Leg Cramps during Pregnancy

Leg cramps refer to the painful involuntary muscle cramps in the leg. These cramps are common during pregnancy, particularly in the second and third trimesters. Cramps may occur in the calf muscles or foot and sometimes in both these parts. Cramps are more common during the evening time and can affect a good sleep in the night too. Leg cramps may start in the second trimester but may aggravate as the bump grows with the progress of pregnancy.

Causes

The actual cause of leg cramps is not clear. It is considered to be caused by the additional weight gain during pregnancy. Changes in blood circulation may also lead to these contractions. Pressure from the growing bump may pinch the blood vessels or nerves, leading to leg cramps. Swelling caused by the accumulation of fluid in the leg can result in cramps.

Management

Stretching your calf muscles helps to relieve cramps. To stretch the muscles, lie on your side and keep your affected leg straight. In this position, flex your toes back toward the shin. The pain will gradually fade. After stretching, massage the muscle slightly. You may also apply warm compress on the muscle. Walk around a little bit after the stretch.

Prevention

  • Stay active – regular exercise is the best way to keep leg cramps at bay. Do remember to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine.
  • Keep yourselves well hydrated – stay hydrated throughout the day to reduce cramps in legs.
  • Lie on your left side – this will improve the circulation in the legs and reduce chances of cramps.
  • Warm water bath – a warm water bath before bedtime will help in relaxing the muscles and prevent cramps.
  • Move your toes and ankle – rotate your toes and ankle slowly while relaxing.

When should you inform doctor for leg cramps?

Do talk to your doctor if

  • leg cramps are not relieved with simple tips as mentioned above
  • there is persistent muscle pain
  • you notice swelling, redness, or tenderness in the leg
  • legs are warm to touch

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