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How to prevent calf cramps during pregnancy?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary
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By drinking plenty of fluids and maintaining a diet rich in dairy products and legumes, seeds and nuts. Stimulating circulation in the legs with support stockings or through exercise or stretching can also help reduce the frequency of cramps.

The involuntary contractions of the calves (cramps) during pregnancy may be the result of a mineral imbalance in the blood. This imbalance may be caused by a lack of minerals in the diet or dehydration. A varied and balanced diet should help reduce their occurrence. For now, there is no evidence that supplementation with certain minerals (eg. magnesium) can prevent cramps.

During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the body is higher and, at the same time, the weight of the fetus puts pressure on certain blood vessels. As a result, traffic is worse in the legs. It is important to stimulate circulation to reduce the risk of calf cramps.

Wearing support stockings, physical activity (eg. walking), frequent stretches and massages of the calves are all good ways to help blood flow.

Apply heat to the calves or take a warm bath before bed to prevent the onset of cramps during the night.

WHAT TO DO WHEN CRAMPS OCCUR?

Stretch the calf: push the heel pulling the toes toward you. A massage can also make the pain disappear.

IN CONCLUSION, HOW TO PREVENT CRAMPS?

  • Consuming 3 servings of calcium-rich foods per day: milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
  • Eating foods rich in magnesium: legumes, nuts, green leafy vegetables (eg. spinach, chard), seeds, dark chocolate.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: make sure to drink at least 2 liters of fluid a day.
  • Move: daily walking stimulates the circulation in the legs.
  • Stretch!

References

  • Diététistes du Canada (2012). Sources alimentaires de magnésium. http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Magnesium.aspx
  • Hensley, J. G. (2009). Leg cramps and restless legs syndrome during pregnancy. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 54(3), 211-218
  • Miller, T. M., & Layzer, R. B. (2005). Muscle cramps. Muscle & nerve, 32(4), 431-442.
  • Nygaard, I. H., Valbø, A., Pethick, S. V., & Bøhmer, T. (2008). Does oral magnesium substitution relieve pregnancy-induced leg cramps? European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 141(1), 23-26.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.