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Leg crampsDuring the second and third trimesters, you may have painful leg cramps, particularly at night or while sleeping. You may also have a jumpy feeling in your legs. Leg cramps tend to occur more often during the last months of pregnancy.
Causes of leg cramps during pregnancy
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
- Muscle strain
- Staying in the same position for a long period of time
- Blood circulation problems or pressure on the nerves in the spine
- 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
What you can do
Here are some tips to prevent or relieve leg cramps:
- 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).
- With your provider's OK, regular exercise, such as a daily walk, can help prevent leg cramps.
- 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.
- Avoid getting dehydrated.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.
- 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.