Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is just packed full of lovely little treats. A lot of them are horrible, uncomfortable, and annoying. One of the major offenders during my pregnancies is leg cramps.
Along with the beauty that is growing a human inside you, comes the ugly reality that is leg cramps. Waking up in the middle of the night with a searing pain in your calf and the inability to relax your foot is just about the worst nightmare you can imagine. That, coupled with the ever-present ache in your thighs that make it so you can't get comfortable, is a match made in hell. Yes, even worse than those weird pregnancy nightmares you've been having.
I know the pain, mama. So if any of my mamas out there are interested in keeping these beasts at bay, not only to cut out the pain, but to maybe get a little sleep, here is a little info on what and why leg cramps are happening, and how to keep them under control.
Why is this happening to me?Well that's a fair question. Unfortunately, life isn't fair. Experts don't know for sure why pregnancy causes an increase in leg cramps, but it could be a combination of different things that are happening to your body during pregnancy. Due to all those friendly little hormones, your uterus is expanding and your circulation is changing. Your blood vessels are expanding as well, which can cause a tightening of your muscles leading to cramps. And, of course, the cramps could be caused by the fact that you're toting around some extra *ahem* weight in the form of a giant tummy which puts some extra pressure on your legs leading to aches and cramps and overall misery.
What can I do to keep from getting leg cramps?
There's a couple things that you can do once you're getting cramps and you don't want to have them anymore. Like ever. There are some mamas out there who say that taking magnesium, iron, or calcium supplements have helped to decrease the frequency of their leg cramps. You can also try your best to get some exercise. I know, I know. I'm not the biggest fan either. But getting your muscles working during the day can really help them to settle down at night, which is when you're most likely to experience muscle cramps. You also need to drink water, drink water, and drink more water.
Staying hydrated is one of the easiest (and most important) ways to keep from getting leg cramps. Your body needs it. You need it. Your mailman needs it. We all need it. So drink that water, mama. Also sitting or standing for too long can also cause some build up of lactic acid in your leg muscles which can lead to getting more cramps. Do your best to stretch those stems during the day. If you're working at your desk, stand up and try and touch your toes every once in a while. If you're on your feet all day, first of all, I am sorry. But do your best to have a seat and take a load off, mama. You can also try a warm bath before bed to relax your muscles before getting some sleep.
So what can you do once you have a cramp?
Well, after all your careful planning, you have a leg cramp and you want to die. The only thing you can do at this point is wait it out. Try your best to get your breathing under control and stretch it out. Pull your toes back and cry through the pain. It will pass, I promise.
You can also try to use a heating pad/blanket to keep those muscles relaxed, or ask your hub to rub your legs for you in exchange for an eventual beautiful human being. If you feel like you're doing everything right, and you're still getting cramps several times a week, you should bring it up to your doctor, because it could be an indication of a blood clot. Not likely, but possible. And definitely better to be safe than sorry!