Leg cramps

■ 2nd, 3rd trimesters Cramps in the lower leg muscles are fairly common in the second and third trimesters. They most frequently occur at night and may disrupt your sleep. Although the exact cause of leg cramps is unknown, slow blood return, fatigue or pressure from the uterus on nerves in your legs may cause the problem.

■ Prevention and self-care for leg cramps Here are some tips for relieving the discomfort of leg cramps or calf tenderness:

• Stretch the affected muscle. Try straightening your knee and gently flexing your foot upward.

• Walk. You may find it uncomfortable at first, but it helps relieve the cramping.

• Do exercises to stretch your calf muscles, particularly before bed.

• Wear support hose, especially if you stand a lot during the day.

• Take frequent breaks if you sit or stand for long periods.

• Massage your calves.

• Try resting with your legs up on pillows or the arm of a sofa.

• Wear shoes with low heels.

■ When to seek medical help for leg cramps

If leg cramps persist, talk to your health care provider. They might be caused by a circulation problem. Call him or her if you notice redness, swelling or an increase in pain or if you have a history of a blood-clotting disorder or thrombophlebitis, which is a blood clot and inflammation in a vein.

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