Two words. Leg. Cramps.
I hear this complaint at LEAST twice a day from my mamas. It is one of those inevitable pregnancy symptoms that can keep you up at night, cause annoying excruciating pain, and like not go away. Like ever.
So let’s start by figuring out why you’re getting those cramps. These cramps are caused by a few different things in pregnancy. One, the extra weight of your baby putting pressure on the lower half of your body does not help. That extra weight really does put a toll on your body. Not entirely your fault though! That pressure is leaning on the veins in your lower body, and blood circulation can become a tad more difficult. Two, that little leach inside your belly is stealing all your awesome nutrients from your body, and keeping them to yourselves. What you’re feeling when you have those nasty cramps, is the lack of magnesium and calcium. Again, not your fault. You know, because you have a human growing inside of you? No big deal.
So how can you get rid of these cramps? Sometimes when you check with your doctor or midwife, they will mention tonic water. This is true, and great. But if you do some google-research, you’ll find that the quinine (which is found in tonic water, and what helps with the cramping) is in small portions in this water. So you’ll have to drink a few glasses to get the maximum relief that you are trying for. And this does not mean to not try it. Please! Try it! Drink as much as you can, and if it works for you, AWESOMESAUCE!
Here are a few more things that you can do to help with those cramps.
First, try and stay off your feet as much as you can in later second and third trimester. Yeah I know, if it was only that easy?! Ok, I know that it can be tough, but every little bit helps. If you can, kick those feet up when you sit, to help the blood circulation around your legs and relieve some of that pressure.
When you are moving around, trying some mild aerobic exercises and stretches throughout the day to really loosen up those limbs. Don’t over exert yourself, and make yourself hurt. But doing some stretches that really get your legs loosened up, can really help you get through your day. Rotate your feet and ankles, moving them in circles as much as you can. Stretch those calves out, without hurting yourself of course. Also try going up to a wall, placing your palms flat on there, and stretch each leg back, multiple times. Just like this picture:
Try taking a hot bath at night before you go to bed. Having that water really soak in and relax your legs feel great, along with everything else. This could really be just what you needed. After a long day of, you know, CARRYING A HUMAN.
So sleeping can be a pain in the butt and your cramping can really show its ugly face while you’re in bed. What can you do about them? Try a pillow! Now you don’t have to go out and spend about 100$ on a pregnancy pillow, any pillow will do. And if you want some super pillow-age (yeah I think that sounds good) try a body pillow! They are longer, and you can fold them, and pretty much have two pillows in one. They are pretty cheap, and you can pick them up at WalMart! Propping your legs up at night can really help with cramping, even when you’re not pregnant. Now I know that you’re in some not-so-comfortable positions while sleeping, but propping your feet up, and figuring out a comfortable position for those tootsies can really benefit your legs in the morning! And if you are someone that tucks your blankets in at the foot of your bed, you should really try and not do this when your having those cramps. The more that your feet can move around and stretch through the night, the better!
Lastly, have your partner rub your legs! I know that when I get a cramp or a crazy severe charlie horse, I ask my husband to rub it nice and hard. This always helps my legs feel better. If it is not too uncomfortable, you can return the favor at the same time. Find a good movie, or show on TV, lay head to toe, and massage each others legs. My hubs and I do this all the time. No joke, it is almost a ritual now.
Try and make your cramps dissolve as much as you can by trying these different things. But make sure you really know the difference between a leg cramp, and a possible blood clot, or other issue. If your skin is hot, red and swollen all together, contact your doctor or midwife right away! Always make sure you really inspect your legs to make sure that you are not having a more serious issue. And when in doubt, call them up! Don’t wait it out!