8 Effective Ways to Combat Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Leg cramps often strike during pregnancy, especially when you’re lying down. Next to back aches and pelvic discomfort, this is probably the most common type of chronic pain experienced in mid to late pregnancy. While researchers are still confused about the cause of these leg cramps, it may be that your leg muscles are tired due to your increased weight or that certain blood vessels and nerves are under too much pressure. If you’re struggling with leg cramps that are undermining your quality of life or making it difficult to sleep, try these eight strategies. However, remember that any cramp that doesn’t go away should be reported to your doctor, just in case you’ve developed a blood clot.
- Don’t cross your legs
Sit and stand with your legs straight rather than crossed, and you may see a difference in both the frequency and intensity of your cramps.
No matter what type of exercise you enjoy (or feel able to do) during your pregnancy, regularly incorporating it into your days is proven to reduce leg cramps. Even a daily walk can make a difference. As always, if you want to start a new type of exercise, speak to your healthcare team first in order to discuss any safety concerns.
- Raise your feet
To avoid cramps at night, try resting your feet on a pillow that’s 3-5 inches off your mattress. You may also find that propping your feet up on a pillow helps to reduce pain when you’re on the sofa as well.
- Take magnesium supplements
Some studies suggest that magnesium supplements reduce leg cramping, but there is mixed evidence on this score. If you’d like to try taking magnesium, speak to your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you to add these supplements to your regimen.
- Stretch your calf muscles
Make a habit of stretching your calves at regular intervals every day, with a special emphasis on a longer set of stretches just before bed (as most women get their worst leg cramps during the night). Stand with your hands against a wall, place your right foot behind your left foot, then bend the left leg forward for a stretch of up to 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
- Stand on a cold surface
Some women find their cramps cease if they stand on cold tiles, which seems to stop spasms.
- Drink more water
Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, so it stands to reason that staying hydrated can help you avoid leg pain. Your urine can tell you if you need to drink more water–if it’s pale yellow or clear, you’re sufficiently hydrated, but anything darker is a sign that you’re moving toward dehydration.
- Have a warm bath
A warm bath (especially before bed) can both relieve and prevent leg cramps. However, make sure the water isn’t too hot, as high temperatures can pose a risk to your developing baby.
Have you ever suffered from leg cramps during pregnancy? What’s the most powerful treatment you’ve tried?