Sharp pains in the legs, especially the calf muscles, are just a part of pregnancy. Like any other pregnancy aches, hormones are probably to blame for some of the pain, but other factors are certainly part of these irritating nightly occurrences as well.
Causes of Leg Cramps in Pregnancy
There is no definitive cause of leg cramps in pregnancy, but hormones may play a part. Other causes are thought to be associated with the increased weight on leg muscles and expanding blood vessels in the lower part of the body.
Important Facts About Leg Cramps in Pregnancy
Most pregnancy aches and pains get better at night when you can lay down to rest, but this is not the case in terms of leg cramps. During the day, leg cramps may move up and down calf muscles. At night, after a long day of strain and fluid retention, leg cramps can be at their worst. The third trimester of pregnancy is when leg cramps may grow stronger due to swelling in the lower half of the body.
Treatment for Leg Cramps in Pregnancy
Keeping legs and feet from swelling profusely can help ease some of the leg cramp pain. Sitting down for 15 minutes every hour and propping feet up above the heart during times of rest, can prevent fluid from retaining in the lower half of the body. Stretching before bed may also provide relief. Drinking plenty of water is important for overall health and also preventing leg cramps.
Some women find that decreasing levels of magnesium and calcium in the diet during pregnancy can make leg cramps worse. While prenatal vitamins often include both, eating a diet rich in foods with magnesium and calcium never hurts.