Leg cramping during pregnancy is quite commonly experienced, and it is normal and harmless.
However, it is something that can be painful and inconvenient; it may even disturb sleep and interrupt times of rest. So it is important that leg cramping during pregnancy is dealt with for relief from pain and disturbance.
As every woman is different so every pregnancy is different, and while many may suffer excruciating cramping in the legs during pregnancy; others have none at all.
The cramping may be in the lower legs, or higher up in the thighs. The kind of cramping and the degree of pain experienced may also differ greatly.
So why does leg cramping during pregnancy happen? This is a common occurrence that happens as the body’s circulatory and metabolic systems undergo several changes.
In particular, the way that certain nutrients such as calcium and potassium are metabolized changes and this is thought to contribute to leg cramping during pregnancy.
Also insufficient hydration (when pregnant one should be drinking more water than before) could be one of the causes.
It could also be that the legs cramp from having to bear the extra pregnancy weight that a woman inevitably puts on during her pregnancy. Also the expanding uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels further causing discomfort.
What is Restless Legs Syndrome? While some women experience pain, others experience for the first time in their lives a condition called Restless Legs Syndrome when they are pregnant. This is characterized by a discomfort in the legs; an oddly squirmy and uncomfortable sensation that is not painful but difficult to fully describe.
It causes the one to keep moving the legs in order to get a little relief and feel somewhat more comfortable. RLS can be very disruptive; particularly a good night’s sleep may well be disturbed.
Should I worry? Usually leg cramping during pregnancy is nothing to worry about; however if there is swelling and tenderness in the legs, it is advisable to call a doctor immediately. This could be a blood clot which will require immediate attention.
Leg cramping during pregnancy could be alleviated by the following:
- A few simple stretching and ankle rotating exercises several times a day could help. Also be as active as possible in order that your circulation is in good shape. Unless there is a medical reason not to do so, take regular exercise in the form of walks etc.
- Long periods of standing or crossing one’s legs for long periods can also cause stress leading to cramps. Avoid that whenever possible.
- Eat bananas. They are a good source of potassium and are easy to digest and good for you.
- Consider taking a calcium supplement after consulting your doctor about it. A magnesium or vitamin supplement may also be indicated.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use relaxation techniques like meditation.
- Take a warm bath to relax your muscles and soothe yourself so that you are able to get a better night’s sleep.
- Avoid getting over tired.
- Lay down on your left side, this improves circulation.