Powerful Pregnancy (Leg cramps, restlessness, and morning sickness)

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I put an app on my phone so that the kids could track my pregnancy and the baby’s development. I had a hunch it would drive me crazy and occasionally angry. And it has. Every week I get the updates of how big the baby is and what organ is developing at that stage of gestation.  But then there is the section on what to expect.  It sort of goes like this, “This week in your pregnancy you will discover that your body hates you. You will be vomiting, cramping and bitchy. And the best news is there is nothing you can do help yourself feel better. Have a happy pregnancy!”

This is not my experience.  You see, I firmly believe that the fact that I conceived life, am carrying that life, can birth that life and then sustain that life through my breasts is a sign of my health and not a sign of disease. Pregnancy is not a sickness to be managed or cured. It is a powerful force of femininity. It is a reminder–every single day for 40+ weeks–that Satan was defeated through an act of femininity, an act of motherhood. **drop mic**

Pregnancy is powerful, ladies!  What our bodies are capable of is incredible! Mighty! Beautiful! And yes, it is challenging!  But, it does not have to be miserable!  Can we try to keep in mind that Jesus reversed the curse on the cross! Your husband doesn’t have to loathe going to work by the sweat of his brow every day, being tortured by the misery.  You don’t have to dread bringing forth new life by the sweat of your brow, drowning in misery. #rantover

After chatting it up on Facebook and Instagram with other expecting mommies, we decided to do a series of posts on common pregnancy complaints/symptoms and how to respond to them.  Let’s call it POWERFUL PREGNANCY!

Powerful Pregnancy

This is my belly in my 8th pregnancy. Photo credit: Cory Plowman Photography

{Here is where I insert the disclaimer. I am not a doctor. Not a midwife. Don’t play one on TV.  I am a childbirth educator and doula, but that is hardly an authority figure in your life. So, use your common sense. Nothing in this article or on this website is a substitute for professional medical advice and it is not the intent of Daja or Kristina to advise about your particular situation or health condition. Do your own research and own your own choices. You’re a grown-up.}

Let’s talk about three things I think can all have the same root cause: Leg cramps, restlessness, and morning sickness.

That right there is a trifecta of misery.  If you have ever been pistol whipped awake in the dead of night by one of your muscles cramping like no one’s business, you know what pain is.  And that constant restlessness, especially of the legs, that can keep you awake all night is horrible. And let’s not forget morning sickness, which is a serious misnomer.  It’s not morning, often. It’s morning, afternoon, evening and nighttime sickness. Icky.

These three things, although they manifest very differently, often have the same root cause: Magnesium deficiency.

According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition 68% of people suffer from magnesium deficiency.  There are over 300 biological functions that depend on magnesium.  So, it’s not something you can really afford to ignore–whether you’re pregnant or not!

Real Food Sources of Magnesium

  • Dark leafy greens (such as kale, chard, spinach)
  • Nuts and seeds (soaked and sprouted when possible!)
  • Avocado
  • Fish (are you wary about eating too much fish because of contaminants? Nourishing Our Children knocks that question out of the park with a well-sourced and excellent article. Read it here and the follow-up article here.)
  • Bone broth (from the bones of sustainably raised animals)
  • Bananas
  • Raw Dairy

Why are so many people deficient in magnesium, even if they eat a whole food “healthy” diet? The short answer is that our soil is depleted of many essential nutrients–magnesium among them–due to our industrial model of growing food. *cue very sad sigh*

Our human ancestors evolved in a world in which healthy drinking water came directly from streams, rivers, and lakes, rich in mineral content. The human body became reliant on obtaining a considerable proportion of its daily mineral needs from natural water sources.

Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. We obtain drinking water from a spigot or a plastic bottle. Pesticides and other chemicals seeping into the water supply have made everyone suspicious of water quality. As a result, municipal water-purification facilities have intensified their efforts to remove contaminants like lead, pesticide residues, and nitrates from drinking water. Unfortunately, these modern water-treatment methods also deplete drinking water of desirable minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Exacerbating this problem is that many Americans, distrustful of the purity and safety of municipally treated water, have added home water filters and purifiers that efficiently extract any remaining minerals from the water, thus converting “hard” into “soft” water. In fact, the manufacturers of these devices boast of their power to yield water free of “contaminants”—including minerals like magnesium. Thus, the magnesium content of the water that passes through most commercial filters is zero. (Source)

So, if a magnesium deficiency is at the root of the cramps, restlessness, and morning sickness and it’s difficult to get enough from the average diet, what is a pregnant mom to do?!  Here are some of the simple things we have used to address this concern and to have a happy pregnancy:

1. BONE BROTH

Back on that soap box, are we?!

