Leg Cramps

What are Leg Cramps in Pregnancy?

Is your body waking you up with severe leg cramps during the night? Are your leg muscles painfully cramping, especially in the calf muscle? Pregnancy leg cramps are a common pregnancy symptom that many women experience, especially during the third trimester. With a growing baby come more aches and pains.

When do leg cramps start during pregnancy?

Generally, muscle cramps in the lower legs start happening in the later stages of pregnancy, from the third trimester. These leg cramps can be quite painful and it can take a few minutes to get them to ease off and calm muscle spasms down.

When you are working on getting pregnant, you don’t hear about this kind of pregnancy symptom. It is good to be prepared and know causes and treatments and begin supplements early on in pregnancy.

Leg Cramps Pregnancy

What Causes Leg Cramps During Pregnancy?

I have found little medical explanation to explain why leg cramps (or charley horses) happen:

  • One source says a possible cause for pregnant women to experience leg cramps could be reduced levels of calcium in the blood or increased levels of phosphorus.
  • Our pregnant bodies draw on internal mineral and nutrient supplies, therefore depleting supplies if not replaced. Iron for example. Lack of iron could cause pregnancy leg cramps.
  • Perhaps extra weight gain and putting pressure on the blood circulation for a prolonged period of time during sleep causes leg cramps.
  • Further, as with water retention, an inadequate supply of blood to a muscle due to the reduced effectiveness of the blood circulation in your legs, could be a main cause for cramps.
  • In case of severe pain that persists, connected with swelling and fever, make sure you contact your doctor straightaway as this could be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

What is a Charley Horse?

“Ouch my Charley Horses”

Have you come across the term Charley Horse? According to medicine.net, it is simply a common term for painful leg cramps. Nothing to do with a horse at all.

Home Remedies for Preventing Leg Cramps

  • Drink plenty of water during the day (I know it means more visits to the toilet, but keep it up).
  • Gentle stretching before going to bed to stimulate blood circulation.
  • Rock forwards on to your tiptoes and back again to help pump the blood around your legs.
  • Keep your leg muscles warm – consider wearing warmer pyjama trousers to keep the blood flowing around your legs better.
  • Wear pregnancy compression tights to support your blood circulation whilst you are sleeping.
  • Take a warm bath with Epsom Salts before bed to relax and warm up your muscles.

Vitamins, Minerals & Essential Oils for Preventing Leg Cramps

  • Magnesium supplements and calcium supplements. Ensure you have adequate calcium and magnesium nutrient intake. All women, including pregnant women, should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day.
  • Eat a magnesium rich diet by including foods such as spinach, cashews, almonds and peanuts.
  • Iron Supplements or an iron rich diet. Iron helps to improve blood circulation and will support the flow of oxygen to your muscles, good for preventing leg cramps.
  • Take a Vitamin combination of D3 &K2.
  • Essential Oil blends (mixed with fractionated coconut oil or a carrier oil):
    • Rosemary, Cypress and Peppermint
    • Marjoram, lavender, helichrysum, eucalyptus, rosemary, geranium or cypress oils.

Home Remedies for Treating Leg Cramps

  • Gently massage the cramped muscle to increase blood flow in the area.
  • Once your muscle spasms calm down, get out of bed and move around to encourage blood circulation.
  • Rub an essential oil mix to the effected muscles.
When using Essential Oils, it is important to ensure your oils are of a high quality

Contact your health care provider to discuss pregnancy health and your leg cramp symptoms. It is always important to get a medical opinion as leg cramps in pregnancy could be a sign of something more severe such as blood clots.