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5 Easy Ways to Ditch Leg Cramps for Good

For weeks now, my legs had been threatening to seize. In bed, trying desperately for a restful night’s sleep. When the tight sensation in my legs would start, I would quickly extend my legs, press my heels down and thrust my toes upward until the sensation dissipated. It was working great. I thought I was in the clear.  Until this week.

And Holy Forking Shirt. It hurt like Heck!

My left calf was arrested in the strongest cramp I had ever experienced. I could not move or breathe!

Once the feeling eventually subsided, I gingerly got up out of bed and waddled to the bathroom to spray a liberal dose of magnesium oil onto my legs and feet.

The relief was almost instant. Or was it a placebo effect? Perhaps both. Either way, the cramp was gone, for now.

Many of my clients would complain of tight sore legs and feet, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. And it appears no one in immune.

Why are leg cramps so common during pregnancy and what can be done about it?

It is thought that legs cramps can occur due to fatigue, too much or too little activity, dehydration, magnesium deficiency and pressure from the uterus impacting blood flow to the lower half of the body.

While debilitating, leg cramps can easily be managed at home. Below I share some at-home remedies that can help ease the discomfort of leg cramps

  1. Stay Hydrated

Tight sore muscles are dehydrated muscles. If dehydration is the issue, then increasing water intake may be one easy way to ease cramps. One way to see if you are drinking enough water is to check the colour of your urine. Dark yellow suggested dehydration, while a light-yellow means that you are adequately hydrated. And if you on a lot of B vitamin, your urine may be bright fluro yellow. If you have concerns, please consult your prenatal care provider.

  1. Stretch it Out

Stretching can also ease a cramp as its occurring and potentially prevent them from cramping. An amazingly simple stretch that you can do in bed is to extend your leg, press your heel down as you pull your toes towards your face. Be careful not to pint your toes that this will contract the area that is cramping and make the cramp worse.

  1. Supplement with Magnesium

Magnesium can be beneficial in reducing leg cramps. Taken either orally as a tablet or powered supplement, applied topically as an oil or gel or soaking in a warm foot spa or bath, magnesium could relieve pain from cramping and potentially prevent cramps from occurring. While the research on using magnesium in this was is limited, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help. Be sure to check with your prenatal care provider to see if magnesium is right for you.

  1. Gentle Exercise

If lack of exercise is the issue, then gentle exercise may help to prevent and ease cramping. Short, gentle, and slow walks or pregnancy friendly yoga postures can not only help to keep you fit and healthy during pregnancy but can increase blood flow, gently working and strengthening muscles in the lower body. Be sure to check with your prenatal care provider before starting any exercise during pregnancy.

  1. Pleasure over Pain

Have you ever stubbed your toe on something? It hurts like heck, right? And what is the first thing you do, after screaming out a few expletives? You will rub the area that has been injured. When we rub our stubbed toe, our brain floods with endorphins, the body’s “happy feel good chemical”. This type of self-soothing massage can easily be applied to calf cramps. Massage to the calves before bed may help to prevent cramps from occurring. Massage can even be applied during a cramp to ease it. Just ensure that you use pressure that is appropriate to your own needs, and do not cause further pain or discomfort.

 

Just because a symptom is common in pregnancy, does not mean you need to put up with it. These easy home-remedies may be the thing between you and a pain-free, restful sleep during pregnancy.

For more info on ways to manage pregnancy aches and pain, check out the blog archive.

 

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Our Top 3 Healthy Spring Recipe Ideas

The sun is shining, the breeze is warm, and the gardens are beginning to bloom. It’s springtime! This amazing season grows some of the most delicious produce that can make your breakfast, lunch and dinner pop with flavour and nutrients.

Here are some great spring recipe ideas that make the most of the season’s produce.

Breakfast bowls and smoothies

Spring is the season of some amazing fruits such as bananas, strawberries, blueberries and grapefruit. Putting a handful of each along with some organic yoghurt and milk (of any variety) into a blender will create a great on-the-go breakfast for busy schedules.

A colourful breakfast bowl with some soaked or toasted oats, cinnamon, yoghurt and fresh mandarin, banana and berries will help keep you full and energetic for the day.

Salads and Stir Fry

Fresh avocado, capsicum, celery, cucumber, tomato and spinach are all available in abundance during spring. All of these and more are the base of a great salad bowl with the addition of some proteins such as egg, chicken or salmon to bring it all together.

Stir fry is also a great way to pack a bunch of healthy ingredients into one amazing dish with some spring beans, onion, zucchini, leek and mushrooms which are all in season. You can add any flavour to a stir fry base such as soy, fish, and oyster sauce, honey, or peanut butter, which will all develop amazing flavours with some rice, noodles, or any other carbohydrate to add in the mix.

