Leg Cramps in Pregnancy & More [Case Study of 248 Mums]

Case Studies

Did you know that 50% of moms get leg cramps in pregnancy and (for most) it starts happening in the second trimester.

At Cadenshae we surveyed 248 moms about how their legs (from the hip down) were affected by cramps, pain, swelling and symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) during pregnancy. Including when it affected them, how they went about alleviating them and more. This is what we discovered.

Let’s dive right in.

What’s in this case study:

  1. LEG CRAMPS IN PREGNANCY
  2. When do leg cramps start during pregnancy?
  3. When do leg cramps stop during pregnancy?
  4. How to relieve leg cramps during pregnancy?
  5. Words of advice from experienced moms
  6. SWOLLEN LEGS IN PREGNANCY
  7. Why do legs swell in pregnancy?
  8. When does leg swelling in pregnancy start?
  9. When does leg swelling in pregnancy stop?
  10. How to relieve swollen legs during pregnancy?
  11. Words of advice from experienced moms
  12. How to tell if your legs are swollen during pregnancy?
  13. LEG PAIN IN PREGNANCY
  14. When does leg pain start to occur during pregnancy?
  15. When do moms stop getting leg pain during pregnancy?
  16. How to relieve leg pain during pregnancy?
  17. Words of advice from experienced moms
  18. SPD IN PREGNANCY
  19. What is SPD during pregnancy?
  20. How many moms experience SPD?
  21. What helps to alleviate SPD?
  22. Words of advice from experienced moms
  23. SPD pregnancy symptoms
  24. Final words of encouragement from other moms.

      1. LEG CRAMPS IN PREGNANCY

      50% of moms get leg cramps during pregnancy.

      2. When do leg cramps start during pregnancy?

      • 6% of moms start to get leg cramps in the first trimester.
      • 27% of moms start to get leg cramps in the second trimester.
      • 15% of moms start to get leg cramps in the third trimester.
      • 2% of moms start to get leg cramps in the fourth trimester.
      • 50% of moms don’t get leg cramps during pregnancy.

          When do leg cramps start during pregnancy

          3. When do leg cramps stop during pregnancy?

            • 0% of women with leg cramps in pregnancy saw the cramping stop in the first trimester.
            • 1% of women with leg cramps in pregnancy saw the cramping stop in the second trimester.
            • 18% of women with leg cramps in pregnancy saw the cramping stop in the third trimester.
            • 59% of women with leg cramps in pregnancy saw the cramping stop in the fourth trimester.
            • 22% of women with leg cramps in pregnancy saw the cramping stop after the fourth trimester.

                When do leg cramps stop during pregnancy

                4. How to relieve leg cramps during pregnancy?

                According to the mothers we surveyed the following remedies helped to alleviate or prevent leg cramps during their pregnancies.

                • 29% Magnesium.
                • 19% Stretching and drinking plenty of water.
                • 17% Massage.
                • 8%   Nothing.
                • 7%   Exercise.
                • 7%   Giving birth.
                • 6%   Rest.
                • 5%   Compression.
                • 1%   Epsom salts.
                • 1%   Pickles.

                    5. Words of advice from experienced moms:

                    “Bananas and magnesium.”

                    “Magnesium, exercise and water.”

                    “Nothing... ahhhh they’re the worst for me!!!”

                    “Magnesium and not being pregnant.”

                    “Magnesium and cramp stop spray.”

                    “Taking magnesium really helped to decrease the leg cramps!”

                    “Drink lots of water and have Epsom salt baths.”

                    “Compression tights and light exercise.”

                    “Magnesium oil, sufficient water intake, stretching.”

                    “They were often when I was asleep and would stop by itself.”

                    “They were very random, mostly at night. So nothing that I know of.”

                    “I still get leg cramps sometimes but I find drinking lots of water helps to alleviate them.”

                    6. SWOLLEN LEGS IN PREGNANCY

                    63% of moms get swollen legs during pregnancy.

                    7. Why do legs swell in pregnancy?

                    Swelling in the legs when you are pregnant is due to your lymphatic system being overloaded with a buildup of fluid caused by the body producing more blood and fluid than usual to supply the growing baby. Compression, light exercise and elevating your feet helps the fluid flow back to the lymphatic nodes so that it can drain away.