Yep!  My own personal experience has convinced me of the effectiveness of a daily bone broth regiment.  You can read all about that on our post about bone broth.  Use the highest quality bones you can find.  Ask your local meat market or farmer’s market about grass-fed, pastured, free-range, and organic meats.

2. Raw Milk

Wait?! You drink raw milk while you’re pregnant?!

You better believe it!  In fact, we are not at all convinced about the safety of conventional milk purchased in the average grocery store.  But, we do trust raw organic pastured milk for local farms. Farms we can visit, check out, and we can look our farmers in the eye!  That’s the kind of accountability we like in our food system. (Chris Kresser does an excellent job of breaking down the raw milk question in a series of posts called Raw Milk Reality.)

3. Epsom Salt Soaks

Your skin is your largest organ and is like a huge sponge! It can absorb so much! (Which is one reason we should be cautious about what we put on our skin. Think about the ingredients in your shampoo, perfumes, make-up, etc.)  Especially in the first trimester of pregnancy when the queasy can set in, I take at least one (sometimes more) long Epsom Salt soak every day.  I put a couple cups of Epsom Salts in the tub and about as much water as I can to cover my growing belly.  Soak for about 30 minutes so that the mineral has a chance to really absorb. Use this time to relax and restore and for some positive meditations about your pregnancy and prayer time or Scripture memory.  Do not use this time to shave your legs or mess around on your phone or iPod.  Seriously, people. Seriously.

Don’t have a bathtub? Move. Just kidding. Try a daily foot soak!  This is also a very effective way to absorb magnesium and to pamper yourself!

4. Supplementation

There are a lot of supplements on the market. Unfortunately, if you don’t use them properly they just create expensive pee.  For example, magnesium must be in balance with other nutrients (mostly calcium and vitamin D) in order for you to absorb and utilize it.  When my students ask for a recommendation for a calcium supplement, I always recommend one that has a 2:1 ratio Calcium to Magnesium.  In addition to that, make sure you are taking in enough natural vitamin D–either from the sun or a safe source of fish oil. We like fermented cod liver oil.  (Concerned about the recent hullabaloo about fermented cod liver oil? We aren’t. We still take it every day. Read the Westin A. Price Foundations statement on FCLO here.)


Have a joyful and blessed pregnancy!  And leave us a comment with one of your pregnancy symptoms you’d like us to address!  Or tell us your best remedy for leg cramps, restlessness and morning sickness!

Lord Jesus, I lovingly pray for this sweet hope
that I keep within my womb.
You have granted me the immense gift
of a tiny little life,
living in my own life,
and I humbly thank you for choosing me
as an instrument of your love.
In this sweet waiting,
help me to live in a constant attitude
of self-surrender to your will.

Grant me a motherly heart that is pure,
steadfast and generous.
I hand over to you my own concerns;
any anxious fears that may come,
my own wishes for the little person
that I still have no knowledge of.
Grant that it may be born healthy in body,
keep far from it every peril to its soul.

Mary, you have known
the ineffable joy of a holy motherhood;
give me a heart that can transmit an ardent, living faith.
Sanctify my waiting,
bless this joyful hope that is in me,
grant that the fruit of my womb
may open out in virtue
and in holiness through your working
with that of your divine Son.

Amen

(source)


  1. What a fantastic list! I noticed a HUGE difference between my first pregnancy when I was still eating a mainly SAD diet to my last pregnancy when I was eating the foods listed here. I looked better and felt terrific while eating whole foods. 

  2. All great suggestions! One thing to add is to get spinal adjustments from a Chiropractor! 

  3. Great post! I have loved my pregnancies, even though the first trimester was hard for me. I wish I had known about more magnesium then. 

  4. wonderful suggestions! i was so miserable all of my pregnancies right in the beginning but from the second tri on i loved every minute 🙂

  5. Oh this is such a great article! I’m bookmarking it for when my members of Fit2B ask for magnesium info. 

  6. I love that you included that ratio of mag/cal/vit D being so important! Magnesium has been a  life saver around here!

  7. I was just talking with a friend the other day about ear issues during pregnancy, and she said she has experienced clogged ears during all her pregnancies! Wow. So I’m wondering your best advice on that? 🙂 Something else I’d be curious to hear is how to deal with sciatica while pregnant? That’s another one I hear about once in a while that seems scary. 

    • We will add these symptoms to future posts!  One things we can’t say enough about is a good chiropractor–especially in the last trimester! LIFE. SAVER. 

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