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Pregnancy Topics..

You are here : home > Pregnancy > Medical Aspects of Pregnancy > Leg Cramps

Leg Cramps

Read on to find out how to prevent leg cramps during pregnancy and some tips on dealing with them.

Leg cramps are a common occurrence during pregnancy especially in the third trimester. Studies have revealed that nearly half of all expecting women experience leg cramps. They occur more frequently towards the evening and night. Though the exact reasons for these sometimes excruciating leg spasms are unknown, many theories abound for the same. The most common supposition is that the developing baby and expanding uterus exert pressure on the arteries that go into the legs. Other factors that are blamed for the leg cramps are nutritional deficiencies. As the volume of blood rises during pregnancy, there is a dilution of nutrients such as calcium and potassium.  This may lead to painful cramps in the legs.

Preventing Leg Cramps during Pregnancy

Here is how you can prevent leg cramps during pregnancy.
  1. Try not to sit or stand for extended periods of time especially with legs that are crossed. Crossing your legs limits the blood supply to your legs and may cause swelling.

  2. In case you need to sit or stand for a long time, prop up your legs on a small table or take little walks. This will help to ease up the blood circulation to your legs.

  3. Ensure that you exercise regularly as directed by your doctor. The exercise routines will help tone up your muscles and also increase blood circulation and oxygen supply to the different parts of your body.

  4. Drink plenty of fluids especially water. This will keep your body well hydrated ensuring easy relaxation and contraction of muscles of the legs.

  5. When going to bed, keep your legs in a relaxed, comfortable position and also slightly elevated.

  6. Having a warm luxurious bath before bedtime is a good idea to help you relax and cope with the painful cramps when they occur.

  7. Make it a habit before getting into bed to perform gentle exercises that stretch the calf area muscles. This will get rid of accumulated stiffness in the region and unwind properly.

  8. Absolutely avoid lying on your back as this may increase chances of leg cramps. Lying on your back decreases the blood supply to your legs. Always lie on your left side which will boost blood circulation.

  9. While in bed, do not point your toes as this may cause leg cramps.

  10. Take nutritional supplements containing calcium and magnesium. However, it is essential that you consult your doctor or health care provider before doing so to avoid possible complications or health issues.

  11. Eat potassium rich foods such as dried apricots, potatoes, soy flour, raisins, molasses and bananas. Molasses is rich in potassium and one spoon of molasses has more potassium than even two bananas. You could substitute molasses as a sweetener for bread cookies, biscuits or pancakes.

  12. Alternate periods of activity with adequate rest and wear support tights can help to prevent with leg cramps.

Tips on Managing Leg Pain during Pregnancy

Here is how you can manage leg pain during pregnancy.

Do Not Panic

If you suddenly experience a painful leg cramp, try not to panic. Immediately stop whatever you are doing and take a deep breath. Panicking may aggravate the pain felt by the cramps. Take several deep breaths and concentrate on soothing yourself.

Do Some Gentle Stretching

Stretch your legs gently.  If you can manage, try standing up. Slowly crook your foot at the heel and flex your toes up pointing toward your knee. Also try walking around in circles until you feel relief from the pain. You could also try massaging the area in-between your first and second toes.

Do a Gentle Massage

You can massage the painful area or have your partner or someone else gently massage the area affected by the painful spasms and soak it in lukewarm water.

Use Heat Pad or Hot Water Bag

Apply a heat pad, hot water bag or a warm towel to the area of the cramps to relax the muscle. However, if the pain persists, occurs more frequently than usual or if there is a swelling or inflammation in your legs, visit your doctor. There might be a possibly of a blood clot which may require immediate medical attention.

Leg cramps are an uncomfortable part of the complicated process of pregnancy. New life is being developed and sustained within your body. However, if you take adequate steps and precautions to prevent these painful leg cramps, you can reduce their frequency. And if you also know what to do when you are struck by these painful muscle pains during pregnancy, you can deal with them better.

What are the causes for leg cramps during pregnancy? How to prevent leg cramps during pregnancy? What are the home remedies for dealing with leg cramps during pregnancy? Discuss here.

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Mirinda.5 years ago
i tried elevating my legs on pillows while sleeping and i also avoid long standing hours. this has helped me a lot and has also brought down leg cramps.
Tisky.5 years ago
the pain due to leg cramps is now becoming unbearable. can i take otc pain killers or crocin as crocin is considered safe.
Monica.8 years ago
i am really in lot of discomfort because of this pain any suggested remedy...
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