I’ve never had leg cramps at night in the calf muscle before and the experience was definitely not pleasant to say the least. At 19 weeks pregnant and well into my second trimester, I started to get muscle cramps in the calf muscle region early morning and in the middle of the night. The worst were the pregnancy leg cramps at night, which made it difficult to sleep.
It was such an awful experience as it happened spontaneously and pretty much every night. It got to a point where I was afraid to go to sleep! The feeling of muscle cramps are hard to explain but it really felt like your muscle was being pulled away from your skin and bone. It was an uncontrollable reaction and it even made my calf muscle so sore that I was unable to walk for several hours. Needless to say, I needed to find a way to prevent it from happening throughout the rest of my pregnancy.
How to Combat Muscle Cramps
After the second incident, I started to realize that perhaps this was going to be an ongoing issue and that I needed to resolve it immediately. I did not like muscle cramps and did not want it to happen ever again. At the time, we had just moved to Taiwan and were looking for an apartment to live in. Therefore I did not have the time to go to the doctors for an appointment to ask the doctor for that reason.
Instead I did some thorough research online on the subject matter, particularly looking at articles and research for pregnant women. Since muscle cramps can occur for men and women specifically if you run or work out, it was important to address the issue for pregnant women.
Here are four things I did that really helped prevent muscle cramps:
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking a lot of water, at least 2 liters a day helped immensely to reduce the muscle cramps. Blood flow in your legs are really important and drinking lots of fluids can help prevent any clogs in the body.
Make sure that you have plenty of water by purchasing a 2 liter bottle water. This will help you keep track each day that you have had 2 liters of water. I found this to be a simple yet effective way to track my water intake.
2. Stretching Before Sleep
There are some simple stretches that can be done before going to bed that really helped too. One that I would recommend doing is to stand about 2 feet away from a wall. Place your arms aligned to your shoulders and press firmly against the wall, leaning towards the wall. This helps stretch out the calf area.
I found this stretch to be helpful in releasing any tension in the legs. It was also a very calming stretch to do before going to bed, helping me to unwind and relax.
3. Adding Milk and Bananas to Your Diet
When reading online the best ways to combat muscle cramps, I found that adding more potassium in your diet aka, eating a banana a day can help prevent muscle cramps. For pregnant women in particular, your intake of calcium is important not only for to strengthen the bones of your baby during development stages but also to prevent pregnancy muscle cramps as well.
I started drinking 2 to 4 cups of milk per day. This helped with maintaining the amount of calcium I needed for my baby but also helped reduced the amount of cramps.
4. Try to Adjust Your Sleeping Position
Often I would sleep on my side as I read online that it can help with the baby’s growth and put less demand on your organs. However as my belly got bigger, I was bending my knees to help with the weight. I noticed as a result that when the cramps occurred, my legs were bent and when I went to straighten my legs that’s when the cramps would occur.
I didn’t read anything about this online and this was just a personal experience. I then started trying to sleep with my legs more straight and found that the leg cramps at night didn’t happen. I figured that it was happening because of the muscle tension for hours sleeping with bent legs that when I finally straightened them out there was a cramping sensation.
I hope these 4 simple yet effective tips of how to combat those awful pregnancy muscle cramps help you during your pregnancy. Remember, muscle cramps can occur from the second trimester up until you give birth. For me in particular, it was at 19 weeks pregnant and continued to happening on and off until the end of my second trimester. What worked for you? I would love to hear your experience and whether these tips helped you.