Discomforts of Pregnancy: Leg Cramps

It is not uncommon to experience leg cramps during pregnancy, particularly later in your pregnancy. According to Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, almost half of all pregnant women suffer from muscle spasms in their legs...

It is not uncommon to experience leg cramps during pregnancy, particularly later in your pregnancy. According to Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, almost half of all pregnant women suffer from muscle spasms in their legs, cramps tending to be more frequent during the evening.

What causes leg cramps during pregnancy?

Leg cramps may be caused by the additional weight gain of pregnancy, changes in your circulation, or a deficiency in your calcium intake. Calcium is used to support your bones and muscles along with the developing baby. There is an increased need for calcium during pregnancy, so if you are not digesting enough calcium for you and the baby, you may be experiencing a calcium deficiency.

Pressure from the growing baby may also be placed on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. This pressure or pinching may be the cause of your leg cramps.

What can you do to treat leg cramps during pregnancy?

There are a few things that you can do to treat leg cramps or prevent them from occurring. Try one or more of the following interventions to help relieve or prevent your leg cramps:

  • Exercise regularly; include stretches that target your legs
  • Rest with your legs elevated
  • Wear supportive stockings
  • During a leg cramp, raise your toes towards you and have someone massage your muscles
  • Dissolve four tablets of Magnesia Phosphorica 6X in a small glass of warm water
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may prove helpful in relieving the pain of leg cramps (do not take aspirin or ibuprofen)

Contact your healthcare provider if your leg cramps are severe or remain consistent. Your physician may prescribe additional supplements or medication.

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association.