Vegetable bakes and roasts

Weeknight dinners are best when they’re quick, easy, and fulfilling! Turning a typical lasagne into a smorgasbord of spring veg and flavour is a great way to get your fill of healthy produce. You can even replace the lasagne sheets with sliced eggplant if you’re watching your carb intake. Adding some egg and flour to the mix instead of lasagne sheets can also produce a great vegie bake that refrigerates and reheats well.

One-pot roasts are also a great go-to dish for weeknights. Roasting vegetables such as potato, pumpkin, parsnip, carrot and other staple roast veg are in their prime during spring. Surrounding a roast chicken or pork with these vegetables is a great set-and-forget option for dinner and will produce amazing flavours as the juices from the produce and the roast develop together in the oven.

You can get some more recipe inspiration by taking a look at a seasonal produce guide.

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Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

 

It’s no secret that I love what I do. And why wouldn’t I? Every day, I am privileged to support women through pregnancy and into motherhood with massage.

We all know that massage is amazing for the usual aches and pain of life – from spending too much time at your desk, hunched over a computer – to pushing it too hard at the gym on leg day. But massage during pregnancy is a whole other ball game.

Pregnancy is a unique stage of human life and while the muscular discomforts that are experienced are the same, every pregnancy journey is different and affects women is acutely different ways.

One of my mums asked me “What makes pregnancy massage feel so good?” My simple reply was, “Well, I am massaging two of you, so the effect is doubled.”

One of the things that makes pregnancy massage so different is that there are two people on the massage table. And in the case of multiple babies, there will be three or even four people on the table!

One of the greatest privileges I have is massaging a pregnant woman’s abdomen. A lot of women shy away from this. And I get it, the stomach in a sensitive area for most women, especially if there are issues around body image and we tend to store a lot of emotions in this region. But especially in pregnancy, doctors and midwives poke and prod and even complete strangers feel the urge to touch your belly without consent.

In pregnancy massage balance is vital. Back spasms are common in pregnancy and this can be the bodies attempt to balance the body as the center of gravity shifts forward to cope with the weight of baby and postural changes.

The benefits of massaging the abdomen are numerous. Massage supports the abdominal muscles, eases the load on the lumbar spine and can aid in alleviating the abdominal separation. In addition to the physical benefits, massage can enhance the mother-baby connection. During this time, the mother can draw her attention to her abdomen and connect with the movements of her baby.

Quite often during am abdomen massage, I can feel the baby kick, or press again my palm. And I must admit this is a special moment too. It’s moments like this the may me realise that mum is not the only one receiving the benefits of the massage.

The quote “good for mum, good for baby” rings true in the scope of pregnancy massage. Whatever mum is experiencing, baby will experience.  It is important that mum makes time to relax and look after herself.

If you want to learn more about how massage can help you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

 

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.

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The 5 Reasons Why Massage Must Be Part of Your Postpartum Recovery

Early postpartum recovery is a time of healing and adjustment. The recovery period is the 6-week period post-birth however, but the body continues to have metabolic and hormonal changes that can last longer.

I often remind my clients that it has taken them 9 months, or in some cases 10, to allow their baby to develop. A woman’s body changes almost instantly post-birth, and it takes time to return balance to the body, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

And of course, we must acknowledge the biggest challenge that new mums face – how they can look after themselves when they are trying to keep a little human alive. Keep reading to find out why massage forms a vital part of post-partum recovery.

 

The Benefits Of Postnatal Massage

Massage is important for early postnatal recovery. Massage during the postpartum period can even enable a quicker recovery from pregnancy and childbirth and improve the health and wellbeing of mum. Massage forms a vital part of the journey into motherhood.

Some of the benefits of postpartum massage include:

  • Labour recovery, physical and mental exhaustion
  • Alleviating stress, anxiety and depression
  • Rebalancing postural changes and reducing pain
  • Aiding the repair of scar tissue from surgery due to cesarean birth
  • Providing relief from breastfeeding posture and mammary changes

 

Labour Recovery

Let’s face it, whether you have a quick 1-hour labour, or whether your labour went on for days, there is no denying that it has an impact on your body. From the first stages, to the active pushing and expulsion of the placenta, your body had worked hard to endure these phases. Massage in the postpartum period can help the new mother to alleviate feelings of physical and mental exhaustion. Massage is a wonderful way to reduce pregnancy discomforts hat often linger postnatally. Receiving massage is early postpartum can enhance recovery and reduce pelvic ligament and joint strain and pain.

 

Mental Health of Mum and Dad

Massage at any stage of life can reduce stress hormones and increase feelings of relaxation. Postpartum massage shares these benefits. More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time.

For mums, hormonal changes can be a contributing factor for changes in mental health. While adjusting to new responsibilities and feelings of frustration, stress and overwhelm can impact both parents. Massage can help the new mum and dad alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health postnatally, please contact PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306 or  Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Pregnancy Birth Baby Helpline on 1800 882 436.

