Cramps During Pregnancy

It’s the middle of the night, you’ve finally gotten comfortable, you don’t need to get up and go to the bathroom and then it hits. CRAMP! That sharp spasm pain in the calf that can radiate up through the legs and that needs to be stretched now.  Starting in the second trimester, around the 19 week mark, cramps are a common occurrence for most pregnant women.

It’s hard to say why they occur, with theories ranging from:

-fatigue

-pregnancy weight and swelling

-compression of main vein returning the blood from the legs

-changes in diet, with the loss of key electrolytes (Magnesium or calcium specifically)

-decreased exercise

-pregnancy hormones
When the cramps occur, the best thing to do is to stretch it out as quickly as possible.  Think about pulling your toes up, flexing your foot as hard as you can.  But prevention is better than a cure! If you are starting to get cramps, try and follow these tips:

* Stretch.  Gentle calf stretches, like you would do in the gym, one foot forward with the knee bent and the other foot back, keeping the leg straight.  You can do this as often as you like, generally holding for 30 seconds.

* Calf pumps.  My favourite way to do this is off the edge of a step, thinking about alternately dropping and lifting the heels like you are walking on the spot.

* Drink lots of water as dehydration can lead to the imbalances of electrolytes. You can avoid it in the last 1-2hours before the end of the day to hopefully stop needing to get up at night.

* Try and eat a balanced diet, including calcium and magnesium if you can tolerate it.  You dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are great sources of these minerals.  Otherwise this is a great excuse to eat chocolate, another good source of magnesium!

If the pain in the calf remains constant or if you notice any swelling redness or tenderness contact your GP, obstetrician or midwife as in rare cases it may be a blood clot. If you have questions regarding calves and cramping feel free to ask your friendly Physio’s at Bend + Mend in Sydney’s CBD, we see lots of pregnant ladies both for physiotherapy treatment and in our Pregnancy Pilates Classes.

 

2 Comments

  1. Huong Tang
    August 22, 2017

    Dear Bend and Mend

    I’m expecting my first baby in Oct/Nov and am researching women’s physiotherapy services.

    I am interested in getting a thorough examination of my pelvic floor and abdominal muscle structures before and after birth so that I can understand the changes during pregnancy and how I can best address any deterioration after birth.

    Could you please let me know if you provide these services and have any other recommended services and also an estimate of your fees?

    Thank you.

    Regards
    Huong

    Reply
    • Bonnie Broomfield
      August 24, 2017

      Hi Huong,

      Thank you for your comment. My name is Bonnie and I am the Women’s Health Physio at Bend and Mend Physiotherapy. Congratulations on your pregnancy. I can definitely help you with these services.

      We offer a 1 hour initial consultation which includes taking a thorough history of any concerns you may have in regards to your pelvic floor, pre- and post-natal care, bladder/bowel function, gynaecological history and medical history. If you would like a thorough examination of your pelvic floor and surrounding structures then I would recommmend an internal examination. However, this will depend on the stage of your pregnancy at the time of your consultation and if there are any reasons why this may not be appropriate for you. In this consultation I can also assess your abdominal separation. After the examination we can then discuss an appropriate treatment plan for you. This may include advice for pre- and post-natal care regarding the changes during pregnancy, appropriate exercises (e.g. home exercises, pilates etc.), appropriate support devices (e.g. abdominal binders, shorts etc.), a post-natal women’s health assessment and any other relevant information.

      Other services you may consider pre-natally may be pre-natal pilates. It’s never too late to start some strengthening and a lot of research supports this for pre-natal women. In addition we offer post-natal pilates for appropriate return to exercise.

      Please see our fees below:

      Women’s Health Services:
      – Women’s Health Initial Assessment (1 hour) $170
      – Women’s Health Follow Up Consultation (45 mins) $150

      Pilates Services (Pre- and Post-Natal):
      – Initial Pilates Assessment (45 mins) $130
      – One-on-one Pilates Session (45 mins) $130
      – Pilates Classes (45 mins, max. 4 people) $55 per class

      If you have any further questions or would like to organise an initial consultation then please feel free to email me at bb@bendandmend.com.au or call me on (02) 9232 5566.

      Bonnie Broomfield

      Reply

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