Cramps in feet and legs during pregnancy, can they be prevented?

Among the many and varied discomforts that pregnancy can cause, foot and leg cramps are very common and cause great discomfort, often when we are more relaxed, interrupting the restorative (and so necessary!) rest. Let’s see why cramps occur in pregnancy and how to prevent them .

Muscle cramps, also known as “ramps,” occur when a muscle involuntarily tightens or contracts, and does not relax, causing severe pain. Cramps can affect all or part of one or more muscles, and although they can occur in many places, the most common during pregnancy are in the feet, legs, and groin .

Foot and leg cramps during pregnancy are very bothersome and often occur when a muscle is overworked or injured. This can commonly happen if you exercise when you are not well hydrated, or when your body has low levels of minerals like potassium or calcium. These are all factors that make a person more likely to have a muscle spasm.

In addition, in the case of pregnant women, in the third trimester many factors combine to cause the mother to sleep poorly and accumulate tiredness, so that fatigue can favor the appearance of cramps. Precisely many cramps will come to interrupt sleep, which makes rest more difficult .

Weight gain can lead to muscle overload that presses on nerves, weakens muscles and promotes cramps. In addition, hormonal and blood circulation changes could also increase the risk of ramps. All this causes up to half of pregnant women to suffer from uncomfortable cramps or ramps , especially in the second and third trimesters.

Prevent (and calm) cramps in pregnancy

Muscle cramps can be stopped and relieved by stretching the affected muscle, an area that will feel hard or lumpy. It usually occurs in the toes (one or several), in the calf or calf or in the thigh.

  • Gently flex and straighten your foot to stretch the muscles . Use your hands if necessary, or stand up.
  • Perform the same exercise, sitting up, on the leg if it occurs in the calf area, bending the affected leg backwards with the foot on tiptoe so that the muscle is stretched.
  • Heat can come in handy at the beginning of the cramp to loosen up the muscles and improve circulation (apply a hot towel…). Later, once calm, it is recommended to apply cold (a towel in cold water can be used or to position ourselves so that the cold floor touches the muscle).
  • Once the ramp has calmed down, rest your foot on a cool surface. This is easier than bringing your calf or thigh to the ground if you’re in your third trimester, but if you’re comfortable and flexible and have good support to sit up or have help, you can do this too.
  • Gently massage the affected area.
  • Exercise regularly , so that the muscles are not lethargic.
  • But avoid excessive tiredness at the time of physical activity. It is not good to force the muscles or the heart.
  • Maintain proper hydration. Check out more interesting articles on our parenting site.
  • Include stretching and foot rotation in your daily exercises. You can also rotate your ankles and move your toes when you are sitting or lying down, resting, watching TV…
  • It is also a good idea to stretch your legs, bend them and do elevations.
  • Walking is a great exercise in any case, to improve circulation, muscle tone…
  • Wear suitable, firm, non-constricting and comfortable shoes.
  • Don’t wear tight pants that compress your legs.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables provide many minerals and dairy products provide calcium , which is important at this stage.
  • Consume foods rich in potassium : banana, legumes, nuts, avocado, potato…
  • Take the vitamin supplements recommended by the gynecologist.
  • After physical exercise and when you need it, practice relaxation at home .
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting, as this posture can restrict circulation.

We hope these tips will help you prevent foot and leg cramps during pregnancy . And remember that if they are very strong, do not go away with simple stretching, last a long time, or if you notice swelling, redness or tenderness in the leg, you should see a doctor.