                    8. When does leg swelling in pregnancy start?

                    • 1% of moms start to get swollen legs in the first trimester.
                    • 11% of moms start to get swollen legs in the second trimester.
                    • 40% of moms start to get swollen legs in the third trimester.
                    • 11% of moms start to get swollen legs in the fourth trimester.
                    • 37% of moms don’t get swollen legs during pregnancy.

                    When does leg swelling in pregnancy start

                    9. When does leg swelling in pregnancy stop?

                    • 0% of women with swollen legs in pregnancy saw the swelling stop in the first trimester.
                    • 0% of women with swollen legs in pregnancy saw the swelling stop in the second trimester.
                    • 6% of women with swollen legs in pregnancy saw the swelling stop in the third trimester.
                    • 65% of women with swollen legs in pregnancy saw the swelling stop in the fourth trimester.
                    • 29% of women with swollen legs in pregnancy saw the swelling stop after the fourth trimester.

                    When does leg swelling in pregnancy stop

                    10. How to relieve swollen legs and feet during pregnancy?

                    Moms use a lot of different methods to reduce and/or prevent swollen legs and feet during pregnancy. From the 248 moms we surveyed, we asked what treatments worked for them and provided the results for you below.

                    • 66% Elevation, compression, rest and/or ice packs/cold water.
                    • 16% Giving birth.
                    • 6%   Light - moderate exercise.
                    • 5%   Nothing.
                    • 3%   Massage.
                    • 1%   Reduced salt intake.
                    • 1%   Drinking more water.
                    • 1%   Wheat pack.
                    • 1%   Resting a pillow in between the legs.

                    11. Words of advice from experienced moms:

                    “The swelling will go down!”

                    “Have compression socks and leggings ready directly after delivery.”

                    “Just letting moms know that your feet swell after pregnancy as well, I didn’t know this and got a big surprise.”

                    “Nothing at all helped me, I swell like a balloon and have with all my kiddies.”

                    “The swelling wasn't very severe so it didn't bother me.”

                    “Maternity leggings relieved the swelling in my legs. Especially the calves.”

                    “Having the baby meant I lost all the water weight that caused the swelling.”

                    “Cool water, elevation, correct shoes (sketchers are the best if you are standing a lot!).”

                    “Compression socks, compression leggings, elevating my feet on pillows, spearmint essential oils, foot bath in Epsom salt.”

                    “I have had minor swelling in my legs and feet at a few points in the third trimester. I find the swelling is better when I have a healthy diet and do moderate/light exercise (it gets worse after high impact exercise in pregnancy).”

                    “Nothing really, it was inevitable I guess. Just put my feet up & rested them.”

                    “Walking, hormones settling, elevating legs, and postpartum diuresis.”

                    “Light exercise, elevated legs, wearing supportive shoes and tights.”

                    “Buckets of ice and elevation.”

                    12. How to tell if your legs or feet are swollen during pregnancy?

                    The most common symptoms of swollen legs during pregnancy include:

                    • Fluid retained under the skin,
                    • Puffy legs, ankles or feet,
                    • Leg pain,
                    • Numbness,
                    • Redness,
                    • Itching.

                    13. LEG PAIN IN PREGNANCY (including the hips)

                    82% of moms get some form of leg pain during pregnancy.

                    14. When does leg pain start to occur during pregnancy?

                    • 9% of moms start to get leg pain in the first trimester.
                    • 39% of moms start to get leg pain in the second trimester.
                    • 30% of moms start to get leg pain in the third trimester.
                    • 4% of moms start to get leg pain in the fourth trimester.
                    • 18% of moms don’t get leg pain during pregnancy.

                    When does leg pain start to occur during pregnancy

                    15. When do moms stop getting leg or hip pain during pregnancy?

                    • 0% of women with leg pain in pregnancy saw the pain stop in the first trimester.
                    • 1% of women with leg pain in pregnancy saw the pain stop in the second trimester.
                    • 6% of women with leg pain in pregnancy saw the pain stop in the third trimester.
                    • 52% of women with leg pain in pregnancy saw the pain stop in the fourth trimester.
                    • 41% of women with leg pain in pregnancy saw the pain stop after the fourth trimester.

