Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are muscle spasms that usually occur in your calves.  There is a tendency for muscle spasms throughout your lower extremities but in general they occur more commonly in your calf muscles.

What causes leg cramps during pregnancy?

Leg cramps may occur for different reasons, but one of the reasons that experts believe pregnant women experience more leg cramps is because of a reduction in diffusible serum calcium or an elevation of serum phosphorus.  Additionally, there are reports that suggest that leg cramps may also be triggered by fatigue or pressure from the uterus on nerves that lead to your legs.

When do leg cramps occur during pregnancy?

Leg cramps are more common at night and they are more likely to occur during the third trimester.

How frequently do leg cramps occur?

Almost half of all pregnant women experience muscle spasms in their lower extremities and most noticeably in their calves. 

Sources:

Cunningham, F., MD; Leveno, K., MD; Bloom, S., MD; Hauth, J., MD; Gilstrap, L., MD; and Wenstrom, K., MD, Williams Obstetrics 22nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York, 2005.

Duff, P., MD, Edwards, R., MD, Davis, J., MD, Rhoton-Vlasak, A., MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology: Just the Facts, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2004.

Scott, J., MD; Gibbs, R., MD; Karlan, B., MD; and Haney, A., MD, Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, 9th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2003.

Crombleholme, W., MD, “Obstetrics,” Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2003, 42nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.

DeCherney, A., MD, and Nathan, L., MD, Current Obstetric & Gynecologic Diagnosis & Treatment, 9th; McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.

Harms, R., MD, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, HarperResource, New York, 2004.

Bankowski, B. MD., Hearne, A. MD, Lambrou, N. MD, Fox, H. MD, and Wallach, E. MD, The Johns Hopkins Manual of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2nd ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia, 2002.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth, 3rd ed., ACOG, Washington DC, 2000.

Beck, W., MD, Obstetrics and Gynecology, B.I. Waverly Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi, 1997.

Johnson, R., MD, Mayo Clinic Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year, William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1994.