Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy
Pregnancy, although being an exciting journey, can have various ups and downs. Throughout the pregnancy one tends to go through drastic physical and psychological changes. Pains, aches and muscle cramps during pregnancy are quite common. However, if you are experiencing severe pain and cramps during pregnancy, it is a sign, which should not be ignored. It is best to consult your gynecologist to be on the safe side. There are many reasons pregnant women are plagued by muscle cramps and aches.
Causes of Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy
The first trimester is the most difficult period during pregnancy. There are drastic hormonal changes which result in morning sickness, dizziness and vomiting. There are many causes of muscle cramps during pregnancy. Some of those are given below.
Contraction and Expansion – The wall and muscles of the uterus start expanding and stretching to accommodate the growing fetus. The constant contraction and expansion are the commonest causes of muscle cramps during pregnancy. You may feel a pull on both sides of your belly or stomach. During the initial stages of pregnancy, you may feel the aches or cramps, similar to those during your periods.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – Some pregnant women have urinary tract infection during pregnancy. This is caused by either a bacterial infection or yeast. Urinary tract infection is one of the common causes of muscle cramps during pregnancy, usually associated with a burning sensation in the urinary tract. Urinary tract infection may also cause kidney problems, which in turn may increase the chances of going into preterm labor. It is therefore advised to for the pregnant women to go for regular checkups and get urinary infections treated.
Over Exercising – Too much physical exertion can also cause muscle cramps during pregnancy. If one carries on with the normal exercise routine, it may cause muscular stress, causing pain. It is best to take medical advice about whether it is safe to carry on with normal exercising routine or not. There are special exercises for pregnant women and an expert help in this matter is of great use.
Constipation and Indigestion – These are the commonest issues experienced by most pregnant women. Abdominal ache or muscle cramps during pregnancy can also be because of indigestion. The hormone called as progesterone slows down the transition of food through the digestive tract, leading to indigestion and constipation. Iron supplements can also cause constipation as well as indigestion, hence leading to abdominal aches and muscle cramps during pregnancy.
Weight Gain – With the growth of the fetus, a woman’s womb size increases. This exerts pressure on the back, which too can give rise to muscle cramps during pregnancy. The muscles in the pelvic region also expand with the growth of the fetus. It thereby causes soreness and back aches, which feel like abdominal pain and cramps.
Causes of Severe Muscle Cramps During Pregnancy
Mild cramps and pains are normal during pregnancy, but if you experience severe pain and muscle cramps during pregnancy, immediately medical help may be needed. Severe muscle cramps and discomfort can occur in the following conditions:
If you observe symptoms like bleeding or spotting along with severe muscle cramps during pregnancy, it may be a sign of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. It is during the first trimester that miscarriages are likely to happen. Therefore, the first 3 months of pregnancy are extremely crucial and you need to be careful.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of maternal mortality during the first trimester.1 The fertilized egg remains in the fallopian tube and does not move into the uterus, causing a miscarriage. In a few exceptional cases, the fertilized egg gets stuck to one of the ovaries, the abdomen or the cervix, however, such instances are rare.
About 5 to 8 percent of all pregnant ladies have preeclampsia, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation of America.2 Preeclampsia is a condition, which can occur any time after the 20th week of pregnancy. This too is an important and serious cause of muscle cramps during pregnancy. It causes severe pain and cramps in the upper right side of the stomach and hence increases the chances of placental abruption. The placenta prematurely breaks off from the uterine wall before the delivery of the fetus. Here is where regular checkups play an important role. Regular urine test and blood pressure monitoring can help in determining preeclampsia in advance. Generally, high blood pressure and high protein content in the urine is an indication of preeclampsia.
This is the phase during pregnancy, when you feel pressure in the pelvis area. With the onset of the third trimester the belly weight on the pelvis increases, in no time you may undergo labor pain. Pain can be felt while walking or moving as weight of the growing fetus presses down the nerves of the vagina right down to your legs. Lying down on your side or sitting sideways may ease the discomfort. Usually muscle cramps during pregnancy are not experienced during this trimester expect an abnormal pain or the onset of labor pain. If you experience any tightness, hardness or crampy pain in the abdomen region, or back, you must immediately consult your doctor. It should raise concern if pain is accompanied with vaginal discharge or bleeding.
Muscle cramps during pregnancy that increase steadily may also be an indication of premature labor, but that too needs medical attention.
Cramps can sometimes be normal, but at times also indicate abnormal signs during pregnancy. Therefore, it is always important to follow the antenatal health check-up plan, as advised and to consult your physician in case of any discomfort. Timely check-up and appropriate medical aid can ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
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