Half of us suffer from aching, tired, crampy legs during pregnancy, usually in our last trimester and, often – infuriatingly – at night.
The aches happen because, obviously, your legs are having to support a whole lot more of you than usual, as well as adjust to ferrying around a body that’s carrying more of its weight out front.
Your growing uterus is also putting pressure on the veins whose job it is to carry blood back from your lower body – and this pressure partially blocks the blood flow, keeping fluid in your legs and feet and making them feel swollen and tired.
Swelling in your legs is not generally, by itself, a cause for concern but do see your midwife or GP if you notice your face is swollen and puffy, too, or you’re also getting headaches.
Click through to the next pages for clever ways to relieve those mid to late-pregnancy leg aches and pains…
Sleep on your left
Sleep with your legs raised by 10-15 cms. You can do this by putting a couple of cushions under your ankles or buying a block of foam from an upholstery or mattress shop. You’re also advised to sleep on your left side when you’re pregnant. This is to help improve blood flow to your baby and to help your kidneys get rid of waste products. All this helps to cut down on swollen pregnancy ankles and the uncomfortable feeling in your legs. You might find wedging a cushion between your knees helps as your pregnancy progress.
Watch your posture
You want to avoid any kind of behaviour that’s going to stop your blood circulating around your body. The easiest way to do this? Stop crossing your legs! Yes, we know it’s hard when you’ve sat like that for the whole of your life, but it really will help with tired and heavy legs. Unfortunately, like most habits, it’s hard to break. To stop you doing it at work trying sticking a post-it to your screen that says ‘Don’t cross your legs). At home maybe put a piece of sticking plaster on the remote control with the same message written on it. Once you’ve curbed the urge for a few weeks the bad habit will be a thing of the past.
Take a walk
Exercise is one of the best things to get your circulation going and stop those tired legs from aching. But you don’t need to do anything manic. Just walking for half an hour every day should be enough to make them feel better. Of course, make sure you’re in comfy shoes and remember to breathe properly. And don’t overdo it. If you start to feel lightheaded stop and have a sit down.
Don’t get too tight
Pre-pregnancy it’s possible skin tight jeans were your wardrobe staple, but now you have a bump and baby on board, you might want to reconsider. Avoid any clothes that are likely to hinder your circulation – like jeans or socks that are too tight.
Indulge in a massage
We never need an excuse for a massage. But now you have a reason for your partner to give you one every day – your aching legs and feet! It’s also a good chance for you and the other half to have a bit of quiet one-on-one time to catch up on any concerns going through your heads now you’re going to become parents.