Muscle Cramps in pregnancy are nasty!
They usually occur during the second and third trimester and most often strike at night, when you've finally fallen asleep after finding a comfortable position! Muscle cramps mostly affect the feet and calves although sometimes even the thigh muscles. The cause is not really known but it's thought the extra weight from the baby and potential swelling in the legs (also common during pregnancy) could contribute. Being on your feet all day could also be a factor to increasing the frequency of muscle cramps.
Is there a way to prevent leg cramps?
Whilst there is no definitive answer, these things may help:
- Try to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day and avoid crossing your legs.
- Stay active, moderate gentle exercise like walking, stretching or yoga.
- Wear good quality supportive footwear - might be time to ditch the thongs!
- Stretch your calf muscles gently before bed (see below)
- Keep hydrated - your pee will be clear or very light yellow when you are well hydrated, if it's yellow or even dark yellow increase your water intake.
- check your diet, are you getting enough potassium, calcium and magnesium? The humble banana can help you there.
- Magnesium - the best way for your body to absorb it is via the skin - soak in a warm relaxing magnesium salt bath, apply magnesium cream to the affected areas & there is an oral mouth spray. These have been shown to absorb faster and more effectively into your system than a regular supplement tablet (always see your care provider for medical advice)
- When lying down or sleeping lie on your left side, this will take the pressure of the main arteries and veins in your lower body, helping keep your circulation working efficiently.
What should I do when I feel my leg starting to cramp?
For calf muscle cramps, get up out of bed and have a little walk around, and stretch out your calf.
For cramps in your feet &/or calves have your partner (or even yourself) massage the muscles until your feel the spasm release. Try not to point your toes - this can make it worse.
Pour a warm bath and add magnesium even some lavender essential oil - light a few candles and relax!
Remember: use this time to BREATHE! Practice your breathing techniques during times of discomfort - this will work to retrain your brain when you feel pain or feeling stressed. Holding your breath starves your body (& muscles) of the oxygen they need to work properly.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat or offer medical advice. The content is purely provided as information to consider when making decisions about your own health care. Please seek medical advice for any health concerns you may have.