How to help with leg cramps during pregnancy

How to help with leg cramps during pregnancy

Leg cramps during pregnancy are the worst! 

Believe me I know.  I experienced them frequently during my second and third trimester.  They would wake me from a dead sleep a few times a week.   I then had to wake my husband to help me stretch them out.  They were miserable!!!   They are super common during pregnancies, and often go away after you deliver.  Mine did.   There are some things you can do to try to prevent leg cramps, and I am going to talk about that below.  I will also go over what to do when you are having them.

First of all, drink lots of water.  I know I must sound like a broken record with how often I say to drink lots of water,  but that doesn’t make it any less true.   Leg cramps are often caused be dehydration.  Make sure to avoid caffeinated drinks before bed.    These are diuretics.  This means they make you pee more often which can make you even more dehydrated.

Make sure to stay well hydrated.  

Stretch before bedtime.  Most women get leg cramps in their calves or in their feet     Doing gentle stretching before hopping into bed can help prevent  them during those  nighttime hours.   Here’s some examples of stretching you can do.

Stretch toes back while flexing your foot. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, about 2 feet from the wall.  While keeping you legs straight,  lean forward and rest your hands on the wall in front of you. Keep one heel flat on the ground and gently bend one knee at a time until you feel a stretch in your calf.

leg cramps during pregancy
Stretching out your calves before bedtime can help prevent nighttime leg cramps.

leg cramps during pregancy

Another way to stretch your calves is to use a stair with a railing.   Step up onto one stair.  Be sure to be somewhere where you can hold on to something to help you keep your balance.    Let your heals hang over the edge of the stair and gently lower your heels below the level of the stair.  You should feel a stretch in the calf.

leg cramps during pregnancy
Stretching out your calves before bedtime can help prevent nighttime leg cramps.

 

 

Take a warm back before bed.   Warm heat helps to relax those muscles helping you to get a better night’s rest.   Better yet, do the stretching exercises after your warm bath.

Avoid pointing your toes.   Sometimes when stretch in the middle of the night, pointing your toes can make a cramp begin, both in your foot and your calf.

 

If you do get a leg cramp,  the best way to get rid of it fast is to  extend the muscle that is cramping.  For example.  iF your calf is cramping and you have someone there to help you, have them help you straight your knee and then gently flex  your foot .  This will help lengthen your calf muscle.  leg cramps during pregnancy

If you are by yourself, avoid bending your knee to try to flex your foot,  bending your knee might make the cramp worse.   Instead, try keeping a stretching elastic band by your bed that you can easily grab, wrap over your toes, straighten your knee, and gently pull your toes towards you.

leg cramps during pregnancy
An exercise band can help if you are alone.

leg cramps during pregnancy

Leg cramps can be so painful, but usually easy to fix if you know what to do.  The faster you stretch out the cramp, the less painful it might be.   If I let a cramp go too long, my calves can be sore for days, so I try to get rid of them as soon as they start.

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