Leg cramps is a common symptom associated with pregnancy. Although a cramp lasts for less than a minute, the pain can be very acute and intense.
Why do we get leg cramps?
One of the most common reasons for developing leg crams is the increased weight on your legs. As your child and your tummy grow bigger, the pressure of holding up and carrying your baby around is felt most by your legs.
Another reason is that as your uterus expands, it puts more pressure on the nerves and veins that send blood to and fro from the heart to the legs.
It is also widely speculated in medical circles that an excess of phosphorous could cause leg cramps. This is because phosphorous hampers the body's ability to absorb calcium. Although a certain amount of phosphorous is good for you, too much can lead to leg cramps. You do need to increase your calcium intake in any case when you are pregnant - just make sure you don't increase your phosphorous intake as well. Foods rich in phosphorous include snacks, soft drinks and processed meats. However, leg cramps often occur even in women on high calcium supplements, suggesting that calcium deficiency may not be the cause. Another theory states that taking magnesium supplements help. Don't take any supplements without first checking with your doctor.
Even if you do have strong muscles, they may have weakened somewhat if you had been unable to exercise in your first trimester. As a result even reasonably fit women can expect to encounter episodes of cramps. If your doctor has not stopped you from exercising during pregnancy, do make sure you walk every day, if you are not doing any other form of exercise. Walking strengthens your legs, and improves circulation. Start with a half an hour walk, and work up to walking at least one hour everyday. Don't slack off and be irregular. You could even try walking twice a day if you cannot devote an hour at a stretch.
Stretch your calf muscles to keep them supple and prevent cramps. Stand around two to three feet from a wall, with your arms outstretched and palms pressed against the wall. Slowly, bend your elbows and lean forwards. Feel the stretch in your calves. Hold to the count of ten, and slowly release. Do this simple stretch a number of times during the day, and around 5 times before going to bed, every night.
Many women stop drinking water at night during their pregnancy, for good reason. They don't want to make frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate and have a disturbed sleep. A good night's rest is important for mother and baby. However, do compensate this inadequate intake at night by increasing your water intake during the day.
Wear loose clothing at all times. Don't wear anything that may restrict blood flow to your legs.
Sitting cross-legged is both easy and beneficial during pregnancy. This position improves blood flow to the legs. Sit cross-legged as often as possible. If you work on a computer, try and sit on cross-legged on a wide chair. Every morning, sit in this position and breathe deeply for fifteen minutes.