Pregnancy does not just bring us joy; to some of us it also brings a good deal of pain. However, if we exclude varicose veins, most of these unpleasant situations are short term and end with childbirth.
One of these situations is leg cramps. The worst thing about these mainly nocturnal leg cramp attacks is that they are extremely painful. It will wake most expectant mothers up from sleep, and it usually begins to appear in the second quarter of pregnancy.
Leg cramps are common during pregnancy, but still there are no final answers to why they occur. Some explanations are:
Dehydration: Some pregnant women, especially those that ‘cutback’ intake of water and other liquids to reduce the frequency of going to the toilet, can become dehydrated, which can lead to problems with muscles.
Vitamins: Certain vitamin deficiency, such as magnesium, potassium or vitamin D, can be one of the causes.
Weight gain: During pregnancy, you can quite suddenly gain extra weight, causing tremendous pressure on the leg muscles, which can also lead to pain.
Lack of exercise: We keep our muscles flexible by exercising. If we don’t use the muscles often enough, we can suffer from muscle cramps and pain.
How to help yourself?
There are many ways to ease the leg cramps. Some may not be suitable for all, depending on their medical condition. Talk this out with your gynecologist if you are worried.
Leg cramps prevention during pregnancy includes:
- Daily walks, unless you are not allowed
- Avoid long periods of sitting or standing
- Avoid sitting with crossed legs
- Stretch your legs. Practice rotating them and moving your toes.
- Drink lots of water!
- A warm bath before bed relaxes muscles
- If possible, have someone massage your feet before bedtime
- Avoid lying on your back. Pressure of enlarged uterus on major blood vessels slows down circulation in your legs, which directly causes muscles cramps.
The best thing you can do when you get a leg cramp is to stretch the leg. This will mostly help when leg cramps appear at night. Move your fingers and stretch your calves. Initially it will hurt, but the pain will start to ease up slowly. By doing so you will overcome the pain easier rather than just wait until it passes by itself.
Leg cramps are more often to occur in the last months of pregnancy. To relieve leg spasms you can prepare a salt bath in which you add 5 drops of geranium, 10 drops of lavender and 2 drops of cypress or you can massage your feet with oil in which you have added a few drops of essential oil of pepper ginger.
If you are constantly suffering from very painful leg muscle cramps, see your doctor to make sure it is not something serious. One of the reasons for leg cramps during pregnancy may be a leg clot. This is a very serious condition that can lead to death if not treated on time.