Among the myriad of difficulties that expecting mothers go through, having leg cramps is one of the more painful ones. The increasing pregnancy weight is thought to be the main reason for this, as the legs carry all the weight of the body.
There are a lot of causes why pregnant women experience leg cramps, but the most common of them is an excess of phosphorus. Phosphorus hinders the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is required for the expansion and contraction of the muscles. If you are also lacking in calcium, it may lead to leg cramps.
Cramps during early pregnancy: When should you be worried?
When should you be worried when it comes to having cramps during pregnancy? | Photo grabbed from RODNAE Productions of Pexels
The motherhood journey is not as easy as one, two, or three. There are many inevitable changes a woman will undergo just to bear a baby. Whether it is emotional, mental, or even physical, all of it will have noticeable changes in a woman’s body. For this, let us talk about the physical pain that pregnancy can bring, one of which is to know what early pregnancy cramps feel like.
As your pregnancy progresses, your baby will continue to grow inside your uterus. During your first and second trimesters, your body is constantly preparing for the birth of your kid. The muscles of your uterus will soon begin to expand and stretch. As a result, your stomach could feel as though it is being pulled from both sides.
This is the main reason why you may have cramping. All women experience it, and most of the time, it is quite normal. There may also be instances where your cramps resemble your regular period cramps.
Although cramping is frequently a normal sign of pregnancy, there are times when it poses a serious safety risk. This is when you should be very careful in determining whether it is still a normal pain or not.
Cramps during the first trimester of pregnancy
As we mentioned above, during the first trimester, your body begins preparing for the growing baby. These modifications may result in typical cramps. It is often brief and modest.
When you get pregnant, your uterus grows. When it does this, you’ll likely have mild to severe cramping in your lower back or abdomen. This could feel like pressure, stretching, or pulling. It may also feel like your typical menstrual cramps where you almost did all the exhibitions but it is still there.
As you grow through the first two trimesters, cramps are probably going to happen from time to time. The uterus is a muscle, therefore every time it contracts there is a risk for some little discomfort. A full bladder, constipation, gas, or bloating, all of which are prevalent in pregnant women, may be the cause of this.
Pregnancy cramps can still be visible even if it is not in your early pregnancy. | Photo grabbed from Pavel Danilyuk
Stomach cramps can also occur later in pregnancy as the uterus continues to grow. You should experience the fewest cramps during the second trimester. At this moment, the muscle that supports the uterus, your round ligament, will begin to stretch. Lower abdominal pain that is either sharp or throbbing is common during this time.
If you are carrying multiples, be prepared for some stiffness in the second trimester as your body gets used to the extra room. This final spike in growth (and the increased pelvic pressure it causes) typically occurs in the third trimester of a single pregnancy.
Although some cramps during second trimester of pregnancy are typical, be on the lookout for any preterm labor signs. These include backaches that don’t get better after a while, persistent pelvic pressure, vaginal blood or fluid, or more than five contractions or cramps in an hour.
Even if it is not in your second trimester, you should always guard yourself against any serious risk.
The third trimester is the time when you should be more ready to give birth.
As you enter the third trimester, it’s likely that you’ll start to feel increasing pressure in your pelvis. This is quite usual considering how swiftly your baby is currently developing.
Your infant compresses the nerves that flow from your vagina to your legs. You may feel more pressure and cramps while you walk while the baby is moving inside of you. If you spend some time lying on your side, your pain might go away. Call your doctor right away if your cramping becomes more severe or persistent.
Dr. Annette Bond, the head of maternal-fetal medicine at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, claims that cramping throughout the third trimester is never actually seen as typical for pregnancy.
The stiffness or hardening of your tummy, as well as any recent back issues, must be mentioned, according to Bond. The signs of early labor can differ from mother to mother especially if your back pain and the fluctuations in your vaginal discharge are related.
How much cramping is normal in early pregnancy?
When does cramping consider normal? When should you be worried?