                      When do moms stop getting leg or hip pain during pregnancy

                      16. How did moms relieve their leg pain during pregnancy?

                      • 19% Exercise and/or stretching
                      • 18% Massage
                      • 14% Rest
                      • 14% Giving birth
                      • 10% Compression/belly support
                      • 9%   Heat packs and/or baths
                      • 6%   Nothing
                      • 5%  Physiotherapy, Osteotherapy or Chirotherapy
                      • 2%  Magnesium oil/supplements
                      • 1%  Better shoes
                      • 1%  Baby moving position

                      17. Words of advice from experienced moms:

                      “Avoid standing for long periods of time.”

                      “Stretching, strength exercises and movement.”

                      “Nothing but resting when it was at its worst for me!”

                      “My baby moved position and it just went away. Phew!”

                      “Over the bump, maternity leggings helped hold belly up and the pressure off my hips.”

                      “I had acupuncture regularly in my third trimester. She did cupping on my hips and I found it extremely helpful.”

                      “I wore leggings with my second pregnancy and not with my first and my legs pain wasn’t nearly as bad, however, the belly band was too tight during pregnancy, but loved the tightness postpartum.”

                      “Giving birth. Seriously no joke. I gave birth and my leg troubles were over!”

                      “Massages, good shoes. It was summer when I was pregnant so I wore Birkenstocks.”

                      “I’m in my last week of the third trimester and still get hip pain. I find comfortable clothing and baths helps the hip pain.”

                      “Mine was pelvic pain. Laying on my side with a pillow between legs was comfortable until I had to try and roll over. Sitting up straight was also ok.”

                      “I had a lot of L&D complications so I had a lot of pain afterwards. I just needed time to heal mostly.”

                      “Baths and osteopathy during pregnancy. Yoga/stretching postpartum along with osteopathy.”

                      “Light exercise and stretching along with pool sessions.”

                      “Compression, pelvic floor exercises and relative rest.”

                      18. SPD IN PREGNANCY (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)

                      From the 248 mothers we surveyed, 23% of them experienced SPD.

                      19. What is SPD during pregnancy?

                      SPD occurs when the weight of the baby puts pressure onto your pelvis causing swelling and pain in the symphysis pubis joint which puts your pelvis out of line. SPD can get really painful and even feel as though your pelvis is breaking, especially when you walk.

                      20. How many moms experience SPD?

                      • 23% of pregnant women experience SPD.
                      • 77% of pregnant women do not experience SPD.

                      How many moms experience SPD

                      21. What helps to alleviate SPD?

                      • 64% Pelvic floor exercises and/or support/compression of the belly and hips. (Includes seeing a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor).
                      • 20% Rest
                      • 14% Nothing
                      • 2%   Stretching

                      According to the number of moms we surveyed that were affected by SPD the most common methods for helping them deal with SPD was regular pelvic floor exercises, a layer of support and light compression to help lift the belly up and reduce the pressure on the pelvis.

                      The range of things that these moms use to support their belly and hips are:

                      • Belly bands,
                      • Maternity leggings with built-in compression panel,
                      • Sacroiliac joint belts,
                      • Physio belts,
                      • Tubigrip.

                      Another aspect to be aware of is that it is important not to overtrain the pelvic floor muscles either as they can become too strong and could prevent you from pushing the baby out effectively as pregnancy exercise expert Lorraine Scapens found out first hand with her first pregnancy.

                      Although it is extremely easy to find information online in this day and age, care should be taken when searching for advice online. Be sure to put time into finding the most experienced sources on any topic you want to educate yourself about. Accomplished experts such as Lorraine Scapens with well over 20 years experience and the qualifications to back it up are extremely valuable sources of information, so the time and effort you spend researching are well worth it! And always seek professional advice from your midwife or doctor.

