Leg cramps during pregnancy are one of the most painful experiences all expectant mothers undergo. This is most common during the later stages of pregnancy when many moms-to-be explore home remedies for leg cramps during pregnancy. Though it appears early in the first trimester as well, its significance is more during the second and third trimesters.
During leg cramps, you will feel sudden muscle spasms, especially in the calf region. This could last from a minimum of 10 seconds to even a few minutes which could also be felt in thighs, buttocks, and feet at times and could be painful. This pain is experienced more during the night especially during the second and third trimesters when you barely doze off.
Let us see in detail about leg pain during pregnancy in the first trimester, remedies for leg pain during pregnancy, and what to do for leg cramps while pregnant.
What Causes Leg Cramps During Pregnancy?
No one knows the exact reason why women experience leg cramps during pregnancy. All they want is to get the best thing for leg cramps during pregnancy. Many women experience this during the second and third trimesters, especially during the night. This could be because of the changes in hormonal and blood circulation and the pregnancy stress which many expectant moms undergo. Also, the extra weight on your leg muscles could be a factor.
Related Reading: Being Overweight During Pregnancy- 10 Potential Complications
The extra weight put on by the baby adds pressure to your nerves, blood vessels, and muscles which could trigger pain in the leg region. Though cramps usually disappear within minutes, doctors also suspect low calcium/magnesium to be one of the reasons for it. Knowing what to do when you get a cramp and how to prevent cramps from occurring is one way to deal with it.
Listed below are a few causes of leg cramps during pregnancy.
1. Blood circulation changes
During pregnancy due to changes in hormones, the blood circulation slows down. However, during the later stages, there is an increase in blood volume that slows down circulation leading to swelling and leg cramps. Therefore, many moms experience leg cramps during pregnancy in the third trimester.
2. Dehydration can lead to leg cramps during pregnancy
Dehydration is one symptom that could worsen leg cramps during pregnancy. Drinking about 8-12 glasses of water every day is one of the many ways to stay well hydrated during pregnancy. A count less than this could make the pain worse. In case you are drinking less water than this, try to uptake your water consumption.
3. Fatigue is a reason of leg cramps during pregnancy
It is common to feel tired during pregnancy because of the little human developing inside you. Also, sleepless nights could make you fatigued and your muscles weaken. This can be more visible during the second and third trimesters when you gain a healthy weight. That’s when the muscles get fatigued and lead to leg cramps.
Related Reading: 12 Simple Ways to Prevent Pregnancy Nausea
4. Calcium or Magnesium deficiency
According to a survey, pregnant women who took calcium and magnesium supplements did not have much impact because of leg cramps. Hence, it is advised to check with your doctor and get a lab test done to see if there is any deficiency.
7 Home Remedies For Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Sleep deprivation during pregnancy is a known factor. After a long and tiring day with your growing belly, when you are about to doze for a few minutes, you get a sharp pain in your calf that jolts you wide awake. Though it is one of the most common complaints by many pregnant women, the reason behind it is still unknown. That is why many pregnant women choose home remedies for leg cramps during pregnancy over medications just like for abdominal pain during pregnancy.
Waking up from a sudden painful muscle spasm is not pleasant. Though leg cramps are nothing serious to worry about, they could be more bothersome because of the pain you experience out of them. Right from the symptom of leg pain in pregnancy first trimester, this is expected to appear anytime during pregnancy.
Listed below are a few home remedies that you can do to avoid or prevent those painful leg cramps.
1. Take your prenatal vitamins every day
Prenatal vitamins are crucial during pregnancy. If you want the easiest of home remedies for leg cramps during pregnancy, we suggest this. Prevention is always better than cure. Hence, it is advised to take your tablets regularly as a deficiency in vitamins or essential minerals could also lead to leg cramps.
Related Reading: Top 10 Calcium Rich Foods For Pregnancy
2. Stretching before bed – trusted home remedy for leg cramps during pregnancy
Performing a calf stretch before you get onto the bed is one good home remedy for leg cramps during pregnancy. It helps to prevent or ease the pain you experience during leg cramps.
- Stand facing a wall at an arm’s distance and place your hands on the wall
- Keep your heels on the floor throughout by stepping your right foot back
- Now bend your left knee while keeping your right leg straight. Keep your left knee bent so you stretch your right calf muscle
- Hold up to 30 seconds and switch legs, if needed
3. Staying hydrated
Drinking plenty of water during pregnancy is important as dehydration is also one of the reasons for leg cramps. Try to drink at least 8-12 glasses of water every day to prevent leg cramps from occurring. Can’t be simpler than this right?
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Beat Dehydration During Pregnancy
4. Applying heat- relieving home remedy for leg cramps during pregnancy
Leg cramps usually occur with a sudden pain in the calves. An easy home remedy for leg cramps during pregnancy is to try applying heat around muscle spasms. Heat may help to loosen up the spasm which could give relief.
There is nothing fancy or extra you must purchase for this. A simple microwave-safe cloth bag or a sock filled with rice can be used to give those gentle massages. Warm showers and baths, especially before bed, also work.
5. Exercise- easiest home remedies for leg cramps during pregnancy
Even though some women don’t want to stay active during the whole pregnancy, staying active is expected to give you a lot of benefits. You can do safe prenatal exercises, go for a walk, or even swim — after consulting your doctor. All these are good for you and the baby to be born.
Safe exercises during pregnancy prevent excess weight gain and improves circulation and prevents leg cramps. Always stretch your muscle as a warm-up before and after exercise to prevent your legs from cramping.
6. Avoid inactivity
Many expecting moms love to stay cozy under the bed sheet or even sit idle for long hours instead of staying active. While those extra pounds gained are one most common reason for no movement among expectant mothers, it is advised to move a bit by standing up or better if you reap the benefits of walking during pregnancy.
Sitting in a place for hours together without any movement can lead to muscle pain and leg cramps. To avoid this, set up a reminder and move around. While watching TV or reading a book, rotate your ankles.
Posture is important during pregnancy. Many women are unaware of how to sit and what posture to follow during pregnancy. Sitting with legs crossed for a long time can be a reason for leg cramps. Also, never flex your toes facing downwards while sleeping. Try to take a warm bath to relax your muscles before going to bed.
Also, sleeping on your left side improves the circulation flow to the legs leading to fewer cramps.
When To See A Doctor For Leg Cramps During Pregnancy?
Moms-to-be undergo a lot of physical sensations like morning sickness during pregnancy, a change in taste, loss of appetite, the baby’s kick and so on. The most painful of all is the leg cramps for which many women depend upon remedies for leg pain during pregnancy and wonder what to take for leg cramps while pregnant.
These leg cramps peak up at night due to fatigue and fluid accumulation which becomes unbearable and hard to tolerate. Leg cramps during pregnancy are common and are nothing to worry about as they are muscle contractions in the legs or feet.
However, we recommend you visit the doctor in case you experience any of the below.
- The constant throb in one leg
- Leg swelling
- Redness in your leg
- A leg that’s warm to the touch
Pregnancy is filled with pains and aches and leg cramps during pregnancy are no exception. They can make you stop whatever you are doing or could even wake you up from sleep. Treatment and prevention are important in the management of leg cramps and that’s where our mentioned home remedies for leg cramps during pregnancy come as a rescue.
While leg cramps can be painful, most of them are not harmful. If the mentioned remedies such as stretching, staying hydrated, and exercising do not reduce the intensity or frequency of leg cramps, we request you to contact your doctor for further assistance.