Many pregnant people suffer from cramps in their calves. Or they report experiencing twitching, tingling or pulling in their legs. This is called restless legs syndrome. This can be very uncomfortable and lead to excruciating sleep disturbances. You may find some relief using simple measures, such as stretching exercises or hydrotherapy (specifically, alternating showers with hot and cold water).
About one third of all pregnant people have to deal with restless legs syndrome. It usually occurs between the 27th and 40th weeks of pregnancy. It occurs mainly at night. Those who suffer from it notice that their legs twitch, tingle or ache. Or they feel a strong urge to move their legs. Sometimes the arms are also affected. The cause of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy is not well understood. Many experts believe that iron deficiency may be a possible cause. However, it is also suspected that genetic predisposition may be activated by hormonal changes during pregnancy.
You should make sure that the blood circulation in your legs is strong. Long walks are good for you. Alternating showers with hot and cold water may also alleviate some discomfort. Before bed, you can help your legs or arms relax by taking a warm bath. Yoga or meditation exercises may also help calm your body.
You should talk to your doctor or midwife about your symptoms. They may advise you to top up your iron stores. There are well-tolerated iron supplements that can help. But folic acid or magnesium may also provide relief. An extra dose of vitamin C can be good for you too. But don’t take supplements without discussing it with your health care providers first. The people who care for you during your pregnancy have the best knowledge about what is good for you.
Calf cramps are also a common complaint during pregnancy. These too occur more frequently at night. People in the second trimester, i.e. between the 13th and 27th week of pregnancy, are particularly affected. One reason for this side effect of pregnancy may be the extra strain on your legs from increased weight. However, it is also possible for the expanding uterus to press on a nerve. The disturbed connection between the nerve and your muscles can lead to cramps and pain. Another possible cause of cramps is a lack of various minerals. When you lack certain nutrients, your nerves and muscles can no longer communicate with each other without interference. Then other parts of the body can also be affected by muscle cramps, for example the feet or buttocks.
Make sure you get enough exercise. It is important that the blood circulation in your legs is strong. This too may be helped by alternating showers with hot and cold water. You should also put your legs up as often as you can. Make sure you get enough potassium and magnesium. Whole grain products, nuts, milk, fish and meat are good sources of these nutrients. Be sure to consult with your doctor or midwife before taking additional minerals.
A cramp in the calf can be extremely uncomfortable. Stretching exercises can help ease the pain. If you're woken up by a cramp at night, all you have to do is sit up in bed. Extend your legs, push your heels forward and pull your toes towards your nose. Repeat this movement ten to fifteen times. It can also help if you walk up and down a few steps. Then the pain will probably subside.