Leg Cramps/charlie Horse in Third Trimester

Updated on August 13, 2010
H.H. asks from Oklahoma City, OK
16 answers

Is this just one of the many indignities of late stage pregnancy... or is this a sign of some deficiency in my diet? Had one in my calf this morning (at like 5:30 am on a Saturday, thanks very much!) that literally had me out of bed crying... help!

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answers from Dover on

I had them with my first pregnancy but not my second. I woke up out of a dead sleep once feeling like someone had stabbed BOTH my legs at once. The next morning, I couldn't walk. I had some say it was a potassium deficiency (it could be) but my doctor said an aluminum deficiency. He said eating bananas (which I hate) could help or chewing regular Malox chewables. It did and it helped.

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answers from Houston on

I had them with my 2nd pregnancy, but not the 1st or 3rd. Oddly enough, this was my only pregnancy that I was not sick with HG the whole pregnancy! The only pregnancy that I could take my prenatals and EAT! Nothing helped me as far as bananas, supplements, etc. My husband just knew if I started hitting him he better start rubbing my legs and QUICK! I really think they are one of the most painful things ever. Good luck! I LOVE bananas, I really wish they would have helped!

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answers from York on

COMPETLY NORMAL!, I use to jump out of bed in pain. Your belly is cutting off circulation to you leg, but it is very normal.

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answers from Chicago on

H. -
I had those so many times with both my pregnancies.
Sleeping with elevated legs help. I used to put pillows under my feet.
When this happens ,try to put your legs in a position where your toes points your tummy.
Good Luck

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answers from Kansas City on

I was told it was a calcium deficiency. I guess you should just get some slimfast or other meal replacement with lots of vitamins and drink it between meals. That should cover all the bases :) Congrats on your baby to be.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Leg cramps are caused from a your potassium being too low. Usually eating a banana a day will help also dark leafy greens will also help. It's not from calcium def.

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answers from Topeka on

There are SO many theories out there about why this happens....
Dehydration...so keep your water intake up
Calcium Deficiency....double up on your calcium tablets or eat the tums with calcium
Potassium deficiency....Have a banana every morning with your breakfast
But the most useful thing that i discovered was how to prevent it from getting so bad....when the cramp starts ( or when you get ready to stretch your legs in bed, which is what usually started my leg cramps!!)...be sure that you point your toes upwards...as if you were pointing at your head....not downwards, as if you were going to stand on your toes like a ballerina!!! For some reason that keeps the cramps from getting a real grip on you!!!
Good luck...and congratulations on your upcoming new arrival!!!

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answers from St. Cloud on

I had these during my first two pregnancies as well. (So bad I would cry...) Then with the third pregnancy I purchased Leg Cramp Ointment (orange tube) from a company called Azure Standard. (azurestandard.com) WORKS WONDERS! As soon as they start I rub this cream on and it stops! And they come less frequently then with the other two pregnancies.

This company sells organic and all natural products so you would probably be able to find this at your local grocery store in the organic/natural section as well.

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answers from Kansas City on


i get them when i am dehydrated mostly, which is likely the cause of yours if you are at the end of your pregnancy. (assuming you're taking a prenatal vitamin). i get them whether i am pregnant or not. and yes, they are devastating! several times, i have woken myself up moaning from the pain lol. poor mom! hang in there. and drink more water!



answers from Cincinnati on

leg cramps can be a sign of dehydration or an imbalance of calcium and/or potassium it is also part of pregnancy ((Leg cramps. Pressure from your uterus on the veins returning blood from your legs may cause leg cramps, especially at night. Stretch the affected muscle or walk your way through the cramps. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy/PR00018). obviously talk to your OB before taking anything for it

i find with leg cramps if i pull my toes up towards my knee it gives me relief right away - but i still feel achy from the cramp)

good luck!


answers from Dallas on

I had these bad with my second pregnancy. Once it was so bad, I couldn't drive myself to the hospital hours after it happened and could barely walk the entire day. I went out and purchased bananas and a large carton of OJ with added calcium and never had one again the entire pregnany, or with any pregnancies after that one because I knew now to increase my potassium and OJ/calcium. I was almost terrified to fall asleep after the really bad episode but I guess the bananas and OJ did the job since they never came back. There is also a stretch you can do to stretch the calf muscles that works great. Stand against a wall using your arms to support yourself while leaning on the wall, keep your arms placed on the wall and back away from the wall with your feet, so you're basically leaning into the wall and it stretches the muscles very well. Good luck, hope you don't get them again!!



answers from Tampa on

I had these terribly in my first pregnancy, probably once a night. The best thing to manage for me was to sleep with my legs outstretched as far as they could go, and then if I got a charlie horse, the best way to manage it, I have found, is to immediately start rubbing it. Before, I would try to stretch it or wiggle my calf around, once I started rubbing it immediately, it seemed to not last as long and be less painful.



answers from Sacramento on

Oh, I know what you are going through. I used to get cramps in both my calves at the same time, usually one would start and then the other would chime in. So, I would point my toes skyward to stretch my calves out, and my shins would cramp up...that was the worst! haha, I had no where to stretch!

Dehydration, calcium/magnesium/zinc and potatssium can all be related to it as can sitting in a closed position. Make sure you drink plenty of water, eat your green veggies and whole grains. If you can eat dairy, have some cottage cheese. Talk to your doctor about which suppliments and amounts to take and take time to stretch and walk about. Be sure not to sit in a reclining position or with crossed legs for to long.

Also, if you would like to know which foods have specific vitamins or minerals and such, check out nutritiondata.com actually, I think they are nutritiondata.self.com now. You can look up foods to see what they have, or you can look up foods by content of specific componants, like foods high in calcium, or foods low in saturated fat and so on. There is a lot to the site, but it is fantastic.

Hang in there!



answers from Tulsa on

Totally normal. When I was laying in bed, sleepy, wanting to stretch, I learned to stretch by flexing my feet instead of pointing my toes. If I pointed my toes, I would inevitably get a cramp. Also eat bananas and drink plenty of water! Of course you'll be peeing every 30 min, but oh well!! The joys of pregnancy! :)



answers from Austin on

Had problem every pregnancy with this. DO NOT take tums or anti acids for calcium. It is the wrong type of calcium and ages the placenta. Do take a calcium citrate supplement. AND as soon as the cramp starts, point (or have your husband grab your toes and point) your toes towards your nose. If they won't move and your husband isn't available: flex your foot by getting out of bed use the floor to help you flex...don't point the foot.



answers from Baton Rouge on

It's a defiency and the fastest way to rid one is a shot(amount of volume of liquid in a shot that you'd do at a bar, not an injection) of vinegar.
Since vinegar is not pleasing to all, pickle juice works the same. Have shot a day and the Charlie horses should stay away but especially have one right when one hits and voilà. It goes away.

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