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Leg Cramps during pregnancy

What causes leg cramps in pregnancy?

If you've ever had a "charley horse," then you're already familiar with the kind of leg pain that many women encounter during pregnancy. No one is entirely sure why these sharp, lower-leg cramps crop up during the second and third trimesters; doctors theorize that it may have to do with the pressure of the uterus on certain nerves, fatigue, or decreased circulation in your legs from the pressure of the baby on blood vessels. In any case, you may be awakened with sudden painful spasms in your calf muscles (they most often occur at night). They aren't fun, but they're not usually cause for concern, either, unless they persist and are severe, in which case you should tell your healthcare provider.

What relieves leg cramps in pregnancy?

When a cramp strikes, straighten your leg and gently flex your foot, with toes pointed up and heel down, to stretch out your calf muscle. Don't point your toes--this usually makes the pain worse. Massage the muscle with long, firm strokes toward your foot. If you still feel sore, apply a heating pad or warm washcloth. To prevent the cramps, slowly flex and release your foot ten times before going to bed. If you continue be bothered by leg cramps, wear support hose, and avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time without a break.

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