Leg cramps, Charlie horses, restless legs–whatever you call it, pain in your legs during pregnancy is a common complaint. While the pain might keep you up all night or stop you in your steps, it is a great excuse for a little attention. Tell your partner how common and severe these cramps are and ask for a massage. If it can help you sleep, it is all for the baby.
Leg pain in pregnancy most often occurs at night, disrupting sleep schedules. It can happen any time during the day or night. The pain can range from a throbbing or tingling to an intense cramp or contraction in the muscle. It might cause an urge to move or shake your leg, or it might constrict the muscle, making it difficult to move.
As if swelling ankles, an enlarged stomach, engorged breasts and a baby kicking your ribs weren’t enough, the last two-thirds of your pregnancy might also bring leg pains to the equation. Although leg cramps from injuries or strain might occur anytime, the pain associated with pregnancy most often comes in the second and third trimester.
Various theories exist to explain leg pain and cramps during pregnancy. Exhaustion and stress on your legs from the additional weight might cause the cramping. Another theory is that the growing uterus and other organs push against the nerves which lead to the legs, leading to numbness, tingling or pain. The University of Maryland Medical Center maintains that a lack of calcium, phosphorus or potassium might be the cause.
When a cramp strikes, stretch out your leg and alternate flexing and pointing your toe. Pull your foot back in a flexed position to stretch the muscle. Ask your partner to push lightly on your foot if you can’t reach it. Ask your partner to give you a massage to relieve the tension in your leg. Go for a walk or light jog, outdoors or on a treadmill to strengthen the muscle as your torso increases in weight. Drink plenty of water each day. Eat dairy and vegetables to get your calcium, phosphorus and potassium.
If the pain becomes unbearable or if swelling or redness occurs, talk to your doctor. While most pregnancy leg pain is normal and safe, sometimes it is a sign of a blood clot, which can be potentially dangerous for both you and the baby.
- pregnant girl on meadow image by Pavel Losevsky from Fotolia.com