Pregnancy is kind of shady, isn’t it? Sure, it brings you joy and hope, but it also puts you through the wringer with a growing list of aches and pains that get harder to deal with by the day. If you were just expecting run-of-the-mill pregnancy issue like back pain and swollen feet, surprise, you can add annoying, painful leg cramps to the mix. Yes, they’re actually a thing, and if you’re suffering through them already, you should know
how to relieve pregnancy leg cramps.
It’s important to understand why you’re getting the leg cramps in the first place.
Dr. Mary O’Toole, an OB-GYN at MemorialCare Saddleback Center in Laguna Hills, California tells Romper in an interview that sometimes your growing baby and uterus can put pressure on your nerves and muscles, which could cause pain in your legs. The pressure of your baby can also affect blood circulation in your legs, noted Today’s Parent, and things like fatigue, dehydration, and mineral deficiencies can also contribute to leg cramps during pregnancy.
Luckily, pregnancy only lasts so long and soon the pains associated with it should subside. Until then, there are a few things you can try to help alleviate and prevent those awful leg cramps. But before using any kind of remedy or treatment on your own, it’s crucial to ask your doctor first. Depending on your specific condition and situation, your doctor can recommend a treatment strategy that is right for you.
The American Pregnancy Association (APA) noted that
almost half of pregnant women suffer from muscle cramps, and most of those spasms occur in the calves and at night. One factor that could be causing these leg cramps is dehydration, so it’s important for pregnant women to drink lots of fluids or water to maintain good hydration.
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind, but it actually may help in relieving and preventing leg cramps. O’Toole suggested that in order to eliminate pain and discomfort, otherwise healthy pregnant women should maintain regular exercise.
Keeping yourself active, whether it’s with short walks or some light cardio, can keep your blood flowing and your muscles healthy.
Dr. Yen Tran, an OB-GYN with MemorialCare Medical Group in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper that you can even try some gentle and slow dancing for exercise because it can help with stiff joints and at the same time allow blood flow to circulate well in the body.
If you’re calmly minding your own business and then are suddenly hit with a painful muscle spasm in your leg,
the best thing to do is stretch, explained Today’s Parent. Rather than pointing your toes downward (which can make the cramping worse), the article suggested pushing your heel down on the floor while you point your toes upward to stretch out your calf muscles. If you feel unbalanced, make sure to find something or someone to hold onto for support.
Massage With Ice Or Heat
If you’re in the midst of a leg cramp, the APA suggested first
massaging the cramped muscle and its surrounding area, then applying either a heating pad or ice pack to help relieve the pain more efficiently. It may not be easy to do yourself, especially if your belly is in the way, so ask your partner or a family member to help if they can.
Take Your Prenatal Vitamins
A lack of minerals could be causing your leg muscle to cramp, so you might need make sure your vitamin game is on point. The APA explained that if you are
lacking in potassium, calcium, or magnesium, you may experience mild muscle cramps, so make sure to take a prenatal vitamin that contains those essential minerals everyday. Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload , where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.