Nearly fifty percent of all pregnant women experience muscle cramps during pregnancy. The majority of muscle cramps during pregnancy occur in the legs, but don’t be surprised if you find muscle spasms in your back, abdomen, feet or hands.
As an involuntary contraction, your muscle spasm or cramp occurs suddenly and is often accompanied by severe pain. The majority of expecting mothers report that their muscle cramps are experienced during the evening.
How to Prevent Muscle Cramps Naturally During Pregnancy
The first thing you should do is take action that helps you prevent muscle cramps while you are expecting. This is best accomplished by stretching, drinking lots of water, and getting essential minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Hopefully, you are successful at preventing muscle cramps while you are expecting, but if you need to alleviate the pain, there are steps you can take to treat your muscle cramps naturally during your pregnancy:
Stretching: It is important to stretch your muscles before your exercise and use them for long periods of time. However, stretching is also useful to help alleviate the cramp.
Massage: This is often the most used method to alleviate a cramp and reduce the pain associated with it. Massaging the cramping muscle and sometimes massaging neighboring muscles helps take away the cramp.
Add Heat: Heat can be applied to your cramping muscle using a heating pad, a microwaved heated cloth bag of rice, or some of the over-the-counter air-activated heating pads.
Epsom Salt: A warm bath can often alleviate the cramp and pain, but an Epsom salt bath is usually a little more effective. This helps you relax overall and it helps relieve the tension in your muscles.
Ice the Pain: You can wrap ice from the refrigerator or use an ice pack and apply to your cramping muscle. This cold often helps take away the pain associated with the cramping muscle.
Combination: Stretching and then massaging the muscle with either a heating pad or ice pack often work together to collectively stop the cramping and alleviate the pain.
If your muscle cramps remain frequent and do not respond to the above treatment, you should contact your healthcare provider. It is possible you are experiencing a separate medical condition that needs different medical attention.
How to Treat Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy When Naturally Doesn’t Work
More than likely, the natural remedies noted above will take care of your muscle cramps while you are expecting.
It is nice to know that this common discomfort has some natural remedies. However, for the unfortunate few who continue to experience frequent muscle cramps or severe pain associated with their muscle spasms, you may need additional medical attention.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe a comprehensive prenatal vitamin to help ensure you are getting the minerals and nutrients necessary.
Your provider may need to assess for nerve compression or inadequate blood supply. Your provider may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce or eliminate the pain.
Want to Know More?
- Pregnancy and Leg Cramps
- Role of Vitamin B in Pregnancy
- Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines
- Safe Exercise During a Multiples Pregnancy
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Ninth Ed. Scott, James R., et al, Ch. 1.
2. MedlinePlus, “Muscle Cramps,” National Institutes of Health
3. Mayo Clinic, Muscle Cramps
4. National Library of Medicine, “Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in pregnancy: impact on the fetus and newborn”