Leg Cramps & More During Pregnancy.

Leg Cramps & More During Pregnancy.
Nikki C is wearing the 'Classic Maternity Leggings - Full Length' in black, the 'Smoothie Crop Bra' in confetti/white and the 'Casual Tank' in blush.

Leg issues like cramping, swelling, general pain or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) are extremely common during pregnancy. In fact, 50% of women will experience cramping alone when they're expecting. We wanted to know more about why legs get such a tough run, so we decided to survey our Cadenshae community to find out more.

Around 250 mothers from around the world responded. Here's what you'll learn in this case study:

1. When do leg cramps start during pregnancy?
2. When do leg cramps stop during pregnancy?
3. How to relieve leg cramps.
4. Words of advice from experienced mums.
5. Why do legs swell in pregnancy?
6. Swollen leg symptoms: 
7. When does leg swelling in pregnancy start?
8. When does leg swelling in pregnancy stop?
9. How to relieve swollen legs and feet. 
10. Words of advice from experienced mums.
11.When does leg pain start during pregnancy?
12. When does leg pain stop during pregnancy?
13. How to relieve leg pain. 
14. Words of advice from experienced mums.
15. What is (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction)? 
16. SPD pregnancy symptoms:
17. How many mums experience SPD?
18. What helps to alleviate SPD?
19. Words of advice from experienced mums.
20. Final words of encouragement from mums.

      1. When do leg cramps start during pregnancy?

      • 6% start cramping in the first trimester.
      • 27% start cramping in the second trimester.
      • 15% start cramping in the third trimester.
      • 2% start cramping the fourth trimester.
      • 50% of the mums surveyed didn't experience leg cramping.

      When do leg cramps start during pregnancy

      2. When do leg cramps stop during pregnancy?

      • 0% said cramping stopped in the first trimester.
      • 1% said cramping stopped in the second trimester. 
      • 18% said cramping stopped in the third trimester.
      • 59% said cramping stopped in the fourth trimester.
      • 22% said cramping stopped after the fourth trimester.

      When do leg cramps stop during pregnancy

      3. How to relieve leg cramps?

      According to our mamas, the following remedies helped to alleviate or prevent leg cramps during their pregnancies:

      • 29% Magnesium.
      • 19% Stretching and drinking plenty of water.
      • 17% Massage.
      • 7%   Exercise.
      • 7%   Giving birth.
      • 6%   Rest.
      • 5%   Compression.
      • 1%   Epsom salts.
      • 1%   Pickles.

          4. Words of advice from experienced mums:

          “Bananas and magnesium.”

          “Magnesium, exercise and water.”

          “Magnesium and cramp stop spray.”

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

          Compression tights and light exercise.”

          “Magnesium oil, sufficient water intake, stretching.”

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

          5. Why do legs swell in pregnancy?

          Sixty-three per cent of our mums surveyed had swollen legs during their latest pregnancy. Leg swelling occurs when the lymphatic system is overloaded with fluid. This fluid (mainly water and blood) is produced in higher levels during pregnancy to support the growing baby. Compression, light exercise and keeping feet elevated can help the fluid flow back to the lymphatic nodes so it can drain away.

          6. Swollen leg symptoms:

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

          7. When does leg swelling in pregnancy start?

          • 1% got swollen legs in the first trimester.
          • 11% got swollen legs in the second trimester.
          • 40% got swollen legs in the third trimester.
          • 11% got swollen legs in the fourth trimester.
          • 37% didn't experience swollen legs during pregnancy.

          When does leg swelling in pregnancy start

          8. When does leg swelling in pregnancy stop?

          • 0% saw the swelling stop in the first trimester.
          • 0% saw the swelling stop in the second trimester.
          • 6% saw the swelling stop in the third trimester.
          • 65% saw the swelling stop in the fourth trimester.
          • 29% saw the swelling stop after the fourth trimester.

