Pregnancy and Leg Cramps

Woman experiencing leg cramps during her pregnancy

It is not uncommon to experience leg cramps during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. According to Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, almost half of all pregnant women suffer from muscle spasms in their legs, with cramping more frequent during the evening.

What causes leg cramps during pregnancy?

Leg cramps may be caused by the additional weight gain of pregnancy and changes in your circulation. Pressure from the growing baby may also be placed on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs.  This pressure or pinching may be the cause of your leg cramps.

What can you do to treat leg cramps during pregnancy?

There are a few things that you can do to treat leg cramps or prevent them from occurring.

Try one or more of the following interventions to help relieve or prevent your leg cramps:

  • Exercise regularly; include stretches that target your calves
  • Rest with your legs elevated
  • Wear supportive stockings
  • Massage your calves and feet
  • Apply local heat

Contact your health care provider if your leg cramps are severe or remain consistent. Your health care provider may prescribe additional supplements or medication.

Last Updated: 03/2014

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Mayo Clinic Guide To A Healthy Pregnancy Harms, Roger W., M.D., et al, Part 3.

March of Dimes,

Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Ninth Ed. Scott, James R., et al, Ch. 1.