Those nine months of pregnancy is a time of change in your life. Not only are you nurturing a little one within you, your body too is going through some major changes.
As the months start to pass, you may notice the constant presence of a nagging pain. In fact, as your body starts stretching and growing, you may feel the pain in different parts of your body. If you are worried about the pains, rest assured these are pregnancy cramps that are a natural process of your pregnancy.
What Are Cramps In Pregnancy?
Cramp is an involuntary temporary strong muscle contraction that causes severe pain. These may last for a few seconds to minutes. Are cramps normal during pregnancy? Yes, getting cramps is a normal part of pregnancy. However, getting severe cramps could be a cause of some concern. In case the problem persists and you continue to be in pain, urgent medical assistance is advised.
Causes Of Cramps:
Cramps can be caused due to a host of things during pregnancy. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- Dehydration in your body
- Weight gain
- Hormonal changes
- Urinary tract infection
- Round ligament pain
- Heart burn or indigestion
- Gall bladder stones
- Sexual intercourse
- Low potassium, magnesium and sodium
- Muscle fatigue
Most cramps will go away without any help, and sometimes, using a mild muscle relaxing spray can also do the trick (we strongly advise you check this with your doctor first though.)
Types Of Cramps During Pregnancy:
Pregnancy cramps may set in as early as the second month and will most likely be there till labor kicks in. Here are some cramps you may face through the trimesters:
- Cramps during pregnancy first trimester usually occur due to the changes in your uterus that lead to your baby’s development.
- During the second trimester, the uterus expands to its largest extent possible. This leads to more frequent abdominal cramps. Abdominal cramps may also happen as a sign of labor, especially in the third trimester.
- In your third trimester, leg cramps occur very often because of the extra weight that your body has gained by now. Your calf muscles are not used to handling so much weight. This is why the muscles contract, leading to painful cramps.
- The main thing to remember is that though cramps are a natural part of pregnancy, you should seek immediate medical assistance the moment you start feeling uncomfortable.
Here are the three main types of pains you may face during pregnancy:
1. Abdominal Pain:
If you experience abdominal pain, don’t panic right away. It is just a general reminder for you to watch what you eat. The pain might be mild or sharp and begins from the first trimester till the time of your labor.
- Abdominal pain can happen when there is a risk of premature birth. The pain increases suddenly and there are contractions, followed by back pain.
- Sometimes, back pain may bring symptoms like overall swelling on your face, puffiness in the eyes and edema caused due to preeclampsia (a disorder of changing blood vessels).
- Having existing gallstones (also called cholelithiasis; stones in gallbladder) during pregnancy can also give rise to abdominal pain.
- Abdominal pain can also get aggravated by eating foods that cause gas and a bloated feeling.
- However, severe abdominal pain may happen when there is a chance of miscarriage. This is symbolized by light or heavy bleeding.
2. Back Pain:
It’s good news if you experience back pain, because it means that your baby is growing! But this might give you bouts of pain as well. The symptoms of back pain are usually experienced in the second half of pregnancy. There are two common types of back pain that occur during pregnancy:
a. Lower Back Pain:
- This pain usually occurs above the waistline exactly at the centre of your back.
- It increases with prolonged postures like standing, sitting, etc.
b. Posterior or Pelvic Pain:
- This pain is four times more prevalent than lower back pain and is felt below the waistline.
- It may be experienced on both the sides of the waistline.
- This pain can extend down into the hips and at the back of the thighs.
- It is more likely to happen because of hormonal changes, muscle separation, weight gain and posture changes.
3. Leg Pain:
Leg pain, especially felt at night, starts to scourge you during your second trimester and gets worse as your pregnancy progresses.
- You may encounter leg pain because of your leg muscles that carry around all your extra weight.
- It may also happen due to compression of blood vessels in the legs, hormonal changes or lack of calcium and magnesium.
- Leg pain can interfere during night when you are planning for a good sleep. Hence, it is advisable to take a warm bath before you hit the bed to relax your muscles.
