I often have leg cramps. Is that because of not enough calcium? What should I do?

I often have leg cramps, is it because I do not have enough calcium? What can I do?

Leg cramps are usually caused by muscle tension and commonly occur when pregnant women are resting, especially while sleeping.

Why do I have leg cramps?

The reasons for leg cramps are unclear so far. However, studies have shown that the hormonal changes and the expanding uterus cause slower blood circulation in the lower part of your body. This might be related to the leg cramping. Moreover, severe vomiting can cause an imbalance of electrolytes in your body. Cramping may result if there is not enough potassium or calcium in the blood. Leg cramps can be very painful but there are no long-term effects.

What can I do when I experience leg cramps?

When you have leg cramps, stand up straight or lie down on your back and stretch your legs while moving your toes towards your head, then massage your legs. You can also use a warm towel to massage your legs. Pregnant women should have regular and appropriate exercises, such as, stretching, moving and massaging the calf muscles. You can also put your legs on top of a pillow while resting.

Here is an exercise that you can try: first, lie down on a flat surface, facing up. Put your legs on top of two pillows. Move your ankles up and down, inward and outward, and then combine these movements by making a circle. Repeat ten times. If you want to find out more, please refer to the “Antenatal Exercise” pamphlet.

In terms of nutrition, medical research has shown that magnesium helps decrease leg cramps. Pregnant women can obtain magnesium from the following foods: whole wheat bread, dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale), tofu, soy products, dairy products, nuts, or fish. Adding calcium or salt to your diet does not help treat leg cramps.

What else should I pay attention to?

If your leg cramps persist, become more severe, or you have serious vomiting or cramping in other parts of your body, then you should consult a doctor as soon as possible.