Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

image001Getting into your cozy mattress after a tiring day gives your feet a welcoming relief but pain in legs during pregnancy can seriously affect your sleep and unfortunately doesn’t respond much to rest or relaxation. Most of the pregnant woman experience leg cramps during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. The most significant contributing factors include a substantial increase in weight, pedal swelling and added effects of fatigue that can also affect the quality of sleep and adds to the psychological frustration. There are lots of things that you can do to treat and prevent leg cramps during pregnancy.

What Causes Leg Cramps During Pregnancy?

  • Increased weight. There are several reasons that may contribute to leg cramps during pregnancy. During pregnancy and with weight gain, the lower limb are subjected to added pressure and stress to work against the extra weight.
  • Growing uterus. Secondly the growing size of uterus also contributes to the added amount of pressure on the major veins of leg.
  • Hormones. When these physiological factors are combined with the effects of pregnancy hormones (such as progesterone) the chances of tension in muscles increases substantially leading to cramps and pain in limbs.
  • Nutrient deficiency. Other factors that can aggravate the risk of developing leg cramps are deficiency of certain nutrients like magnesium or calcium in body. The level of nutrients in circulating blood can be low because developing baby is dependent on the maternal nutrients for her growth that can exacerbate the nutritional deficiency.

The resultant effect is, aching legs that feel tired and heavy all the time. The legs cramps during pregnancy are sometimes so severe that the pregnant mommy may experience trouble in getting restful sleeps after tiring day.

When to Worry About Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

If a female experiences constant muscle pain or notice redness, tenderness or swelling in legs (with or without changes in the temperature of superficial skin); call the doctor immediately. This might be a signs of deep venous thrombosis (formation of blood clot in deep veins of leg) that require urgent medical attention. Generally, deep venous thrombosis is a rare condition but it has been observed that a lot of pregnant females are at risk of developing DVT due to changes in the consistency and pressure of blood (under the influence of pregnancy hormones).

How to Relieve Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

1. Practice Those Stretching Exercises

If a pregnant woman experiences camps in legs, stretching the limb muscles often helps in early relief.

  • Straighten up the heel followed by straightening the leg and flexing the toes towards shins. At first it may cause pain but this will help in easing spasm and gradually you will experience resolution in pain symptoms. image002
  • Stand in front of a wall by maintaining an arm distance and place your hands on the wall. Plant the left foot in front of the right foot. Now slowly bend your left leg in forward direction. Make sure your right knee is straight and right heel is touching the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds (but make sure to keep your hips forward and back straight). Avoid rotating feet outward or inward and do not point the toes. Now switch the leg and repeat again.
  • Place the feet and maintain moderate distance between your feet. Stand 2 to 3 feet away from wall. Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Place the hands on wall and maintain shoulder width distance. Now lean forward by bending elbows. You will experience stretching in both the calves. If the stretch is painful or discomforting, you can use the support from the wall.

2. Walk

image003Walking is a gentle preventive exercise that reduces the intensity of pain and cramps during pregnancy. During walking or other forms of physical activity, the contraction and expansion of muscles serves as a massaging tool for calf muscles by increasing the blood circulation of leg muscles. Improved blood circulation helps because poor blood circulation oxygen doesn’t reach the leg muscles that may lead to leg cramps.

3. More Tips

  • Massaging the calf muscles by hand also resolves the cramps
  • You can also use hot water bottle to keep the muscles warm. Sometimes standing on a cold surface also helps in the management of leg cramps of pregnancy.

How to Prevent Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

Following tips are helpful in preventing leg cramps during pregnancy.

Measures

Description

Stretch

Regularly stretch the calf muscles during day time and before going to bed helps in preventing leg contractions during pregnancy.

Keep active

It is important to stay active during pregnancy as it helps in preventing leg camps. Before starting any physical exercise or regimen, consult your health care provider for advice.

Walk daily unless restricted by midwife or doctor.

Improve circulation

Avoid taking stress. Lie down along the left side of your body to enhance the blood circulation in legs.

Keep hydrated

It is important to keep yourself hydrated to prevent leg spasms. Use the color of your urine as an indication of your tissue hydration status.

Choose proper footwear

It is important to select proper footwear that is comfortable and allow you to walk comfortably. Wearing long counter shoes are also helpful in preventing leg cramps.

Avoid sitting for long

Do not sit or stand for longer periods of time (especially avoid sitting with crossed-legs). While sitting, watching TV or eating food wiggle the toes and rotate the ankles.

The Controversy over Calcium and Magnesium Supplement

Leg contractions can also be a sign that a female is calcium deficient. But several studies showed that taking calcium supplement may not ease leg cramps as compared to consuming placebo.

According to the latest research based recommendations, consumption of magnesium supplement with prenatal vitamin helps in preventing leg cramps during pregnancy. Magnesium can be consumed from magnesium rich foods like beans, whole grains, and seeds, nuts and dried fruits. It can also be consumed from supplements.

However, some research scientists are against magnesium consumption via supplementation during pregnancy. Therefore, it is ideally recommended to seek advice from your healthcare provider regarding supplementation of magnesium.

Follow the video for additional tips to manage leg cramps during pregnancy: