Leg Cramps During Pregnancy: Causes And Treatments

Many women do complain about leg cramps during pregnancy. And this in not uncommon, infact about 50% of pregnant women do get leg cramps.

These cramps are common most especially in the second and third trimester. It makes sleeping at night quite uncomfortable for many.

​A cramp in the leg is a sudden tightening or painful contraction of the muscles of your leg. It may occur in your calf muscles most times but it is possible to have it in your thighs and feet.

Remember Cramps in the leg usually gets worse as your pregnancy progresses especially in the second and third trimester.

Causes of  Leg Cramps in Early/Late Pregnancy

In general, it is still unclear on the primary cause of  leg cramps . But pregnancy is a secondary causes of leg cramp.

But here are some of the ​common reasons why you could get cramps if you are pregnant:

  • Pregnancy Weight Gain

    The extra weight of the growing baby you carry during pregnancy may put pressure on your legs. Thereby leading to cramps. Leg cramps is also known as charley horses in pregnancy. Although leg cramps can start in early pregnancy even before a missed period. And can continue into the second and third trimester.

    • Fatique

    Fatique or tiredness is a common phenomenon during pregnancy. This may be due to the various hormonal changes happening in your body to support you and your baby.

    Night leg cramps are caused by muscle fatique  which is common in pregnancy.​ Not having a good night rest,stress or bad diet can lead to muscle fatique.

    • Nutritional Deficency or Dehydration

    Having a leg cramp can be a way of your body telling you that you're lacking sodium,water or other important minerals and vitamins.

    Deficiencies in Vit B1, B5, B6 may cause leg cramps. And also dehydration may cause a painful contraction in the legs.

    It is generally recommended that pregnant women should take a prenatal multivitamin during pregnancy and also eat a well balanced diet.

    • Poor blood Circulation

    If you're not getting enough circulation of blood to the legs, it can result in muscle cramps. Not having enough oxygen to the tissues of your muscles especially your calf muscles is a leading cause of pregnancy leg cramps.


    1. Keep Hydrated drink lots of water

    Dehydration is one of the major causes of muscle cramps in the leg. Drink enough fluid during the day and before you go to bed at night would help  reduce/stop muscle cramps. If you are suffering from constant dehydration.

    It is recommended you take 2 glasses of water once you experience muscle cramps.​

    2. take prenatal supplements or multvitamin

    Nutritional deficiency is common during pregnancy.  There is a high demand for nutrients and energy from the mom-to-be during pregnancy by the growing baby.

    A deficiency in nutrients and minerals such as iron, calcium , magnesium, vitamin B, potassium, sodium leads to tiredness, weakness in overall health including your muscles.

    This is why it is generally recommended for women to include multivitamins in their prenatal care.

    Choose a multivitamin/Supplements that provides all the nutrients that you need before and during pregnancy.​

    It is recommended you get around  350 to 360mg of magnesium everyday, 4,700 mg of potassium and 1,000 to 1,300 mg of calcium.

    3. stretch your calf

    Stretch you calf to loosen your the calf muscle. It is recommended that pregnant women perform stretches to strengthen and loosen their calf muscles.

    If you experience cramping, try stretching you calf muscle gently to relieve pain.

    4. start Eating a health diet 

    You need adequate supply of vitamins and nutrients while pregnant. The best way of getting enough nutrients is to eat a well balanced diet and take pregnancy supplement.

    Some minerals such as potassium is not easily absorbed by the body through supplements. 

    5. have some ginger

    Ginger is not only a very good remedy for nausea or morning sickness. But the healing properties of ginger also makes it capable of  reducing/eliminating leg cramps.  Take a cup of ginger tea or take a bath with ginger root extract every night before bed. This would help with overall wellness and health.

    6. avoid standing for so long

    Yes you read that right. If you are prone to leg or muscle cramps you should avoid standing up for so long. Standing for a long time  while pregnant puts pressure on your hips and feet. Which in turn affects the flow of blood to appropriate areas. 

    7. massage your legs

    Massage is a great way to reduce cramps in the leg.  A 5 minute calf massage before going to bed can go a long way in stopping the occurrence of the pain. 

    8. relax

    A good relaxation is a great way to relieve leg cramps while pregnant. Stress and anxiety produces hormones that affects your overall wellbeing including headaches, muscle cramps and leg pains.

    9. stay active everyday by walking

    Walking around everyday will help with proper blood and oxygen circulation to various parts of the body.  Pregnant women are advised to move actively from time to time.


    Epsom salt is great for relaxing, eases stress and helps sooth muscles. It has a high magnesium content which helps prevent deficiency in magnesium and helps stimulates the healing of your muscle cramps.

    You can massage your legs and calfs after bath​ with essential oils such as lavender, ginger and peppermint oil.


    More Reading

    Cramping after having intercourse​

    Pain After Period

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