Almost 50% women face the problem of leg cramps during pregnancy when they are already undergoing many changes in the body. These leg cramps start from the calves up to the legs. This starts happening around middle of the second trimester and continue to happen through the third trimester of pregnancy.One mostly experiences them while lying down. They can significantly affect the quality of sleep. Basically leg cramps are nothing but muscular contractions which happen due to the pressure of the growing fetus on blood vessels and nerves, decreased blood circulation and dehydration in the body.One can easily manage leg cramps by adopting more than one ways simultaneously. We will discuss them but let us first try to understand the causes of leg cramps.
Though nobody is absolutely sure, but many blame the increased weight in pregnancy which causes fatigue. Also there is blood vessel compression in the legs. Another potential reason is an improper diet, which is poor in calcium and magnesium, and has excess phosphorus. As pregnancy hormones cause so many pains and aches, they might be causing or contributing to leg cramps too. These painful spasms in your calf muscles (they mostly occur at night) will wake you up suddenly.
Things to know
Though a short-cut way to get relief when you experience leg cramps might be to spend rest of the day lying on bed, it will affect your sleeping routine greatly. You will notice them most in the night as fatigue and fluid accumulation are at their maximum levels.
Avoid prolonged sitting, especially with your legs crossed or standing in the same position. In addition to your current physical activity routine, just add a mild short walk, remember to do this in an alternating pattern of activity and rest.Rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes when you sit, eat dinner, or watch TV.Leg cramps during pregnancy can be easily prevented by doing light calf stretching exercises. 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, being careful to keep your back straight and your hips forward. Don’t rotate your feet inward or outward and avoid pointing your toes. Switch legs and repeat.One must invest half an hour daily for this. For relaxing the muscles , taking a warm shower before sleeping can be great, and prenatal massage is always a plus. To prevent painful leg cramps, slowly flex and release your foot ten times before going to bed each night.But, don’t get overtired for sure.
Vegetarian foods rich in Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium & Vitamin C are extremely effective in preventing leg cramps during pregnancy. Some of the common intakes for these are green vegetables, sweet corns, apple, dates, dairy products, pulses, salads, oranges, grapes , leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes etc. which are easily available in your kitchen. Now that you’re pregnant, you should have 4,700 mg of potassium, 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium and 350 to 360 mg of magnesium per day.This should be accompanied by minimum two to three liters of water daily.
Your footwear must be comfortable. It should be chosen while taking into account its utility and support. Avoid heels,flats are the favorites here. Rather go for one which supports and surrounds the heels up to maximum height possible.
In addition to an improved diet you can get yourselves prescribed by your doctor for multivitamin and mineral supplements. These will provide your body with the right nutrients to tackle leg cramps during pregnancy.
Still you get them, what to do?
The best treatment for leg cramps is to stand barefoot on a hard floor and lift your toes up.
You should straighten your legs and gently flex your toes and ankles backward several times.Stand on a cold surface, this can be helpful sometimes. See your doctor right away if these two doesn’t help – as the pain might be caused by a blood clot(though this happens in rare cases). Don’t massage it as this could make it worse or allow it to travel.
Its worth to try a heating pad or a prenatal massage for extra relief, if stretching and cold have worked well for you.If you continue be bothered by leg cramps, consider wearing support hose, and avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time without a break.
It is nothing to worry when really bad cramps cause pain for a few days. If the pain is severe and persistent, along with redness or swelling in the area, talk to your doctor.In case its a blood clot it will need medical treatment.
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