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Leg Cramps in Pregnancy

Leg Cramps in Pregnancy-2

Pregnancy can be a time of great joy. However no matter how over the moon you are about your pregnancy, it can come with its fair share of discomforts. There are the obvious nausea and back pain, but some women also experience leg cramps in pregnancy.

Leg cramps in pregnancy seem to occur most commonly at night and more often in the second and third trimesters. This often adds insult to injury by disrupting much needed sleep as your leg muscle seizes up causing shooting pain.

During pregnancy your muscles are bearing increasing weight while at the same time your growing uterus in placing pressure on the main vein from your legs. This combined with increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy affects the muscle tone in your legs. In addition a shortage of calcium or magnesium can exacerbate leg cramps in pregnancy.

What to do When a Leg Cramp Occurs

If a leg cramp wakes you, stretch the muscle by stretching out your leg, pushing your heel down and bringing your toes up. Grabbing your toes and drawing them gently towards you shin can help, but later in pregnancy this might become physically impossible! Massaging the muscle may also help to soothe leg cramps in pregnancy.

If you find the cramp is not lessening, you may need to get up and walk around for a few minutes to increase circulation to the area.

Preventing Leg Cramps in Pregnancy

There is no conclusive evidence that any particular treatment lessens the frequency or severity of leg cramps however things you might like to try include:
  • Taking a good quality calcium and magnesium supplement, preferably one that is chelated or that includes amino acids to aid absorption
  • Drinking plenty of water, at least ten standard glasses a day
  • Avoiding standing for long periods or sitting with your legs crossed
  • Taking a warm (not hot!) bath before going to bed
  • Placing a pillow between your knees when sleeping
  • Eating more dark leafy green vegetables, which are high in naturally occurring calcium
  • Doing gentle calf stretches, foot exercises and Tailor Sitting to stretch and gently tone your muscles

When to Contact your Midwife or Doctor

It is always important to tell your midwife or doctor to any discomforts you experience during pregnancy. If the pain you experience with leg cramps in pregnancy is persistent or is not relieved by stretching, contact your midwife or doctor to rule out any other possible issues.

Videos Demonstrating Some of These Stretches

Calf Stretches

Foot and Leg Exercises

Tailor Sitting

Published on 29/07/2013

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