                      22. Words of advice from experienced moms:

                      “Assuming I could “do it all” despite having SPD in my first pregnancy, I no doubt caused myself more pain by trying to do too much with the condition. So my first bit of advice was absolutely you can “do it all”... but the first priority is to be well and fit for you and your baby’s sake. So don’t be “too proud”. In my 2nd pregnancy while I had some SPD symptoms I managed the condition with regular osteopathy. Postpartum I had severe lower back pain for some time, the cause of which was tight hip flexors (no doubt caused by the pelvic instability from SPD). Keeping up monthly osteopathy and undertaking yoga (but any stretching would help) was helpful in resolving it.”

                      “Start wearing a Tubigrip (as well as the leggings) as soon as you feel symptoms of SPD.”

                      “Not much helped me! It was horrible.”

                      “Avoid single leg loading.”

                      “My SPD kicked in really early at 24 weeks and affected my hips and sacroiliac joint as well - knowing that there are products out there with slight compression etc that can help was awesome.”

                      “Chirotherapy and stretching.”

                      “Stretching helped. I couldn't find a comfy belly band.”

                      “Support belt, physio and modified movement.”

                      “Don’t buy belts because someone told you too - they should be discussed with your physio because they are often inappropriate and worn incorrectly.”

                      “Correct sleeping positions. Slowing down.”

                      “A belly band and pelvic floor physiotherapy.”

                      “Pregnancy pilates and being conscious of walking symmetrical.”

                      “Physiotherapy - exercise, education, modifying movements and SIJ belt.”

                      “Not a lot. Tried chiro and osteo but nothing helped until I had the baby.”

                      “Taking extreme care to always sit and stand in balanced positions and physio.”

                      “Physical therapy, swimming, modifying how I do certain activities such as getting dressed.”

                      “I had to be sedentary when it was sore but while working out, I just needed to be mindful and I also used a belly belt.”

                      “Trying to rest, I only had it with baby number three and thought I was broken. I cut back on the exercise and listen to the mom bod.”

                      “I didn’t get my Cadenshae leggings until postpartum but they would have been amazing and I wish I’d had them during. I found all the support belts for SPD really uncomfortable but my leggings would have been a good level of support.”

                      “Keeping weight equally on both legs. Avoiding walking. Swimming with a pool buoy between legs (no kicking) was my only exercise.”

                      23. SPD pregnancy symptoms

                      The most common symptoms of SPD is a lot of pain in the groin, pubic area or pelvis.

                      This can also include:

                      • Back and or hip pain.  
                      • Friction in your pelvis.
                      • Increased pain when walking or movements that involve activating the muscles on the inside of your legs.

                        SPD is very painful and can affect your labour so be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor about your symptoms to help manage your SPD in pregnancy.

                        24. Final words of encouragement from other moms

                        “You need to try a few things to work out what works best for you.”

                        “If something doesn't feel right seek help and don't be scared to get a second opinion.”

                        “Listen to your body. If something hurts don't push it.”

                        “Staying active helped me so much this time.”

                        “KEEP MOVING MAMAS! You know your body so make sure you listen to it but you gotta keep active!”

                        “Wear clothes that are comfortable and you feel good in. Buy maternity pants if you need them!”

                        “Positioning is important, strengthening and keeping active is important.”

                        “Comfort over pressure is always a bonus.”

                        “Make sure to get good supportive leggings early on not just fancy brands that are see-through and no support. Find good support for postpartum too.”

                        “Seek help from a professional, you don’t need to be in pain just because you’re pregnant.”

                        “Don’t buy belts because someone told you too - they should be discussed with your physio because they are often inappropriate and worn incorrectly.”

                        “Leggings with the bump support are so so so helpful when walking lots or working out.”

                        “I had acupuncture regularly in my third trimester. She did cupping on my hips and I found it extremely helpful”

                        “Don’t wait as I did, buy a pair of pregnancy leggings as soon as!”

                        “Tights with the compression panel for post birth really helped me.”

                        “See a Physio or registered massage therapist for help with pre and postnatal pains, symptoms.”

                        “Pregnancy is beautiful and challenging. As my body went through so many changes the past 39 weeks, the Cadenshae leggings helped me to feel great as they are beautiful, hug your body the perfect way tights should. They make being active throughout pregnancy fashionable and comfortable!”

                         

                        maternity-leggings