Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

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Leg cramps are painful muscle contractions that typically affect the calf, foot or both. They are common during pregnancy, often happening at night during the second and third trimesters.

What causes leg cramps during pregnancy?

There are many reasons suggested for cramps while you’re pregnant, such as changes to your metabolism, having a vitamin deficiency, being too active or not being active enough. However, nobody really knows why they occur in pregnancy.

How can I get rid of cramps?

To ease a leg cramp, you can try:

  • stretching the muscle by pulling your toes hard up towards the front of your ankle
  • rubbing the muscle firmly
  • walking around
  • a heat pack

you can ask your partner to help.

If your muscles are still sore after the cramp has gone, you can take pain relief medicine prescribed by your doctor.

How can I prevent leg cramps?

Things you can try that might help prevent cramps include:

  • Stretching your calf muscles before you go to bed: Stretching before bed might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Stand at arm’s length from a wall. Place 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 right heel on the floor. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds. Keep your back straight and your hips forward. Don’t shift your feet inward or outward. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Drinking plenty of water: Keeping your muscles hydrated might help prevent cramps. When you’re drinking enough fluids, your urine should be clear or light yellow in colour. If urine is darker yellow, it might mean that you’re not getting enough water.
  • Stay active: Regular physical activity might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Before you begin an exercise program, talk to your health care provider to make sure it’s safe for you.
  • Wear the right shoes: Pick shoes that are comfortable and provide good support for your feet. It might help to wear shoes with a firm heel counter. That’s the part that surrounds the heel and helps secure the foot in the shoe.
  • Get your calcium: Some research suggests that lower levels of calcium in the blood during pregnancy could contribute to leg cramps. If you’re pregnant or could become pregnant, get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.
  • Consider a magnesium supplement: Although the evidence from research studies is mixed, taking a magnesium supplement might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider before you take a supplement. You also might consider eating more magnesium-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.
  • Stretch the calf muscle: Walking and then sitting and raising your legs might help keep the leg cramp from coming back.

A hot shower, warm bath, ice massage or muscle massage may help too.

If you’re interested in trying supplements, talk to your doctor about whether they might be suitable for you.