Leg cramps

Is it more common to have leg cramps in pregnancy? Why is this so?

Yes, about half of all pregnant women will suffer from leg cramps during their pregnancy. This usually starts about the second trimester and may worsen as the pregnancy progresses. Even though it may occur during the day time it is more common during the night.
There are several reasons while leg cramps increases during pregnancy. It may be due to your leg muscle being tired as your weight increases, decreases blood circulation and compression of the nerve that lead from your trunks to your legs by your growing uterus.
What could I do to prevent legs cramps from happening?
  • Avoid standing too long and crossing your legs while sitting
  • Exercise regularly e.g walking and swimming
  • Do some stretching exercises of your calf muscles thoroughout the day and before you go to bed.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day as well hydrated muscle will contract and relax well.
  • Wear supportive stockings
  • Sleep on your side, as sleeping on your back may compress the large vein reducing blood circulation.
  • Keep your legs warm at night. Maybe a warm bath before sleep will help.
  • Rest with your legs propped up

Will supplement such as magnesium or calcium prevent leg cramps?

There may some evidence that taking magnesium supplement could help some women with leg cramps. Even though taking enough calcium is important there is no good evidence to show that extra calcium would benefit. Do talk to your doctor before taking these supplements.
What simple calf stretch exercise I could do before going to sleep?
  • Stand about an arm’s length away from a wall and place your hands on the wall for support
  • Keep your left knee slightly and move your right foot a back or two keeping it flat on the floor.
  • Feel the stretch in your right calf as you lean forward. Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds then change to the other leg.

What could I do during an acute attack of leg cramps?

During a leg cramp, immediately stretch your calf muscles. Straighten your leg, heel first and gently flex your toes towards your shin. Initially, this may hurt but gradually the pain will go away. Relax the calf muscle by massaging it or put a hot water bottle on it. Do call your doctor if there is swelling on your calves especially on one side as it may be due to a blood clot. (deep venous thrombosis)


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