When clients ask me what they can do to prepare for their birth, one of the recommendations on the top of my list is to suggest that they make sure they are getting adequate magnesium. Reality is that most people are deficient in magnesium today for many reasons from diet and lifestyle choices to the quality of the food that is available to us. Fortunately, it's really easy to get more magnesium into our cells and it's a mineral that we can safely supplement since excess magnesium is easily eliminated through the urine and digestive tract. Too much magnesium acts as a laxative. Read labels and consult your doctor or midwife about magnesium supplementation.
Why does magnesium matter?
1. Decreased pain
Magnesium deficiency is linked to excess muscle cramping. Getting enough magnesium regulates muscle contractions and helps muscles relax. Experiencing leg cramps in pregnancy? Getting sufficient magnesium can help. My fertility clients report a decrease or elimination of menstrual cramps after increasing their magnesium intake and It also seems to decrease the pain of labour. Clients who supplement tend not to feel the beginning or end of their contractions compared to what is picked up on contraction monitors, meaning contractions feel shorter and milder and breaks feel longer.
2. Feel more calm
Many people don't know that magnesium deficiency can show up as anxiety and irritability. Not having enough can make it difficult to cope with things like irritating sounds, stress or even people. Magnesium helps us to feel more calm and relaxed. Getting enough magnesium means we are more able to cope.
3. Feel lighter and more optimistic
Pregnancy is a time of huge transition. Hormone levels are fluctuating and life is changing quickly. Increased stress contributes to magnesium loss. Evidence has shown that magnesium has beneficial effects for people experiencing depression. Getting adequate magnesium during pregnancy and postpartum can help the nervous and endocrine systems reducing the risk of pregnancy and postpartum depression.
4. More energy
Not getting enough magnesium can leave you feeling fatigued. Magnesium before bed contributes to a more restful sleep, it helps remedy insomnia and boosts energy levels. Restless leg syndrome is common in pregnancy and often a sign of magnesium deficiency. The uncomfortable leg sensations are a frequent cause of disrupted or lost sleep.
5. Muscle strength
Your uterus is an amazing muscle with a very important job in pregnancy and childbirth. Muscles need magnesium to work properly. Magnesium helps muscles contract and relax smoothly.
6. Blood sugar regulation
Magnesium helps promote healthy insulin production and studies have shown that magnesium supplementation improves glucose metabolism in pregnancy.
7. Reduced swelling and edema
Magnesium deficiency can cause water retention during pregnancy, especially in the legs and feet.
8. Decreased breast tenderness
Not getting enough magnesium can cause cystic breasts and breast tenderness. Up your intake and get relief from this uncomfortable common pregnancy symptom.
9. Decreased nausea and vomiting
Magnesium deficiency can make nausea and vomiting worse. Supplementing with magnesium in addition to vitamin B6 often reduces or eliminates this common pregnancy symptom.
10. Less constipation
Digestion slows down during pregnancy and many people experience constipation. Magnesium helps to relax the digestive system and pulls water into the intestine to make going much easier.
If these 10 reasons weren't already enough, magnesium can also help reduce risks of miscarriage, SIDS, fetal growth problems, irregular blood pressure, pre-eclampsia and premature birth.
Foods that are best sources of magnesium include whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds and legumes. Ionic magnesium is a great form for oral supplementation. Alternatively or in addition, magnesium is easily absorbed through the skin. Soak in an epsom salt bath or use a magnesium body spray for maximum cell saturation.
Michelle Stroud is a Holistic Reproductive Practitioner and HRP Trainer. Learn more about HRP training opportunities in North America.