Leg cramps usually occur during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
Although they can occur any time during the day, they are more prominent when you go to bed at night. They can last for any length of time. A single muscle or a group of muscles in the leg contract during leg cramps. Leg cramps are also called foot cramps.
Some reasons why leg cramps occur during pregnancy are:
The expanding uterus exerts more pressure on blood vessels that carry blood from your legs to your heart and also from nerves going towards your legs.
Legs feel tired carrying the extra weight that you put on when you are pregnant.
Fluid gets accumulated in the legs.
Certain studies show that leg cramps can also be due to calcium deficiency in your diet. Consult your doctor to find out if you need to take any supplements.
Some symptoms of leg cramps include the following:
Intense leg pain
Inability to move the leg
You can try the following tips to prevent leg cramps:
Eat a lot of calcium enriched food.
Walk for about half an hour every day. This strengthens your legs and enhances the blood circulation. However, make sure that your doctor has no objection to your exercising this way during pregnancy.
Stretch your calf and leg muscles as many times as you can in a day and before going to bed.
Drink a lot of water often. You may want to reduce the intake of water at night to avoid frequent bathroom trips. Compensate for it during the day.
Avoid tight fitting clothes that restrict blood flow to and from legs.
Move your ankles and toes often even when you are seated.
Keep your legs elevated when you are resting.
Sleep on your left side to increase the blood circulation.
Take a warm water bath to soothe the calf and leg muscles.
Massage the affected area of the leg.
Stretch your legs as far as possible. Rest your feet on your heels. Stroke the legs gently to help the muscles relax. Magnesium supplements have been shown to be helpful for some women.