cramping up

Not long ago, I heard that one of the side effects of pregnancy was leg cramps, especially at night. 

“That doesn’t sound good” I thought.  “I hate cramps.  Glad that doesn’t happen to me”

Oops!  Spoke too soon.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting minor cramps that wake me when I’d rather be getting my beauty sleep.  But over the last two nights they’ve been so severe that even walking was painful this morning.

So much for thinking I’ve avoided them.

On the plus side, might be a good excuse for a massage.

So what causes these cramps?  The jury’s mostly out on this one.

According to (and many other sources) they can be caused by a lack of calcium, magnesium and/or salt.

I can wipe the first one out – am consuming so much cheese, hot chocolates, smoothies and ice cream I don’t think calcium is an issue here.

The magnesium? Not entirely sure where to find this in my diet but the pregnancy multi-vite covers that one.

And the salt?  I’m pretty sure the cheese covers this too (I always knew it was a super food).

BabyCentre gives a different (and infinitely more plausible) explanation.  “Your leg muscles are tired from carrying around all of your extra weight”.


Might be time to cut back on my sources of calcium, at least a little, to minimise the extra cargo.

If you’re also suffering from cramps, here are BabyCentre’s solutions (although the last one confuses me somewhat – downwards as opposed to how?!):

  • You could try some of these practical measures during the day. They may help you to have a cramp-free sleep:
    Calf stretches. Stand a metre from a wall and lean forwards with your arms outstretched to touch the wall. Keep the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Hold for five seconds. Repeat the exercise for five minutes, three times a day, especially before going to bed (CKS 2008).
  • Drink plenty of liquid (Lee and Thomas 2009). If you’re worried about having to get up in the night for trips to the loo, try drinking almost nothing for an hour or two before bedtime. Just make sure you drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water during the day.
  • Daily foot exercises. Bend and stretch each foot vigorously up and down 30 times. Then rotate each foot eight times one way and eight times the other way (Young 2009, DH 2009).
  • Try not to stand for long periods or sit with your legs crossed.
  • Have a warm bath before going to bed (Lee and Thomas 2009).
  • Try not to sleep with your toes pointing downwards (CKS 2008).

Maybe I just need to stop whinging.  It ain’t nothing on childbirth (or so I hear).


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