Pregnancy Leg Cramps

Pregnancy leg cramps are not uncommon. The majority of pregnancy leg cramps occur during the third trimester. According to Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, almost half of all pregnant women suffer from muscle spasms in their legs, with cramping more frequent during the evening.

What causes pregnancy leg cramps?

Pregnancy leg cramps may be attributed to the changes in blood circulation and the extra weight gain during pregnancy. Pressure from the developing baby may also be placed on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs. This pressure or pinching may be the cause of your pregnancy leg cramps.

How can you do to treat pregnancy leg cramps?

There are a number of steps you can take to better manage leg cramps in pregnancy or prevent them from occurring. Try one or more of the following interventions to help relieve or prevent your pregnancy leg cramps:

  • Exercise regularly; include stretches that target your calves
  • Rest with your legs elevated
  • Wear supportive stockings
  • Massage your calves and feet
  • Apply local heat

Contact your health care provider if your leg cramps are severe or remain consistent. Your health care provider may prescribe additional supplements or medication.

Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Part 3.

March of Dimes, http://www.marchofdimes.com/

Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Ninth Ed. Scott, James R., et al, Ch. 1.

American Pregnancy Association, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

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