- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
Healthy pregnancy (19)
- Flu shot in pregnancy: Is it safe?
- Leg cramps during pregnancy: Preventable?
- Vaccines during pregnancy: Are they safe?
- see all in Healthy pregnancy
First trimester (3)
- Nausea during pregnancy: A good thing?
- Implantation bleeding: Normal in early pregnancy?
- Birth control pills: Harmful in early pregnancy?
Second trimester (1)
- Fundal height: An accurate sign of fetal growth?
Third trimester (1)
- Hypnobirthing: How does it work?
Pregnancy problems (9)
- Low amniotic fluid: How is it treated?
- Cervical length: Why does it matter during pregnancy?
- Diastasis recti: How does pregnancy affect stomach muscles?
- see all in Pregnancy problems
Leg cramps during pregnancy: Preventable?
What causes leg cramps during pregnancy, and can they be prevented?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
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|Leg cramp stretch during pregnancy|
Leg cramps — painful involuntary muscle contractions that typically affect the calf, foot or both — are common during pregnancy, often striking at night during the second and third trimester.
While the exact cause of leg cramps during pregnancy isn't clear, you can take steps to prevent them. For example:
- Stretch your calf muscles. Stretching before bed might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Stand at arm's length from a wall, place your hands on the wall in front of you and move your right foot behind your left foot. Slowly bend your left leg forward, keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, being careful to keep your back straight and your hips forward. Don't rotate your feet inward or outward and avoid pointing your toes. Switch legs and repeat.
- Stay active. Regular physical activity might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Before you begin an exercise program, make sure you have your health care provider's OK.
- Take a magnesium supplement. Limited research suggests that taking a magnesium supplement might help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy. Make sure you have your health care provider's OK to take a supplement, however. You might also consider eating more magnesium-rich foods, such as whole grains, beans, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.
- Stay hydrated. Keeping your muscles hydrated might help prevent cramps. If your urine is dark yellow, it might mean that you're not getting enough water.
- Choose proper footwear. Choose shoes with comfort, support and utility in mind. It might help to wear shoes with a long counter — the firm part of the shoe that surrounds the heel.
If a leg cramp strikes, stretch the calf muscle on the affected side. Walking and then elevating your legs might help keep the leg cramp from returning. A hot shower, warm bath or ice massage also might help.Next question
Vaccines during pregnancy: Are they safe?
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- You and Your Baby: Prenatal Care, Labor and Delivery, and Postpartum Care. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2011.
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- Nygaard IH, et al. Does oral magnesium substitution relieve pregnancy-induced leg cramps? European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. 2008;141:23.
- Young G, et al. Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000121/abstract. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Alzner S, et al. Joint protection program for the lower limb. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2013.
- Anderson T. Cochrane made simple: Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy. The Practising Midwife. 2007;10:40.
- Thomas DR, et al. Understanding clinical dehydration and its treatment. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 2008;9:292.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 22, 2013.