Leg cramps (excruciating, uncontrollable muscular spasms that attack your foot, calf, or both) affect about half of all pregnant women. Pregnancy leg cramps are prevalent, especially in the second and third trimesters.
Although the specific reason for these muscle spasms is unknown, pregnancy weight gain, nutritional deficiencies, and changes in your blood circulation may contribute to leg cramps. The nerves and blood vessels that supply your legs may become compressed by the pressure of the developing baby.
What are leg cramps?
Leg cramps are abrupt, involuntary, intense muscle pains that typically occur in the calf, foot, or thigh. They are sometimes referred to as "Charley horses."
As a result of the cramp, your leg may occasionally spasm or stiffen up excessively.
- Cramps are usually not harmful, but they can be uncomfortable to live with.
- They affect your quality of sleep, exercise regimen, and overall well-being.
- They may be brought on by certain illnesses and medications, and there are several risk factors you should keep away from.
When a cramp strikes, try flexing the affected muscle, applying heat or ice, and massaging the area.
How to avoid and treat pregnancy leg cramps
Avoid and treat pregnancy leg cramps in the following ways:
- Stretch your calf muscle: Stretching before bed may help avoid leg cramps during pregnancy although there isn't enough research to support this. Place your hands on the wall in front of you while standing at arm's length from a wall; step your right foot behind your left. Keep your right knee straight and your right heel on the ground as you slowly bend your left leg forward. Keeping your back straight and your hips forward, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds. Keep your feet from turning inward or outward. Repeat while changing legs.
- Massage: The most common approach to relieve a cramp and reduce the agony that comes with it is massage. The cramp can be relieved by rubbing the affected muscle and, occasionally, nearby muscles.
- Add heat: You can use a heating pad, a microwave-heated cloth bag of rice, or some over-the-counter air-activated heating pads to apply heat to your cramping muscle.
- Epsom salt bath: Warm baths can frequently relieve cramps and pain, but Epsom salt baths are typically somewhat more effective. They aid in your general relaxation and make your muscles feel less tense.
- Ice the pain: To treat a cramping muscle, wrap some ice from the refrigerator in a soft towel or use an ice pack. The discomfort brought on by the cramping muscle is frequently relieved by this cold.
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated will help you avoid cramping. If you are well hydrated, your urine should be reasonably clear or light yellow. If your urine is a darker shade of yellow, you may not be drinking enough water.
- Get enough calcium: According to several studies, leg cramps during pregnancy may be caused by low blood calcium levels. Your doctor may prescribe calcium supplements along with a calcium-rich diet.
- Increase your magnesium intake: According to some studies, a magnesium supplement may help avoid leg cramps during pregnancy. Make sure you have your doctor's approval before using a supplement. You can think about increasing your intake of foods high in magnesium, such as whole grains, beans, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.
- Pick out the right footwear: Consider utility, support, and comfort while choosing your footwear. Wearing shoes with a solid heel counter—the area of the shoe that surrounds the heel and aids in locking the foot into the shoe—might be beneficial.
- Stay active: Avoid leg cramps during pregnancy with regular exercise. Make sure you get your doctor's approval before starting an exercise regimen.
When to contact your doctor
Leg cramps during pregnancy are generally harmless and self-limiting.
You must, however, contact your doctor if:
- The pain is severe or persistent.
- Your legs are considerably swollen.
- You notice enlarged veins on your leg or feet.
- You observe any change in color, temperature, or sensations over the legs.
Top How to Get Rid of Leg Cramps During Pregnancy Related Articles
4 Common Discomforts of PregnancyPregnancy comes with huge hormonal changes that can cause discomfort, including morning sickness, heartburn, constipation and headaches. Learn what causes these symptoms and how you can cope with them.
Pregnancy Discomforts: Common CausesDuring pregnancy, most women will experience discomforts during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimesters. Common causes of discomforts during pregnancy include nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), fatigue, breast swelling and pain, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, mood swings, dizziness, migraines, tooth pain and bleeding gums, and pica. Common causes of pregnancy discomforts include constipation, heartburn, indigestion, reflux, varicose veins, abdominal pain, problems sleeping, congested or bloody nose, and flu like body aches.
When Should I Be Concerned About Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?Pelvic pain in pregnancy is a common issue that affects many women. Learn what causes pelvic pain in pregnancy, how doctors diagnose pelvic pain in pregnancy, and what you can do to treat pelvic pain in pregnancy. Pelvic pain is common in women and can have a variety of causes. Some of the possibilities include inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and endometriosis.
16 Early Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy: Could You Be Pregnant?What are the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy? Can you know before your missed period? Read about nausea and vomiting (morning sickness), bloating, tender breasts, and more. Explore first trimester symptoms of pregnancy and learn what week pregnancy symptoms start.
Exercise & PregnancyPregnancy exercises and workouts for moms-to-be include Kegel exercises and prenatal yoga. A prenatal workout is an important part of healthy living. Try these safe exercises for pregnancy.
How Do You Stop a Cramp Fast?The most effective treatment for muscle cramps depends on the underlying cause but may include the following.
Leg Cramps at Night: Causes and PreventionNocturnal leg cramps, also known as sleep-related leg cramps or charley horse, are sudden, painful muscle contractions occurring at night that can disturb sleep. It usually affects the calf or foot and may last for several seconds to minutes.
Muscle CrampsMuscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Muscle Cramps: Foods That Help and Prevent CrampingOne way to prevent muscle cramps is to get enough of these nutrients: potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. They’re called electrolytes, and you can find them in these foods.
Muscle Cramps: TreatmentMuscle cramps cannot be stopped instantly with injections or pills, but some methods can be useful to relieve them which include stretching, massage, application of heat and cold, walking and taking B vitamins.
Pregnancy Myths and Facts QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this pregnancy myths and facts quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
What Does Early Pregnancy Cramping Feel Like?Many people experience cramping early in their pregnancy. Learn the signs of cramping, what causes it, when to see a doctor, and what you can do to treat it. The first week of the pregnancy is when the egg has been released from the ovum, the egg then combines with sperm and conception occurs. Progesterone and estrogen hormones, which are a part of the normal menstrual cycle, rise dramatically. A new hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) begins to be produced as well.
What Trimester Are You Most Tired During Pregnancy?It is common to feel tired during pregnancy. For most women, the first trimester is the one that causes the most fatigue.
When Should I Worry About Back Pain in Pregnancy?Back pain is one of the most common problems women face during pregnancy. You should be worried about back pain in pregnancy if you have severe pain, a fever, tingling, and other concerning symptoms.