Welcome in the third trimester and welcome in the ‘leg cramps’!! For some it may have started in the mid of second trimester and for some really lucky ones – they may not ever start. But for most of us – it is the third trimester that prepares us in a very painful, unnecessary and unpleasant way to understand what it will feel when we will be hit with the real cramps during the labour pains. (I am not sure if this is really how it is – I am just relating the two – to make them sound more meaningful and easier than they are!)
No one has really been able to decode the real reason why pregnant women have leg cramps – because some do and some don’t – and there is no concrete co-relation in any of their actions or symptoms or nutritional supplements ever established. But leg cramps are quite a common phenomenon that usually strike the pregnant ladies in the middle of the night – shooting pain in the calf muscles accompanied by random pulls and stretches, causing a lot of discomfort!
Here is a list of theories that float around guessing the reason why they occur-
– Some odd pressure on the blood vessels carrying blood in and out of the legs due to the increased size and weight of the uterus leading to inadequate blood supply in the legs
– Insufficient intake of calcium or magnesium
– Insufficient intake of water during the day
– Increased tiredness creating fatigue and tension in the muscles
And as I say – these are mere theories – nothing concrete has ever been established. So there are no real remedies as well! Somethings seem to work on a few days for a few women and the same things have never worked for a lot of others.
Here is a compilation of all those remedies that could work for you (certainly no harm in trying!)-
– First and foremost – stay hydrated during the day.
– Try going for short walks (unless your doctor has advised otherwise)
– Sleep on your left side to improve circulation
– Rotate your ankles and keep moving your toes when sitting idol to stimulate regular blood circulation
– A warm water bath to relax the muscles just before hitting the bed
– Add yogurt (calcium powerdose) and bananas (magnesium powerdose) to your diet
– Soothing oil massage to relax the muscles before you go to sleep
– Some stretching of the muscles while lying in the bed
And here is a list of things to avoid during the day –
– Standing for a long duration
– Sitting cross-legged for a long duration
– Too much caffeine in the night
What to do when they occur?
Typically they occur in the middle of the night – and there is nothing much you can do about it. Just breathe deeply and let them subside on their own. Do not bend much to massage them yourself – you will put unnecessary pressure on your baby bump. Rather if your partner or someone is around – ask them to come to your rescue. They could either massage the calf muscles or help you do some stretching. You could yourself try and rotate your ankles or move your toes to increase circulation. Remember to not point the toes – they will only aggravate the pain!