A cramp refers to an involuntary and sudden muscle contraction, which can cause significant pain and temporary paralysis-like immobility. With a sudden onset, it usually resolves on its own after several seconds.
Cramps can occur in both smooth or skeletal muscles. Calf cramps are cramps that occur in the leg (knee to ankle region). After the cramp has resolved, there may be residual muscle soreness. Cramps are more common among older people, teenagers, and those who exercise at night.
While harmless, it can be painful and cause distress and anxiety. When a calf cramp occurs, gentle stretching, massaging, taking a warm bath or shower, and putting light pressure on the leg by standing or walking may help relieve the cramp.
Cause #1: Pregnancy
While the exact cause of why leg or calf cramps occur during pregnancy is still unclear, it is thought to be due to fatigue. When the growing fetus causes enlargement of the uterus, this presses on nerves, leading to decreased blood circulation in the legs. This can be a contributing factor for calf cramps.
Another possible explanation would be due to dehydration, calcium deficiency, or magnesium deficiency. Mostly harmless, those affected can try massaging the calf and flexing the foot by lifting the toes up. It may also be preventable by avoiding standing or sitting for an extended duration, taking calcium or magnesium supplements under the guidance of your healthcare provider overseeing your pregnancy, and staying hydrated.