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Leg Cramps and Swelling: Why They Happen and How to Reduce Them


Leg cramps and swelling, though common, can be some of the most surprising and challenging discomforts experienced during pregnancy. As you navigate the myriad changes your body undergoes, understanding these symptoms can bring relief. As an obstetrician, I aim to shed light on the causes of these discomforts and provide actionable solutions.

Understanding the Causes

  • Leg Cramps: The exact cause is not always clear, but potential contributors include pressure from the growing uterus on the blood vessels, a buildup of lactic acid and calcium, and magnesium imbalances.
  • Swelling (or oedema): As the body retains more fluid during pregnancy and the growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic veins and the vena cava, it can result in swollen ankles, feet, and even hands.

Strategies to Reduce Leg Cramps and Swelling

  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. This can help flush out excess fluids and reduce cramping.
  • Elevate Your Feet: Whenever possible, prop up your feet. It can alleviate swelling by promoting fluid return to the heart.
  • Stretch Before Bed: Simple calf stretches before bedtime can help minimize cramps during the night.
  • Wear Supportive Shoes: Avoid tight shoes or high heels. Footwear with good arch support can make a difference.
  • Avoid Standing for Long Periods: If your job requires standing, try to move periodically and take frequent breaks to sit and elevate your feet.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet: Ensure you’re getting enough magnesium and calcium. Discuss supplements with your healthcare provider if needed.
  • Limit Salt Intake: Excessive salt can exacerbate swelling. Opt for natural herbs and spices for flavoring instead.
  • Move Regularly: Gentle exercises like walking or prenatal yoga can boost circulation and reduce fluid buildup.
  • Warm Baths: A lukewarm bath can not only soothe cramps but also reduce swelling.


While leg cramps and swelling can momentarily shadow the joys of pregnancy, with understanding and a few lifestyle adjustments, their impact can be minimized. Remember to tune into your body’s needs, and don’t hesitate to seek advice or assistance.

Your comfort and well-being during pregnancy are paramount. If you experience severe or persistent symptoms, always consult your healthcare provider. 

You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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