Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Knowing you’re carrying a blessing within you is the greatest of the pregnancy joys but how over the moon you may be with this news, it comes with its fair share of discomforts. Out of the many, “leg cramps”, oops, it should be, the “painful leg cramps” can make you yell like anything! During my pregnancies, my poor husband had the “pleasure” of being woken up from a deep sleep to the sound of me yelling repeatedly because of the night cramps. :P
While these painful muscle spasms can occur at any time of the day, they often occur at night when lying in bed. It is not known the exact reason as to why leg cramps occur in pregnancy. It is suspected that the expanding uterus may put pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the leg subsequently causing leg cramps and pain. No one really knows why pregnant women get more leg cramps. Leg cramps may start to plague you during your second trimester and may get worse as your pregnancy progresses and your belly gets bigger.
However there is hope. There are things you can do to decrease the frequency of muscle cramps. Start making some changes – your legs and your partner will thank you. ;) Some of these things are:
1. Stay hydrated: Too little water is responsible for many of the discomforts of pregnancy, including constipation, acidity, morning sickness and leg cramps. A minimum of two litres of water per day is needed for proper hydration in pregnancy. (don’t forget how important it is than ever to drink clean water during pregnancy, and trust me when I say this, just boiling the water is not enough. I would suggest an advanced water purification system to be safe). You’ll probably want to avoid drinking right before bed to avoid having too many night time trips to the bathroom.
2. Diet: Many sources recommend extra calcium, potassium and/or magnesium to prevent leg cramps. Including foods that are rich in potassium such as green leafy vegetables and foods rich in calcium such as milk, cheese, and yogurt may give added protection against leg cramps. Liquid chlorophyll is high in magnesium and potassium. It is a good blood builder (good for postpartum) and helps a woman to function while sleep-deprived. Banana reduces fluid retention, promotes sleep and is high in potassium, reducing leg cramps. Eat one before bed to reduce midnight hunger pains and make drifting off easier. Other potassium rich fruits include oranges, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.
3. Multivitamin Intake: Take a good multivitamin daily. Deficiency in any of several minerals can increase the likelihood of muscle cramping.
4. Epsom Bath: Epsom salt is made up of naturally occurring minerals magnesium and sulphate. Both doctors and researchers say that soaking in an Epsom salt bath is a safe, easy way to increase the body’s levels of both magnesium and sulphate. Take an Epsom salt bath at bedtime. The added bonus is that an Epsom salt bath is a great way to promote relaxation as well.
5. Avoid Phosphorous: Avoid foods that contain phosphorous as excess phosphorous tends to decrease the rate at which calcium and other beneficial minerals are absorbed by the body.
6. Avoid getting too tired: Avoid standing continuously for a longer period of time. Lie down on your left side to improve circulation to and from your legs.
7. Move around: Avoid sitting in one place for long or with your legs crossed for longer periods of time. Rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes when sitting, at work, at dinner, or watching TV.
8. Stretch: Stretching your calf muscles several times before you go to bed could help prevent night cramps completely. Stretching regularly, getting adequate rest, and regular exercise help prevent leg cramps.
9. Walk: Maintain a daily walk routine.
10. Leg Cramps Cure: As soon as you feel a leg cramp coming on, Stand on a cold surface as soon as a cramp starts, straighten your leg and flex your foot (stretching your toes back toward your shin). A Gently massage may help the muscle to relax and relieve the pain.
Wishing you the healthiest of the pregnancy you can have :)