Pregnancy and Leg Cramps

Around half way through of both of my pregnancies I started to experiencing leg cramps in the middle of the night.

What happens is that sleep goes normally until I get the urge to stretch. If I stretch a certain way, the muscles in my calves tense up and I get what feels like a charlie horse.

While trying to figure out how I can stop this, I found this information at the March of Dimes. Hopefully it can be helpful to other pregnant moms out there.

Leg cramps are a sudden tightening of muscles, which can cause intense pain. The muscles may tighten for a variety of reasons, such as lack of fluids, injury, muscle strain, or staying in the same position for a long period of time. Blood circulation problems or pressure on the nerves in the spine can also cause cramp-like pains in your legs.

The reasons for increased leg cramps during pregnancy aren’t clear. They may be caused by:

  • Changes in blood circulation during pregnancy
  • The stress on your leg muscles of carrying the extra weight of pregnancy
  • The pressure of the growing baby on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs

Experts once thought that leg cramps were caused by too little calcium in the diet. They no longer believe that this is true. (But be sure you are eating enough dairy products and other foods that contain calcium during pregnancy. This nutrient is important to your baby’s development and helps keep your own bones strong and healthy.)

Leg Cramps: What You Can Do Here are some tips to prevent or relieve leg cramps:

  • Stretch. Stretching your legs (especially your calves) before going to bed can help reduce your chances of getting leg cramps. When you feel a cramp in your leg, straighten your leg—heel first—and wiggle your toes. Avoid pointing your toes when stretching or exercising.
  • Avoid standing or sitting in one position for long periods of time. Avoid sitting in a position that may restrict blood flow (such as sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time).
  • Exercise. Regular exercise, such as a daily walk, can help prevent leg cramps. (Always be sure to find out from your health care provider what exercises are safe for you and how long you can maintain your exercise program.) If you’re able to stand, walking for a few minutes when you have a leg cramp can help ease the pain and relax the muscle.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid getting dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.
  • Massage your legs and apply heat. When you have a leg cramp, relax the muscle through gentle massage, or heat the muscle with a warm towel or hot water bottle. A warm bath before bedtime may also help to relax your muscles and prevent leg cramps.


About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

1 Comment

  • Hi there i am 32 weeks prego with my third and have never had a charlie horse until this week. WOW they hurt! The only time I get them is during the night any one else out there have the same problem? What can I do to prevent them?

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