We have all suffered from it, the painful, stop everything, nothing else matters I’m having a LEG CRAMP, OWWWW! The pain is excruciating, and it takes 110% of your focus in that moment, but it feels like forever. Heck, I even have trouble breathing or catching my breath sometimes with the dreaded leg cramp! And when I was pregnant, they always happened in bed, at night, often waking me from sleep. Sleep is precious when you are pregnant, especially later in the game. According to the Mayo Clinic, they tend to strike at night, and happen more in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
Other sources talk of it being hereditary, or proof of a lack of minerals, circulation impacted by the pressure of the uterus on blood vessels. etc. As a mom, and a woman who lived thru leg cramps when pregnant, I don’t know the exact cause, but I do know they exist and being awakened in the night by a cramp is absolutely no fun at all.
Here are some quick tips that I used:
- A banana a day keeps the leg cramp away – potassium is one of those minerals mentioned above, I’ve also been told that Coconut Water is loaded with potassium, Google to get more info on this.
- Stretching calves before bed – I would stand at my bed and do simple standing calf stretches on each side, using the bed or the closed bedroom or closed door as support. Hold each side for 20 – 30 seconds.
- Drink your water – staying hydrated comes up a lot in the inquiries on pregnancy and leg cramps, you need to stay hydrated anyway, especially as we skip into summer. Drink water, and eat hydrating foods like: cucumber, watermelon, melon, jicama, stone fruit in general.
- Invest in supportive shoes – by mid-second trimester I invested in a pair of Berks and they took me through the rest of pregnancy. It was my best investment 2nd to my maternity bra. There are many options for supportive footwear, use Google and go for it.
- Walking – this goes with the foot wear, and with the stretching, staying active in a mild way seems to help women report reduced cramps
- Magnesium – I’ve always heard this, and there seems to be limited research supporting that magnesium can help, if you are going to step beyond increasing magnesium rich foods and search for a supplement, please consult with your medical professional first.
There is nothing worse than being awakened with a sharp leg cramp pain, and often what I did to get back to sleep was snuggle into my body pillow (another incredibly helpful pregnancy sleeping aid) and have my hubby tickle my back as I took long deep breathes.
What have you had success with to overcome your leg cramps and fall back into slumber?
Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW and Co-Founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month
***We are not doctors or medical providers here at PAM, just mom’s who have been pregnant and care about women and babies. In our aim to talk about all things pregnancy and parenting, we do not proclaim to give any medical advise. We ALWAYS encourage our readers to use common sense, and talk to your medical providers before starting any exercise or taking any supplements, to just maintain open conversations with your doctors and midwives about your health.