By the word “cramp,” most people mean involuntary contractions or muscle spasms of the lower limbs, accompanied by sharp pain. This condition we usually describe everyday phrase: “Leg cramped!”. The most frequent reason for the occurrence of such sensations are either excessive exercise or wearing uncomfortable shoes.
Such “convulsions” are considered physiological and do not represent a cause for concern. In addition, each of us knows that if you walk 10 kilometers without preparation or dance the whole evening in stilettos, then in the middle of the night caviar and fingers can express their indignation to us.
Pregnant women, too, often neglect common sense, make both of these mistakes and condemn themselves to regular torment. However, within 9 months there may be specific reasons for the development of seizures.
For a start, it will be useful for the expectant mother to find out that doctors use the same term in a completely different way to designate an alarming symptom that indicates serious diseases of the nervous system (for example, epilepsy) or eclampsia, a severe stage of gestosis. Such “real” convulsions affect not only and not so much the legs, but often the whole body. However, at the initial stage of the disease they are easily confused with minor muscle twitches, which are caused by physical or nervous overstrain, even in healthy people.
For this reason, it is important to treat convulsions of any nature responsibly and tell the doctor about them. Especially it is worth guarding if they appeared in the facial muscles or increased in the second half of pregnancy.
In this case, additional tests will be required to eliminate eclampsia.
The physiology of muscle contraction is based on complex biochemical processes occurring in the cells of our body and controlled by the nervous system. In order for the muscles to work smoothly, they must receive a certain amount of calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium and vitamins of group B every day. If these substances are not enough, a spasm occurs, which leads to convulsive contractions.
During pregnancy, additional conditions may arise for the violation of mineral metabolism. Deficiency of important trace elements can start due to unbalanced nutrition. So, many modern women have a pathological fear of overweight and go on a diet even in an “interesting position”.
This should not be done primarily for the health of the baby, and at the same time to avoid seizures. On the same basis, vegetarianism is contraindicated during pregnancy: group B vitamins are fully contained only in meat.
Another pernicious tendency is not to spare yourself at work, and if, during pregnancy, you do not avoid strong nervous or mental stress, magnesium — the key substance for the nervous system — will be consumed very quickly.
Loss of vitamins and beneficial macro and micronutrients can also provoke frequent vomiting due to toxicosis of the first half of pregnancy. In this case, you will need to consult a doctor and, possibly, inpatient treatment.
A balanced diet, good rest and a reasonable work schedule before maternity leave will help prevent mineral metabolism disorders. To eliminate the deficit, in addition to the vitamin-mineral complex, an obstetrician-gynecologist may additionally prescribe a drug containing magnesium and vitamins of group B.
Natural changes occurring in the body of a pregnant woman also have the appearance of “cramps”. Due to hormonal adjustment, progesterone and relaxin levels increase, which have a relaxing effect on the muscle wall of the veins.
In parallel, the volume of circulating blood increases (from an average of 4 liters to 5). Under these conditions, its outflow through the veins from the bottom up worsens automatically. As a result, there is stagnation of blood, because of which the supply of important substances to the muscles is reduced, there is a spasm, and after it – “convulsions.”
But there is another danger. The greater the volume of blood, the stronger the load on the heart and blood vessels. At their long and excessively active operation, the walls and valves of the veins can suffer.
If this happens, varicose veins will develop (in 70–90% of women, it is first manifested during pregnancy).
Not only valves in the veins, but also the muscles of the lower limbs help to pump blood from the bottom up: they contract, working as a pump. However, under the weight of the gained kilograms it is more difficult for them to perform this function.
Muscles get tired faster, and overvoltage do not receive enough minerals, so cramps occur more often.
Preventive measures can prevent undesirable effects. So, if the expectant mother before the conception was in the risk group for the development of varicose disease (for example, was overweight or spider veins), the doctor could advise her to wear compression knitwear at the planning stage of the baby.
During pregnancy, a consultation of a phlebologist will certainly be required. If necessary, he will help you choose the right degree of compression and the optimal model: stockings, pantyhose or socks.
Without a doctor’s appointment, wearing a knitwear is impossible.
For a difficult period for the veins, it is better to abandon the studs and choose only comfortable shoes with a steady heel no higher than 5 cm and with a wide nose: tight shoes impair circulation. It is equally important to constantly maintain the muscles of the legs in good shape. To do this, you need to choose adequate physical activity: walking, swimming.
In static sitting and standing positions, less time should be spent, otherwise stasis in the veins is guaranteed.