If your cramps are severe or continue for a long time, call your doctor immediately once. Investigating something that doesn’t seem right is preferable to ignoring something that could be a serious issue.
It is you who can determine if there is something wrong with your body. If this is the case, you should get yourself check for it gives risk both to you and your baby.
In particular, persistently severe cramping needs to be examined in order to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), it occurs in fewer than 2% of pregnancies. However, it is the leading cause of death for pregnant women.
Cramps and ectopic pregnancy: What is the relation between the two?
Experiencing cramps if you are pregnant may be a sign of having an ectopic pregnancy says experts. | Photo grabbed from MART PRODUCTION
Have you heard the term ectopic pregnancy?
Ectopic pregnancy or also called tubal pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. This pregnancy usually happens in a woman’s fallopian tube. Symptoms typically appear six to eight weeks into your pregnancy. Here are some of the most typical signs you may experience:
- Experiencing a vaginal bleeding
- Feelings of dizziness or weakness
- Feeling that you are about to faint
- Having low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Pressure in your rectum
- Neck or shoulder pain
- One-sided cramping
If you think you may be experiencing the fatal symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy that has ruptured, go to the emergency room as soon as possible. If the cramping seems to be in the location on one side of your lower abdomen, call your doctor even if it isn’t severe. This will assure the safety of you and your baby.
Also, call your doctor if you experience any form of vaginal bleeding in the early stages of pregnancy in addition to cramping; it’s possible that you are having a miscarriage.
Although these signs don’t necessarily indicate a miscarriage, your doctor should be able to perform hCG blood testing or an ultrasound to determine what’s happening.
Leg cramps during pregnancy are not something to worry about at all times. But if you are experiencing quite a lot or the cramps become severe immediately talk to your doctor because in some cases it could be a sign of preeclampsia.
This condition is considered one of the many complications a pregnant woman may experience. If you have this, you will experience the following symptoms:
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- High level of protein in the urine or any kidney damage or problems
- Any damage from the different organs of the body
- Increased in liver enzymes
- Extreme headaches
- Temporary blurred or loss of vision
- Sensitivity from light
- Having a hard time breathing properly
- Pain in the belly usually in the upper belly
- Dizziness or vomiting
You can expect this to happen after the 20 weeks of pregnancy in women where blood pressure was in the standard range.
Preeclampsia might be dangerous for you and your baby but with proper guidance and medications from your doctor, you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. If it is left untreated, this condition can lead to fatal for both the mommy and baby.
Can you prevent leg cramps during pregnancy?
The sad news is no, you can never prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. This is a part of many hardships a mother will experience during her pregnancy journey.
Although leg cramps in pregnancy might not be avoidable there are ways how can you relieve leg cramps during pregnancy. We also listed some of them to help you.
Pregnancy cramps relief: What to do about it
- At the start of your pregnancy, your doctor will already recommend an increased calcium intake for you. It is important for a woman to have more calcium during pregnancy, so make sure not to skip your daily supplement or your glass of milk.
- A good diet and proper exercise will also lessen your chances of having leg cramps. Exercise will give your blood a chance to flow normally.
- Eat food rich in calcium and magnesium. Pregnancy is the time to be healthier so that your baby is safe all throughout.
- Drink a lot of water! Increasing the fluids in your body can help with your leg cramps during pregnancy. One of the many reasons for leg cramps during pregnancy is dehydration so keep yourself dehydrated.
- Rest! It is important to get enough rest during your pregnancy after a long activity you had during the day. Make sure to have at least 8 hours of sleep every day.
- A good nighttime exercise would be to stretch against the wall while standing about two feet away from it. Elevating your feet during the day will ease tiredness and stop cramps from developing.
- If you take a warm bath before bed every night and set aside some time throughout the day to unwind quietly and pleasantly, your stomach should also feel better.
- Wearing a belly band while pregnant, according to Bond, may also help with cramps. She suggested placing a simple belt with Velcro elastic under the stomach. Make sure it is flexible and not overly restrictive.
Additional information from Ange Villanueva
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