Why do my legs cramp at night when I'm pregnant?

November 12, 2019


Never had leg cramps before but now your pregnant all of a sudden your legs are cramping at night?


Muscle cramps are defined as 'painful, localised, involuntary skeletal muscle cramps'. They are a very common complaint in pregnancy, especially in the last trimester of pregnancy. They occur in 50% of pregnancies and subside after delivery. Theories behind cramping in pregnancy relate to; weight gain, impaired blood supply to the lower limbs, joint laxity and increased pressure on leg muscles. Pressure on the blood and nerve vessels from the enlarged uterus can effect electrolyte, vitamin and mineral levels, thus causing cramps. Studies have suggested vitamin B1, B, E, C and Magnesium have been very beneficial to resolving pregnancy leg cramps. Possibly calcium supplements are beneficial too. 


Natural ways to relieve the cramps:

- Muscle stretching

Stretching both before bed & during a cramp can help relieve the cramping. Sitting on the floor, legs straight out in front of you in a 'V' position and gently lean forwards. This can create a stretching sensation in your inner thighs and behind the knee's most commonly. 


- Physical exercise
Going for a walk at lunch time and early evening can help build muscle and improve the circulation in your legs. Ideally a 20minute walk is great. 


- Avoiding physical fatigue

We lead such busy lives and can often over do it. Take breaks and rest throughout the day, don't wait until your exhausted to stop and listen to your body.


- Massage

This is a great way to improve circulation to your legs. It gently stimulates the circulation of blood to help prevent muscle cramps. A great way your partner can help during your pregnancy.


- Relaxation

Going hand in hand with avoiding physical fatigue, do what suits you to relax. Read a book, practice some diaphragmatic breathing, especially before going to sleep, meditation and so on.


- Heat therapy

Applying heat to your legs can also help as it stimulates your circulation. Try heating a wheat bag up while your watching tv at night.


Osteopathy and cramps

Treatment is aimed at improving the circulation in your legs by reducing all muscle tension and improving the lower back, pelvic and lower limb mechanics. Lifestyle advice may be given including; exercise, stretches, supplements and so on. Osteopathy is a safe, effective form of hands on physical therapy to relieve the unwanted pregnancy aches & pains.


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