          When does leg swelling in pregnancy stop

          9. How to relieve swollen legs and feet.

          Here's what our 250 mothers questioned did to relieve the issue:

          • 66% Elevation, compression, rest and/or ice packs/cold water.
          • 16% Gave birth.
          • 6%   Light - moderate exercise.
          • 3%   Massage.
          • 1%   Reduced salt intake.
          • 1%   Drank more water.
          • 1%   Wheat pack.
          • 1%   Resting a pillow in-between the legs.

          10. Words of advice from experienced mums:

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

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

          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."

          “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).”

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

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

          “Buckets of ice and elevation.”

            11. When does leg pain start during pregnancy?

            Unfortunately, 82% of our mums experienced some form of leg pain during their pregnancy.

            • 9% got leg pain in the first trimester.
            • 39% got leg pain in the second trimester.
            • 30% got leg pain in the third trimester.
            • 4% got leg pain in the fourth trimester.
            • 18% didn't get leg pain during pregnancy.

            When does leg pain start to occur during pregnancy

            12. When does leg pain stop during pregnancy?

            • 0% saw the pain stop in the first trimester.
            • 1% saw the pain stop in the second trimester.
            • 6% saw the pain stop in the third trimester.
            • 52% saw the pain stop in the fourth trimester.
            • 41% saw the pain stop after the fourth trimester.

            When do mums stop getting leg or hip pain during pregnancy

            13. How to relieve leg pain.

            • 19% Exercise and/or stretching.
            • 18% Massage.
            • 14% Rest.
            • 14% Giving birth.
            • 10% Compression/belly support.
            • 9%   Heat packs and/or baths.
            • 5%  Physiotherapy, Osteotherapy or Chirotherapy.
            • 2%  Magnesium oil/supplements.
            • 1%  Better shoes.
            • 1%  Baby moving position.

            14. Words of advice from experienced mums:

            “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 my belly up and took 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.”

            “Massages, good shoes. 

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

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

            “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.”

            15. What is Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction?

            Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) occurs when the weight of the baby puts pressure onto the pelvis causing swelling and pain in the symphysis pubis joint. This can then put the pelvis out of line. SPD is really painful and can even feel as though the pelvis is breaking, especially when walking.

            16. SPD pregnancy symptoms:

            • Pain in the groin, pubic area or pelvis.
            • Back pain.
            • Hip pain.  
            • Friction in your pelvis.
            • Increased pain when walking or movements that involve activating the muscles on the inside of your legs.

              SPD can affect your baby's birth so be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor about your symptoms to help manage the condition.

              17. How many mums experienced SPD?

              • 23% of the mums surveyed experienced SPD.
              • 77% of the mums surveyed did not experience SPD.

              How many mums experience SPD

              17. What helps to alleviate SPD?

              According to our affected mums, doing regular pelvic floor exercises helped the most to alleviate the pain. Wearing supportive and/or compression clothing/aides also helped to lift the belly up and take the pressure on the pelvis.

              • 64% Pelvic floor exercises and/or support/compression of the belly and hips. (Includes seeing a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor).
              • 20% Rest.
              • 2%   Stretching.

              Our mums used the below products to support their belly and hips:

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

              It's important a pregnant woman doesn't overtrain the pelvic floor muscles as they can become too strong and prevent her from pushing the baby out effectively, as pregnancy exercise expert Lorraine Scapens found out with her first birth. It's so easy to find information out in this day and age, but care should be taken when selecting what you choose to believe. Advice from accomplished experts (like Lorraine) should be what you listen to. Seek advice from qualified professionals, including your midwife and/or doctor.

              18. Words of advice from experienced mums:

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

              “Avoid single leg loading.”

              “Chirotherapy and stretching.”

              “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 worn incorrectly.”

              “Correct sleeping positions. Slowing down.”

              “A belly band and pelvic floor physiotherapy.”

              “Pregnancy pilates and being conscious of walking symmetrically.”

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

              “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 listened 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.”

              20. Final words of encouragement from mums.

              “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.”

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

              “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 with 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.”

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

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

              Written by Nikki Clarke. 


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