It’s 4 a.m. and I feel an intense pain – full of weight – crawling up my right leg. Oh no….not again…
If this scene sounds familiar, then you’ve encountered one of pregnancy’s worst enemy – leg cramps.
Leg cramps are a result of involuntary muscle contractions that leads to muscle knots. They mostly happen in your calves; however, may occur in the thighs or feet and can last from a few seconds up to a few minutes. It is common among pregnant women to experience leg cramps overnight and leg cramps are known for sneaking its way in when you’re most vulnerable and exhausted.
The bad thing about it is that leg cramps occur more often in pregnancy. The good thing about it is that they are temporary and usually goes away after giving birth. Learn how to ease leg cramps using these methods below.
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6 Ways to Relieve Leg Cramps
- While standing, place weight on the affected leg and slightly bend your knee.
- Sit or lie down with your leg straight out and slowly move the top of your foot towards you so that it stretches your calf muscles.
- Massage the affected area until the muscles loosen up.
- Apply warm or cold compress to the affected area.
- Take a warm bath to loosen tight muscles.
- Stand facing a wall, arms straight out and palms against the wall. Slowly bend one of your legs forward and the affected leg behind you with a straight leg. Slightly lean your body forward so that it stretches the calf muscles on the affected leg.
Unfortunately, there is no real known cause as to why leg cramps occur more often in pregnancy but medical professionals have mentioned possible sources that leads to muscle cramps:
- Lack of Electrolytes
- Low blood circulation
- Emotional and Physical Stress
- Mineral Deficiency – Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium
- Pressure from your baby that might be placed on your nerves and blood vessels
By understanding the several possible causes of leg cramps, you can take preventative measures to avoid the next leg cramp in pregnancy.
How to Prevent Leg Cramps
Drink lots of water. As mentioned above, dehydration is one possible cause of leg cramps in pregnancy. When your body has low water levels, your muscles can function improperly and cause involuntary muscle contractions. Not only does water help you prevent leg cramps, it can also help in the development of your baby. Staying hydrated is important and keeping a water bottle with you at all times is a great habit to adopt.
Stretch frequently. One natural and effective way to prevent leg cramps is to stretch frequently. Stretching can relieve stress and tension on your muscles for a better pregnancy. Make sure you try these pregnancy-safe stretches to avoid any future complications for baby.
Drink a Gatorade or Powerade. A lack of electrolytes can cause leg cramps. Gatorade or Powerade is known as an athlete’s drink with sodium, potassium, and chloride, which can help replenish electrolytes.
Eat a banana. You might have heard that eating a banana can help with leg cramps, and if you’re like me, you’d eat it more often to help avoid leg cramps. Although there is no real evidence that a banana can help reduce muscle knots, it is known as a natural source of potassium. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one medium banana contains an average of 450 mg of potassium. A regular diet for pregnant women should have a daily intake of 4,700 mg of potassium. If your food diet is lacking potassium or appears less than the requirement of 4,700 mg, then eating a banana may help balance your mineral levels.
Eat plain yogurt. Another great food source to balance your mineral levels is plain yogurt. It adds potassium, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and other necessary nutrients to your diet, which are all nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.
Rest often. Your body is operating for two and it takes a lot of energy to nurture a baby (or two!) inside of you. Make sure you rest often so that your body can recover from physical and emotional stress.
When I was 7-months pregnant, I remember the second time I experienced leg cramps. It was the most memorable night for two reasons: my leg cramps lasted longer than 5 minutes and it occurred in BOTH of my legs.
The first pain occurred in my right leg, which woke me up from a deep sleep that I would have loved to go back into. Soon after my leg cramp subsided, the left leg started acting up! These muscle contractions were not giving this Mama a break. Thank goodness my husband was there to massage my calves until the pain disappeared; however, it was the worst experience I’ve had.
How was your experience, Mama? Comment BELOW and share with us!
Oh, and one more thing.
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