Painful muscle spasms in arms or legs are not uncommon during pregnancy. The cramps begin all of the sudden and most frequently disturb a future mother during her rest time. What are the reasons for leg cramps during pregnancy and how to reduce the pain?
Pregnancy leg cramps: the causes
The cramps can torment an expectant mother because of various reasons. They are a symptom of possible disorders inside of your body, starting with the lack of vitamins and micronutrients in the organism and ending with the complications in the course of pregnancy. The main causes of leg cramps during pregnancy are:
- The lack of such micronutrients as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, which can be induced by:
- First of all, a hard case of toxicosis when the female body loses a lot of micronutrients with vomit (it usually happens in early pregnancy terms);
- Secondly, the raised needs of the developing fetus (especially in the middle of pregnancy);
- Thirdly, unreasonable intake of diuretics;
- And fourthly, an unbalanced diet when a pregnant woman doesn’t consume everything her body needs.
- Low hemoglobin content in blood (severe anemia);
- Blood sugar level disturbances which can occur because of improper nutrition when a future mother is eating a lot but only a couple times a day or has a sweet tooth;
- Varicose veins (especially if there’s too much strain on the legs);
- Drinking beverages that contain caffeine – it induces muscle dehydration and at the same time puts a strain on them which leads to the cramps in the end;
- The “inferior vena cava compression syndrome” when the enlarged uterus is pressing on the inferior vena cava and causes the blood outflow disturbance. In this case, pregnancy leg cramps begin, as a rule, during the third trimester when a woman is lying on her back or right side;
- Various diseases or pregnancy complications.
How to alleviate leg cramps during pregnancy?
If you experience a leg cramp experts recommend trying the following means:
- Slowly and carefully, but nonetheless strongly pull the toes of your cramping leg. Then, slowly as well, relax the muscles. Repeat.
- When the cramp subsides a bit, massage your muscle slightly, warming it. You can also use a hot water bottle or a warmer.
- You may pace the room a little to restore the blood flow in your legs.
- To avoid further cramps lie down with your legs propped up on a pillow or a folded blanket.
Leg cramps during pregnancy: preventive measures and treatment
Pregnancy leg cramps are only a sign of some disorder in the organism, so if you experience them often you should consult a health professional to find out what causes the painful spasms of muscles and treat the cramps.
If the cause of leg cramps during pregnancy lies in an unhealthy diet and therefore in the lack of vitamins and micronutrients the treatment will require you to reestablish healthy eating habits and add the necessary products to your diet. Sometimes doctors also prescribe multivitamins.
By the way, the diet of a pregnant woman should always include the following foods: cereals (buckwheat and oatmeal), bread and pasta from the whole wheat flour, dairy products, cheese, fish, lean meat, fruit and vegetables, and nuts (in small amounts). For your blood sugar levels to be normal you should eat frequently and in small portions.
In order not to trigger pregnancy leg cramps it’s also important to adhere to the following recommendations:
- Wear comfortable shoes with sustainable heels not higher than 2 inches;
- If you have varicose veins, wear specially designed tights and stockings (your doctor will gladly advise you which to choose);
- When you enter the third trimester of pregnancy try to lie on your left side or put a small pillow under your right buttock to avoid the “inferior vena cava syndrome”;
- Try not to overexert yourself and don’t put too much strain on your legs. If you have to stand for a long time, do exercises that help you to restore the blood circulation in your calves (for example, raise yourself on tiptoes and then get down on the whole foot a few times);
- Rest with your legs propped up;
- Take warm foot baths with sea salt to relax before going to bed.