You’ve finally fallen asleep after trying to find a comfortable position for twenty minutes, when all of a sudden, your calf muscle contracts in a painful cramp. Now you’re writhing around, clutching your sore leg, trying to get the muscle to relax.
Like morning sickness, cramps during pregnancy are one of those little problems you would happily do without. Unfortunately, cramps occur more frequently during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes that affect your circulation. While these painful episodes can keep you up at night and interrupt your day, they are not harmful and can easily be prevented. Here are seven ways to get rid of cramps during pregnancy that will have you resting easy all night long.
1. Drink 8 Cups Of Water Every Day
Cramps occur more often when your body is dehydrated. Therefore, it’s important to drink plenty of water while you’re pregnant. We recommend drinking at least eight cups of water to keep cramps at bay. Try drinking two cups of water with each meal and sipping from a water bottle between meals. You can also increase your intake of water-rich foods like cauliflower, spinach, peppers, and carrots. These foods are also great sources of vitamins and minerals that can help you stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.
2. Stop Smoking For Your Health And Your Baby’s Health
Stop smoking as soon as you know you’re pregnant—not just to prevent cramps, but for your health and the health of your developing child. Smoking causes your blood vessels to narrow, a process known as vasoconstriction. It also increase the levels of CO2 in your blood while decreasing the amount of oxygen your muscles receive. This narrowing of the blood vessels and increase in CO2 makes cramps more likely to occur. Do yourself and your baby a favor, stop smoking as soon as possible.
3. Talk To Your Doctor About Taking Extra Magnesium
A lack of magnesium in your diet can negatively affect your muscles’ ability to relax. That can make your body more prone to cramps. If cramps are a continuous problem, we suggest talking to your doctor about getting more magnesium, be it through dietary changes or through a prenatal supplement. Foods like spinach, walnuts, bananas, and dark chocolate are excellent natural sources of magnesium. Your doctor might actually utter the words “You need to eat more chocolate.”
4. Stretch To Get Rid Of Cramps During Pregnancy
Stretching is a great way to relax cramped muscles. It’s also a great way to prevent those cramps from occurring in the first place. Pay special attention to the muscle groups you find cramp most often. If you’re prone to nighttime cramps, try doing some light stretches before bed. Stretch your hamstrings, your quadriceps, and your calves because these are the muscles most likely to cramp at night.
5. Elevate Your Legs While You Sleep
Elevating your legs while you sleep is a simple and comfortable way to alleviate leg cramps during pregnancy. We recommend placing one or two pillows under your lower legs so that your knees, calves, and feet are slightly higher than your hips. This will help increase circulation between the heart and the feet and decrease the lactic acid buildup that causes your muscles to cramp. Elevating your legs also takes pressure off of your lower back, which is a welcome relief when you’re pregnant.
6. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Lack of sleep causes fatigue, which increases the likelihood that your muscles will cramp. It’s a vicious cycle when you don’t take action. A cramp wakes you up in the middle of the night, causing you to lose sleep, leaving you fatigued and your muscles more likely to cramp the next night. Here is a simple way to interrupt that uphill battle: take a nap. Even a quick twenty-minute nap in the afternoon can go a long way toward keeping you rested and cramp-free.
7. Relax With A Gentle Massage
There’s nothing better than a good massage. It’s a wonderful way to relax after a long day at work or at home with the kids. It’s also a great way to prevent cramps during pregnancy. Massage increases blood flow and keeps the muscles, tendons, and ligaments relaxed. This, in turn, keeps muscles loose and decreases the likelihood that they will cramp.
The nice thing about massaging to prevent cramps is that you can do it yourself. Sure, it’s nice to get your partner involved, but that isn’t always possible when you’re busy. For leg cramps, gently knead the front and back of your upper and lower legs for fifteen minutes. Spend about five minutes on each muscle group. You can do this anytime, but it’s especially useful to do at night so you aren’t startled awake by a cramp in your hamstring.
While you’re massaging to prevent cramps, why not prevent stretch marks at the same time? Instead of using just any old cream or oil, try a stretch mark prevention product like Mustela’s Stretch Marks Prevention Cream or Oil. It makes a great addition to any massage and can be used on your legs, belly, hips, and bust to prevent stretch marks. It’s the ultimate 2-in-1 product for expectant moms!