Waking up in the middle of the night with excruciating cramps in your calf?
It's possible that your leg muscles are tired from carrying around all of your extra weight. Or they may be aggravated by the pressure your expanding uterus puts on the blood vessels that return blood from your legs to your heart and the nerves that lead from your trunk to your legs.
Leg cramps may start to plague you during the second trimester and may get worse as your pregnancy progresses and your belly gets bigger. While these cramps can occur during the day, you'll probably notice them most at night.
Tips for keeping leg cramps at bay:
Avoid standing or sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time.
Stretch your calf muscles regularly during the day and several times before you go to bed.
Rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes when you sit, eat dinner, or watch TV.
Take a walk every day, unless your midwife or doctor has advised you not to exercise.
Avoid getting too tired. Lie down on your left side to improve circulation to and from your legs.
Stay hydrated during the day by drinking water regularly.
Try a warm bath before bed to relax your muscles.
There's some evidence that taking a magnesium supplement in addition to a prenatal vitamin may help some women. Check with your provider before taking any kind of supplement during pregnancy.
If you do get a cramp, immediately stretch your calf muscles: Straighten your leg, heel first, and gently flex your toes back toward your shins. It might hurt at first, but it will ease the spasm and the pain will gradually go away.
You can try to relax the cramp by massaging the muscle or warming it with a hot water bottle. Walking around for a few minutes may help too.
If your muscle pain is constant and not just an occasional cramp – or if you notice swelling or tenderness in your leg – call your practitioner. These may be signs of a blood clot, which requires immediate medical attention. Blood clots are rare, but your risk is higher during pregnancy.