When you’re pregnant, you feel like you’re constantly exercising. Essentially, even just walking around with the added weight of your baby, especially in the third trimester, is like exercise. Your muscles are working a lot harder than they normally are, and they can become tired more easily. For this reason, pregnant women are more susceptible to heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms, and occur most frequently in the thighs and calves. As their name implies, they tend to occur most in the heat.
The exact cause of heat cramps is unknown, but studies suggest that they might be a result of electrolyte loss. Electrolytes contain sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which all contribute to changes in your tissues. You lose many electrolytes when you sweat, and water alone does not restore them. Drinking beverages with electrolytes should eliminate the problem.
Although heat cramps during your pregnancy have no serious side effects on you or your baby, you should try preventing them if only to save yourself discomfort. If you know you are going to be getting some exercise in heat with your baby bump, bring along a drink with electrolytes to stave off the cramps. Also, if the heat level is high in any area where you must be moving a lot, take breaks often and don’t push yourself too hard. If you are suffering from severe heat cramps and you do not have access to a drink with electrolytes, try making your own salt drink by mixing a quarter teaspoon of salt with water to relieve the pain. However, don’t take salt tablets by mouth, as these can give you an upset stomach, especially with your pregnant body’s already volatile system.
While heat cramps can happen to anyone getting a workout in an environment that is especially hot, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to them because their muscles are working a lot harder than usual. Staying adequately hydrated and avoiding high levels of heat while you are pregnant are good ways to avoid heat cramps. If you’re experiencing them and do not have any remedy, simply wait them out and they’ll go away on their own. Heat cramps won’t cause any serious problems on their own, but they do signify that your body is becoming overheated, so be very careful to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as these conditions do have very serious consequences.