A woman’s body goes through a lot during the phase of pregnancy. It may be an amazing phase for a woman but she has to go through a lot to enjoy the joys of motherhood. There are many health glitches that an expecting mother has to suffer and survive. The body acquires certain abnormalities that are quite common during this phase. Some of the common ailments are headaches, upset stomach, extreme anxiety, giddiness, fatigue and weakness. Leg cramps are one of the common ailments that pregnancy brings. These painful spasms radiate through the calves and up the legs, especially during the night. They usually begin during the third trimester, around the 19th week of pregnancy and last till the end of the trimester.
The exact cause of leg cramps during pregnancy is unknown, but doctors guess that it might be due to the pressure on the uterus on certain nerves leading to fatigue, or diminished movement in your legs from the pressure of the baby on blood vessels. Fatigue from carrying pregnancy weight and compression of blood vessels in the legs is considered to be one of the major reasons for cramps in the legs during pregnancy. The muscle of legs may be aggravated to the point of discomfort by the pressure of the expanding uterus on the blood vessels that return blood from the legs to the heart and the nerves that lead from your trunk to the legs. It could also be the diet that contains an excess of phosphorus and a shortage of calcium or magnesium. Pregnancy hormones could also be the reason, since they seem to cause so many pregnancy aches and pains.
See More: Cramping While Pregnant
When Does It Affect The Most?
Leg cramps in pregnancy mostly start to plague you during your second trimester. They may get worse as your pregnancy progresses and your belly gets bigger. The cramps are experienced mainly during nighttime. However, one might also experience cramps during the day. The excruciating pain of the leg cramps can make it difficult for you to sleep at night and work during the day.
Leg cramps in pregnancy are involuntary contractions in the muscles of calf and foot or both, and these are quite common during pregnancy.The spasms of leg cramps can radiate up and down your calves during the day, but they’re usually more prominent at night. It is when fatigue, fluid accumulation and retention are at the peak. Leg cramps while pregnant are especially common after the second trimester of pregnancy, when there is weight gain due to pregnancy, increased swelling, and overall fatigue are on the rise.
How To Cure:
When you are hit by a sudden attack of leg cramps, you could do the following to relieve yourself.
- Straighten your leg and gently flex your ankle and toes back toward your shins several times.
- You could try standing on a cold surface, which can sometimes stop a spasm.
- Massage your calf and leg muscles to relieve the contraction.
- Walk around a bit to relax the muscles in the leg.
- Try using a hot water bottle or a heating pad to cure the cramps.
- If nothing works, visit a doctor or expert as it could be a case of clotting of blood.
How To Prevent:
It’s best to prevent the leg cramps while pregnant when it hasn’t hit than to try to deal with it in a sudden attack of it. Here are a few ways to prevent the cramps.
See More: 5 Weeks Pregnant Cramping
1. Aerobic Exercise:
Stretching exercises can be helpful for stopping the cramps, even before they strike. Before you hit the bed after a long and tiring day, rest your hands on a wall by standing two feet away from it. Keep your heels on the floor and lean forward. Stay in this position for about ten seconds, and then relax for about five seconds. Repeat this simple exercise three times every night before going to bed.
Have periods of rest every alternate periods of activity such as to not overwork your body. Put your feet up as often as you can when you’re seated.
Wear support hose during the day to support the weight around.
4. Hydrate Yourself:
Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, at least eight glasses a day. Keep yourself hydrated and active.
5. Proper Diet:
Eat a well-balanced diet that includes lots of calcium, magnesium, vitamins and minerals. Yogurt has many health benefits. You could include yogurt in your diet. Bananas have high doses of magnesium. Take approved and suggested vitamin supplements to guarantee the consumption of essential vitamins and minerals. This must help in averting leg cramp during pregnancy.
6. Every Day Walk:
Unless your doctor has strongly recommended otherwise, a short walk every day will definitely help the muscles in your legs to not disturb your night’s slumber. It will prevent the leg muscles from contracting and having spasms at night.
7. Warm Bath:
You can try having a warm bath every night before hitting the bed to relax your muscles and relieve yourself from the long and tiring day. This will help fight leg cramp during pregnancy.
8. Do Not Overwork:
Avoid getting too tired for any reason whatsoever. Lie down on your left side to improve circulation to and from your legs. Do not stress yourself with household chores or any other physical work.
9. Proper Footwear:
Choose shoes that spell comfort, support and utility. It will be beneficial if shoes with a firm heel counter are worn. The part of the shoe that surrounds the heel and helps lock the foot into the shoe is called the counter. Avoid heels and shoes that do not fit properly.
See More: 4 Weeks Pregnant Symptoms Cramping
Leg Cramps During Early Pregnancy:
Most pregnant women experience cramps and aches during their pregnancy. Muscles cramps particularly are common. Since these cramps are signs of dehydration or lack of the required nutrients, ensure you’re hydrated. Leg cramps usually start in the second or the third trimester of pregnancy. These cramps, also known as Charley Horse, can appear suddenly and the causes are still not known. Taking your vitamins and staying hydrated helps deal with leg cramps at any stage of pregnancy, though it is not so common in the first trimester.
Leg Cramps During Pregnancy While Sleeping:
Muscle cramps in pregnancy is quite common and more than 50% of pregnant women, go through this discomfort of leg cramps during pregnancy while sleeping. These cramps often strike at night when you’re sleeping. These cramps are caused by the contraction of the muscles in your calf and you may experience sharp and acute pain. Be sure to take prenatal vitamins and supplements and drink plenty of water to keep these cramps at bay. There are no apparent reasons for the cramps to appear at nights, you can take precautions and manage the pain. However, if you’ve tried several remedied and are still struggling with extreme pain, it is best to consult a doctor.
Here’s are a Few Home Remedies for Leg Cramps During Pregnancy:
A warm often helps with the cramp and pain, but try a warm bath with Epsom salt. It is usually a little more effective. The warm bath with this salt helps you relax overall and it eases the tension in your muscles.
Ginger is almost indispensable. The magnesium content in it helps tackle leg cramps. Try this method of making ginger tea:
- Grate one tablespoon of fresh ginger.
- Add it to two cups of water and bring it to boil.
- Leave it on the pan with a lid on for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the tea.
- Add a spoon of honey and squeeze the juice of half a lemon and enjoy this tea.
This homemade ginger tea not just eases cramps but helps with digestion, flu, cough, etc.
Leg cramps during pregnancy are a common. There is nothing to really worry about when you are attacked by the calf muscles. They are not usually a cause for concern unless they persist and are severe. If the cramps and pain persist, it is best to visit a doctor. Seek medical advice if the pain is nagging, or if there is swelling, redness, tenderness or warmth in the affected area.These might be caused due to clotting of blood and requires immediate attention of the doctor. Though these are rare, the possibility should not be ignored as they become common during pregnancy.