Cramping my style

Not abdominal cramps (YET). Leg cramps. A few nights ago, I woke up with a spasm in my left leg. I had to hurtle out of bed in the dark (not so easy when you’ve got the equivalent of a 1kg bag of flour inside your tummy) and stretch it out. Fortunately the pain receded quickly and I managed to get back to sleep. The next night, the same thing happened, in the same leg. After that, a couple of nights off. Then: the night before last, a particularly painful but again short-lived cramp, in my right leg this time. Although I didn’t cramp up last night, it’s still aching a bit now and feels like a muscle strain from my running/gym days…

As my cramps are clearly in no way related to exercise, I thought I’d better look into this unexpected and annoying occurrence and what do you know? Turns out they are a classic pregnancy symptom, which is particularly common in the second and third trimesters.


What to Expect: leg cramps

According to the NHS, pregnancy is the number one cause of leg cramps at night, so I’m not alone. The causes are various: the most obvious one is carrying the increasing weight of a little one – that bag of flour is expanding every day – which compresses the blood vessels in the legs. The What to Expect and Babycentre websites also suggest a lack of calcium or magnesium in the diet, or maybe pregnancy hormones.

Ideas to prevent leg cramps include stretching before bed, putting your feet up as much as possible (yay!) and the old chestnut that appears to be the cure for everything: drinking loads of water.

What I need to remember is that leg cramps are mostly harmless. In rare cases, a severe, persistent cramp may be a sign of a blood clot in the leg, but as mine seem to be just annoying spasms at the moment I’m just going to have to keep frantically throwing myself out of bed in an increasingly ungraceful manner…

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