There’s no doubt being pregnant is one of the most joyous times of your life as you eagerly anticipate the new addition to your family. But, carrying around your little one for nine months also puts tremendous strain on your body, including your legs. Almost half of all women are said to experience leg cramps and muscle spasms in their legs, particularly during the third trimester as you gain pregnancy weight. Here’s how to keep your legs healthy during your pregnancy…
Photo by Alagich Katya
Exercise: If you’re fit and healthy, there’s no need to stop exercising just because you’re pregnant. In fact, exercise can be a great way to keep your circulation flowing and prevent excess weight gain. If you’re starting to feel ungainly as your baby bump grows, then opt for gentle exercises like walking and yoga. Swimming is another great option as your body will be supported in the water.
Rest: It’s natural to feel more tired when you’re pregnant. After all, your body is working hard to support not just you but the new life growing inside you. Make sure you take time out to rest. Sit or lie down with your legs elevated to support your circulation while you read a book or watch your favourite television programme.
Diet: Diet is always important, but never more so than when you’re eating for two. By making sure you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fibre, fresh fruit and vegetables, you can help maintain good leg vein circulation and keep your heart healthy.
Massage: While vigorous leg rubs aren’t advised during pregnancy, a nice gentle massage with a perfume-free moisturising oil will help to soften skin and revitalise tired legs and feet.
Support stockings: One of the most common complaints as your pregnancy advances is oedema, where excess fluid collects in the legs, causing swollen and uncomfortable ankles and feet. It’s a normal part of pregnancy, so there’s no ‘cure’ as such, but support stockings may help reduce any swelling and relieve symptoms.
Preventing varicose veins: Unfortunately, varicose veins can go hand-in-hand with pregnancy. Increased levels of progesterone are there to encourage your joints and muscles to relax in preparation for labour, but it also means the walls of your veins relax. More blood circulating your body to take vital nutrients to your baby also puts more pressure on your circulatory system, and therefore your veins. Putting your feet up and wearing support tights will help and, hopefully, your varicose veins will disappear after you’ve given birth. If they’re still there after three or four months, you might want to visit your GP to discuss treatment options, which can include surgery if you’re in considerable discomfort.
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps your blood circulation and improves oxygen levels in your bloodstream, so staying hydrated should help your legs to feel more comfortable.
A warm bath: While you won’t want your bath water too hot while pregnant, a nice warm bath, which is comfortable to step into straight away rather than having to inch yourself in because of the temperature, could help relax any muscle cramps and get you ready for a good night’s sleep.
Stretching: It’s important not to stay in one position for too long when you’re pregnant because you’re more likely to get leg cramps. If you have to sit at your desk for long periods of time, make sure you get up regularly for a little walk and a stretch.
To the left: It’s best to sleep on your left side during pregnancy. This should help your blood flow and also help your kidneys to effectively eliminate waste products and fluids from your body, reducing swelling in your ankles and feet.
Surgeon quote… “A woman’s body goes through incredible changes during pregnancy to nourish her baby. But, this can put lots of strain on the legs. After all, they have to cope with hormonal changes along with inevitable weight gain. While most problems are likely to improve after the birth, sometimes surgical interventions are needed to help ease the pain and discomfort caused by varicose veins.”