your leg cramps are severe, persistent, or worsening. You may need supplements or medication.
- Seek medical help immediately in the event that you experience severe swelling in one or both legs, pain walking, or enlarged veins. These may be indications of a blood clot.
Call Doctor If:
- You have tenderness, swelling, redness, or warmth at the leg.
- The pain doesn’t go away.
- You have difficulty walking.
- You think you need to take calcium supplements.
Stopping leg cramps before they start
To prevent leg cramps, try the following:
- Drink between 8 and 12 cups of water per day.
- Stay active throughout your pregnancy.
- Stretch out your calf muscles.
- Wear comfortable shoes — leave the heels at home!
- Eat a balanced diet with calcium- and magnesium-rich foods like yoghurt, leafy greens, whole grains, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds
- Do calf stretches. Stretch along with your heels bent. Stretch before bed if you get cramps at night.
- Avoid standing or sitting in one position for a long time.
- Proceed around. Don’t sit with your legs crossed or other manners that may hamper blood circulation.
- Take a walk daily or perform another routine exercise to stop fractures, with your physician’s OK.
- Drink lots of fluids to keep your muscles hydrated.
- If you get cramps at night, take a bath before bed to relax leg muscles.
- Whenever you’ve got a cramp, put a warm towel or warm water bottle on the region.