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How Can I Relieve My Pregnancy Leg Cramps?

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
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Now that I'm in my third trimester, I keep getting these painful cramps in my calves. Sometimes they even wake me up at night. What can I do to make them stop?

You're not alone — many pregnant women get these lower leg cramps, often in the middle of the night in their second and third trimesters.

Experts aren't sure what causes "charley horses" (the nonclinical name for painful cramps in your calf muscles). Although they can be extremely painful, charley horses are — luckily! — usually brief.

What might help:

  • Do calf stretches before bed to prevent the cramping. But make sure not to point your toes while stretching.
  • Straighten your leg and flex your foot when you get a cramp. A gentle massage of the calf may help relax the muscle.
  • Make sure you are drinking enough fluids during the day.
  • If cleared by your doctor, get regular exercise, which can help reduce cramps.

Talk to your doctor to see if extra calcium or magnesium could help you. But don’t take supplements without checking with the doctor first.

If the leg pain doesn't ease; is severe; or is accompanied by swelling, warmth, or redness in the leg or trouble walking, talk with your doctor right away.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021