[ Read: Leg Pain During Pregnancy ]
25 Tips To Prevent Pains And Cramps During Pregnancy:
While these cramps are common, they can be lessened by following these tips appropriately:
1. Pain caused due to normal abdominal discomfort can be handled by increasing the mobility of your body or by doing low intensity exercise for few minutes. This definitely needs the approval of your doctor before you begin.
2. Lying down on a flat surface helps you to recognize your actual concern. Whenever you feel a cramp in your abdomen, lie down on a flat surface and try to feel where the pain is.
3. Applying a ‘hot water bag’ exactly where you feel pain can relieve your ache considerably. Make sure the bag is warm and not hot. Also, in case you start feeling any itchy, notice swelling and/or redness around the area where you placed the bag, stop immediately.
4. Sometimes, these pains are a result of dehydration. During pregnancy, your body requires extra amount of fluids. Have at least 8 glasses of water a day and more if you are in a hot climate.
5. Abdominal pain can be a signal of poor digestion. Follow a nutritious and healthy diet to avoid the same.
6. High intensity exercises can also lead to back pain. If you are exercising, stop and give your body some rest.
7. Sometimes, pain is caused due to gas or bloating. Prevent this by eliminating fermented food products from your diet.
8. For preventing leg cramps, avoid standing with your legs crossed for a longer time. Your correct standing posture is very necessary to avoid cramps in legs.
9. Regular stretching exercises will help to keep the calf muscles relaxed. Do this immediately after getting up in the morning and before sleeping to avoid mid night cramps. Also, make sure to stretch your calf before and after exercises. Again, this first needs to be confirmed by your doctor.
10. Avoid tiring activities because it can add extra strain on your calf muscles. This will result in contractions of the muscles causing you cramps.
11. Persistent pain in your legs due to cramps could be due to blood clotting. Seek immediate medical attention to get it checked.
12. Increase the blood circulation in the lower body. Try to lie down on your left side. This will provide enough blood supply to the calf muscles.
13. You can practice water aerobics or do prenatal yoga to stay away from the chances of getting cramps or pains during pregnancy.
14. Elevate your legs and keep them upright while sleeping. This will improve your blood circulation.
15. Get a prenatal massage to improve blood circulation and reduce swelling. Try wearing inner stockings to support your body in a correct manner and prevent cramps.
16. In order to prevent back pain, take care that you wear comfortable footwear. Wearing heels will increase the chances.
17. Use correct posture while exercising. Keep your back straight during squat exercises. Look for good support while sitting and place a pillow at your lower back to keep away your back pain.
18. Take proper 8 hours’ sleep. The weight of your womb may add a strain on your back muscles adding to back pain.
19. Try to keep a soft pillow between your legs while sleeping. This will prevent cramps and pains.
20. Whenever you sit, keep your back straight and elevate your feet on a stool or bench.
21. You should take magnesium supplements in order to relieve cramps in addition to prenatal vitamin supplements.
22. It is said that cramps occur due to lack of calcium in your body. For that you should take calcium supplements which also heal the contractions in the muscles.
23. Before you head to bed, stand about two feet away from a wall and put your palms flat against it. Lean forward, keeping your heels on the floor. Hold the stretch for ten seconds and relax for five. Try this three times.
24. When you feel like cramps are going to occur just stand flat on the cold surface. This will reduce your spasm.
25. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes all the micro vitamins and minerals as well.
These were some of the tips that can help you lessen your cramps in pregnancy. But always remember that:
- Before taking any kind of supplements, consult your doctor, as a wrong decision may cause harm to both you and your unborn baby.
- If you experience vaginal cramping, discharge, bleeding accompanied by dizziness, doctor’s advice should be sought.
- If you encounter any kind of severe pain or abdominal pain, accompanied by a contraction, get in contact with your doctor right away.
We wish you a safe and healthy delivery. All the best!
Don’t forget to share your views with us:
- 8 Most Effective Ways To Relieve Hip Pain During Pregnancy
- How To Reduce Breast Pain During Pregnancy?
- Back Pain During Pregnancy – 5 Causes And 11 Treatments
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