Hands up who has suffered cramp?
This is an often incredibly painful and annoying condition, and cramp during pregnancy is very common. It tends to start during the second trimester and can affect the buttocks, thighs, calf’s and feet.
Cramp attacks tend to occur without warning and usually during periods of rest/sleep or first thing in the morning.
The cause of cramps during pregnancy is unknown, but it is thought that it is either by the increased weight from the pregnancy causing the muscles to fatigue, thereby causing spasms and pain or the expanding uterus putting pressure on the nerves and the blood vessels that return blood from your lower body.
It is also a theory that calcium deficiency and electrolyte imbalance can be a factor of cramp, but there has been no proven science that this is the case.
So to be on the safe side make sure you eat a balanced diet including lots of whole grains and leafy vegetables to make sure you are not deficient.
Also, avoid carbonated drinks as this may interfere with the absorption of electrolytes.
How to Prevent Leg Cramps
- Massage is extremely beneficial for relaxing and reducing the tension in muscles that cause spasms and increases the circulation to tired muscles
- Avoid standing and sitting for long periods of time as this causes pooling of the blood in the vessels in the calf’s
- Gentle stretches taught at pregnancy yoga can be very beneficial, especially prior to bed
- Calf stretches prior to bed to stretch out your muscles
- Support stockings during the day may be helpful for some
What to do if I get Cramp?
When a cramp attack arrives, gently raise your toes up towards you to stretch your calf muscle, or you can do this by using a towel behind your toes and gently stretch towards you and this should relieve the cramp, the pain may increase, but then should ease off.
After the pain has gone, gently massage the area to relax and soothe the muscle.
Seek Further Advice
If the pain does not relieve itself or if you get swelling, heat or redness in the area, please see your G.P. or Midwife immediately to rule out other underlying clotting problems.