What happens to your legs during pregnancy?

As you move into the second half of your pregnancy, you may begin to experience cramps in your legs, particularly in your feet and calves. These spasms in your leg muscles tend to be more severe in the third trimester2 when your legs are carrying the growing weight of you and your baby. This common pregnancy symptom also often happens at night, making it hard to get a good night’s sleep when you and your baby need it most.

Why do leg cramps occur?

Softening of the pelvic joints in preparation for birth, often coupled with bad circulation and your growing baby pressing on nerves and blood vessels in your legs, can cause leg cramps.

How should you manage leg cramps during pregnancy?

Deficiencies in certain nutrients are likely to increase the occurrence of these inconvenient spasms, so revamp your diet. There are also immediate measures to decrease the likelihood of cramps striking at night.

Eat:

  • 2,000 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day. Potassium-rich foods include sweet potatoes, salmon, pistachios, and broccoli.

  • 600 mg of calcium each day–a nutrient readily available in foods such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and spinach

  • 350 mg of magnesium daily.9 Almonds, sunflower seeds and cashew nuts make great magnesium-rich snacks you can carry around.

Do:

  •  Ease nighttime cramps by straightening your legs and flexing your toes towards you slowly.

  • Call your doctor if your leg cramps are accompanied by swelling, redness, and warmth in your legs, especially if it’s just in one leg, as it can be a sign of a blood clot

 

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