A few weeks back, I was stretching in bed – no not the regular exercise stretches but the lazy kind of stretch when you’re trying to brace yourself to get up out of bed. All of a sudden, I started cramping in my left calf. I managed to relieve it by flexing my foot and holding the position until the cramp subsided.
Leg cramps are apparently a normal symptom of pregnancy. According to March of Dimes, they can occur for the following reasons:
- Changes in blood circulation during pregnancy
- The stress on your leg muscles of carrying the extra weight of pregnancy
- The pressure of the growing baby on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs
It used to be thought that leg cramps were due to insufficient calcium in the diet and one of the recommendations to prevent leg cramps was to get enough calcium. Although it is still important that you get sufficient calcium in your diet during pregnancy, it is not longer believed that this is the cause of leg cramps.
The general recommendations for managing leg cramps are:
- Stretch. Stretching your legs (especially your calves) before going to bed can help reduce your chances of getting leg cramps. When you feel a cramp in your leg, straighten your leg—heel first—and wiggle your toes. Avoid pointing your toes when stretching or exercising.
- Avoid standing or sitting in one position for long periods of time. Avoid sitting in a position that may restrict blood flow (such as sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time).
- Exercise. Regular exercise, such as a daily walk, can help prevent leg cramps. (Always be sure to find out from your health care provider what exercises are safe for you and how long you can maintain your exercise program.) If you’re able to stand, walking for a few minutes when you have a leg cramp can help ease the pain and relax the muscle.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid getting dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water during the day.
- Massage your legs and apply heat. When you have a leg cramp, relax the muscle through gentle massage, or heat the muscle with a warm towel or hot water bottle. A warm bath before bedtime may also help to relax your muscles and prevent leg cramps.
Although leg cramps generally resolve themselves and are not a cause for concern, you should alert your doctor if:
- The pain is frequent and severe
- You notice any redness, warmth, swelling or tenderness in your leg
So far I have only experienced one incident of leg cramps but the other evening, I had the weirdest sensation in my butt. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear it was a butt cramp! Since you can’t really stretch your behind, I had to sit down for a while and wait for the cramp to subside on its own.
I’ve tried Googling butt cramps occurring during the third trimester to find out more but haven’t been able to find much about it. Other mothers report having butt cramps, but that’s about as far as the information goes. There was a comment that it might be due to sciatica, however based on what I’ve read about sciatica, it doesn’t sound likely.
“Sciatica is a symptom of a problem with the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. It controls muscles in the back of your knee and lower leg and provides feeling to the back of your thigh, part of your lower leg and the sole of your foot. When you have sciatica, you have pain, weakness, numbness or tingling. It can start in the lower back and extend down your leg to your calf, foot, or even your toes. It’s usually on only one side of your body.”
I also get the impression that it is possible that butt cramps are simply an extension of leg cramps radiating up to the butt. Either that or it might be related to the back pain I have been experiencing lately which has occurred earlier and more frequently than it did with my first. During the first pregnancy, I only had a bit of lower back pain during the third trimester. With this pregnancy, I have been experiencing lower back pain since I was six months pregnant. Not only have I had lumbar back pain, but I’ve also experienced posterior pelvic pain – something I didn’t get with the first pregnancy.
Presently, the symptoms are mild and still manageable but I figure it might be time to do a little bit of light exercise…