Most people have had a leg cramp at least once in their lives, and some may even wince at the thought of a charley horse. However, expecting moms should be aware that these painful, radiating muscle spasms may be commonplace during pregnancy and are typically nothing to worry about.
The good news is that this symptom usually does not occur during the first trimester. It tends to begin in the second trimester when your belly is just starting to protrude. As you continue to gain pregnancy weight, you may notice that leg cramps happen more frequently. While they can happen all throughout the day, they are most noticeable at night, and might even interfere with getting good quality sleep. Some moms-to-be might even report that it adds to their insomnia.
Keep your legs moving
If you're worried, there are some things you can do to prevent this unpleasant sensation. For instance, not sitting or standing with your legs crossed can help. Instead, whenever you can remember, try to focus on rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes while you sit, as this increases the circulation in your legs.
Another good prevention method is to stretch. Even if you take just five minutes every couple of hours to stretch your calves, you'll be less likely to experience a spasm. In fact, if you do experience a leg cramp, stretching the foot heel-first while flexing the toes back toward the shins can reduce the discomfort.
Also, if you have some time to spare, go for a walk! Besides preventing leg cramps, physical activity is great for you and can help you avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy. Just make sure that you wear proper-fitting footwear, especially if your feet have been a bit swollen - another common symptom of pregnancy.
Provide your body with its daily nutritional needs
Dehydration tends to have some sneaky side effects, and leg cramping is one of them. This is why you should try to drink as much water as you can throughout the day. Even if you sneak in a glass of juice in there, it can be beneficial.
In addition, it's important to faithfully take your prenatal vitamins as your doctor instructed you to. Some evidence suggests that magnesium and calcium deficiencies may make an expecting mom more likely to get leg cramps than pregnant women who have adequate levels of the nutrients.
If you experience a leg cramp and the pain persists, you should call your healthcare provider. Although it's rare, the pain that accompanies these spasms may be the sign of a more serious issue, such as a blood clot, in which case, you don't want to do anything that may make it bigger or allow it to travel.
Did you experience leg cramps during your pregnancy? What helped prevent and get rid of them? Let our readers know by leaving your answers in the comments section!