Preventing and Treating Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
Courtney Hasseman, CNM
Nighttime leg cramps are a common complaint of pregnancy. Many women, especially in their third trimester, are startled at night by cramps in their calves or feet. You may have heard the old recommendation to eat a banana to help prevent leg cramps. While it’s not bad advice, bananas alone won’t solve your problem. Here are the three most common causes of those pesky cramps and how you can work to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Chances are you’re not drinking enough water. Try increasing your intake of pure water first thing in the morning and between meals throughout the day. Add a pinch of lemon, mint leaves, or sea salt to make it taste more palatable. Dehydration not only causes leg cramps but uterine cramps too. All of the muscles in our body need adequate water intake to function normally.
Movement and Stretching
Get outside for a walk! Regular exercise and stretching will help prevent muscle cramps. Any type of exercise will do. During pregnancy, choices such as walking, swimming, and yoga are gentle and effective.
Minerals in Your Diet
While calcium, potassium, and magnesium are all important for muscle contraction and relaxation, magnesium deficiencies are most common. Try to increase magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as nuts, fish, spinach, kale, and avocados. If you need to add a magnesium supplement, choose a quality source of magnesium such as a citrate or malate form. We should be consuming about 300mg of magnesium daily between food and supplement intake. One favorite of mine is Natural Calm magnesium beverage by Natural Vitality. Drinking the magnesium before bed will help relax all of your muscles while you sleep, especially those legs muscles.
Don’t hesitate to let your midwife know if you have any other questions or concerns about your leg cramps.
If you have further questions about leg cramps during pregnancy, at any time of day, or anything else regarding your pregnancy or general women's health, please contact Courtney Hasseman, CNM, of Loudoun Community Midwives at (703) 726-1300 for more information.