Alot of Mummas like myself have had the displeasure of jolting awake in the middle of the night suffering from a dreaded leg cramp. While they are very common in pregnancy, usually beginning in the second trimester around 18-20 weeks and lasting until birth, (mostly striking at night in the lower limbs), there are a few things you can do to reduce their frequency or even alleviate them altogether. 

What are cramps? Commonly when we exercise a build up of lactic acid makes our muscles contract and cause a cramp, but what about during pregnancy? While no-one knows the exact cause of these type of cramps during pregnancy, doctors believe that it is linked to dehydration and a change in mineral levels. It is also thought that as your pregnancy progresses and you grow heavier the extra weight the legs carry may trigger cramps. Another factor to consider is that the uterus lays on the major vein that returns blood to the heart. The increased weight in the growing uterus slows this process leading to heavy sluggish limbs prone to cramping.

During the second and third trimester your body will prioritise the development of your baby which can leave you lacking in calcium, magnesium and potassium. The best way to treat this deficiency is to eat wholefoods rich in these minerals and drink plenty of water. Simple food choices that can help a great deal are Bananas - rich in magnesium and potassium, Leafy Green Veggies which are a great source of magnesium and calcium, Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes - rich in potassium, and Nuts which help increase calcium levels. 

If you are woken in the middle of the night suffering from a leg cramp stand on a flat surface (preferably a cold floor). Your affected foot wont want to flatten so you will need to push it flat or have someone else do this for you if your bump has rendered bending as one of those elusive activities. Once the soles of your feet touch the floor relief will follow. 

8 Ways to Increase Blood Flow & Reduce Cramps   

1. Wear a good proper fitting pair of maternity active wear tights. Gentle compression lessens the risk of cramps in the legs, however, you do not want to have the waist tight or restrictive.

2. Eat to replace lost minerals.Try these 'nice cream' recipes for breakfast, as a snack or anytime the craving strikes. They are healthy and packed full of nutrients you need to top up on

3. Soak your feet in a mineral rich foot soak and enjoy a foot rub. The minerals will be absorbed during your soak and the foot rub will increase blood flow,help with any swelling and is a great way to relax.

4. Sit Right! Crossing your legs or tucking them under yourself on the couch reduces blood flow. Instead, sit with them out in front of you, or even better, elevate them if you can.

5.Pointing your toes is a major trigger for cramps.Pop an extra pillow down at your feet of a night to prevent yourself from doing this during sleep.

6. Book yourself a float tank session. Floating while pregnant is a great way to boost magnesium absorption. It reduces swelling and helps to lower blood pressure. The weightlessness experienced during a float relieves heaviness and aching joins & muscles. Floating is very calming and great for relaxation and rest. Check with your doctor before booking a session.

7. Gentle Exercise. Stretch, walk, prenatal yoga are all good for both the body and the mind.   

8. Elevate your legs as much as you can. Lay on your back and wiggle your bottom until it touches the wall and your legs are resting flat up the wall. This reduces swelling in the feet and legs and gives instant relief from pressure.