 

Postural Rebalance and Reducing Pain

Post-birth, a woman’s posture changes dramatically. Their center of gravity is no longer being thrust forward with the weight of baby. But this does not mean that the body automatically rebalances itself. Massage can assist in realigning and rebalancing postural changes in the glutes, hips and shoulders. Thus, providing relieve form muscular strain and reducing tension headaches, and generalized lower back pain.  Postnatal massage is relaxing and eases muscular strain not only form labour and birth, but also assists in rebalancing the body as it adjusts to new physical demands, such as breastfeeding.

 

Scar Tissue Repair

One of the main focuses of postpartum massage is scar tissue repair and rebalancing the abdominal muscles. After a caesarian birth, some mothers report a loss of feeling and sensation in their abdomen. Postnatal massage focuses on bringing awareness to the abdomen and allowing mum to connect into her body.

Postpartum treatment also works on reducing adhesions surrounding the scar tissue, which can help mum feel freer and reduce abdomen pain. Massage on the caesarian scar tissue can help to heal the deeper layers of the wound and can prevent tissues from sticking together.

If you have had a caesarian, it is recommended to obtain consent and approval from your primary health care professional prior to attending treatment. This ensure that massage is safe, and the journey to healing and rebalancing can begin.

 

Breastfeeding posture

Motherhood brings with it new physical demands. Lifting, carrying and holding a new baby puts strain on the back, while breastfeeding strains the neck, upper back. It can feel like your whole body is a ball of pain and tension.

I often remind my new mums that breastfeeding is a skill that you need to learn, much like how your baby is learning the ways of the world too. Take it easy, take it slow and most of all be kind to yourself. It may take a while to hone this skill. At the end of the day, there is no right way to breast feed. If you choose to do it, or not do it, it doesn’t matter. But your posture is vital whether you are using breast or bottle.

I love this video from What To Expect. It goes through three breastfeeding postures for optimal comfort of mum and baby. What I love most about this video is that mum has supported her feet on a stool and throughout her shoulders are relaxed and she isn’t slouched or hunched over.

Watch It Here

 

Postnatal Massage Recommendations

As with pregnancy massage, postnatal treatment considers the comfort of mum, first and foremost. Prior to treatment, I recommend that mum’s feed or express to increase comfort.

Treatment can be performed side lying, if lying on the stomach causes pain in the abdomen or breasts.

Mum can also bring baby into the treatment if child care is not available. Baby can either be in the pram or on the table with mum if it is suitable.

Appointments can be arranged around feeding and sleep times to make this easier for baby to settle and for mum to relax.

Need an appointment? Book Now!

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3 Ways to Beat Pregnancy Pains

While a time of joy and excitement, pregnancy can also be a time of discomfort, pain and general feelings of exhaustion. Many women experience similar common ailments, such as low back pain and leg cramps. In this blog, I hope to give an overview of these common ailments, why they occur and more importantly, what you can do about it!

 

Posture

During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity shifts forward as their baby develops and their belly gets bigger. This causes a woman’s posture to, for want of a better term – “go outta whack”. Shoulders slouch and curve, the neck is pushed forward, bums stick out. In some cases, women enter pregnancy with postural complaints and these issues become exacerbated during pregnancy.

 

The Role of Hormones

Smooth muscles, connective tissue, cartilage joints and ligaments “soften” during pregnancy thanks to the hormones progesterone and relaxin.  This means that the hip, sacroiliac and pubic symphysis joints become less stable. Most women can cope with these changes, but for women with hypermobility (extra-flexibility) may suffer from additional discomfort.

 

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be the result of changes to posture. Slouchy shoulders cause tightness in the upper back, shoulder, neck and chest. Shoulder tension may also lead to headaches.

 

Shoulder and Neck Stretch

Sitting in a chair, place you left hand under your bottom. Then tilt your head to the right, drawing your right ear down to your right shoulder. Use your right arm to hold the left side of your head above your ear to intensify the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Click Here For A Visual Guide.

 

Leg Cramps and Pain

In the warmer months, many of my clients complain of leg cramps. Common from the second half of pregnancy, leg cramps can have a sudden onset and often occur at night.  Leg cramps can be eased by gently exercising and stretching the calf prior to going to bed. Painful legs can often be a result of increased weight in the lower half of the body. Extra pressure is placed on the inferior vena cava (the largest vein supplying blood to the lower limbs).

 

Leg Stretch

Place your hands at arm’s length on a wall. With your hips square, place your right foot behind your left. While keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor, bend your left leg slowly. Keep your back straight and hips forward as you hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Click here for a visual guide.

 

Low Back Pain

Low back pain may result from several factors. Women may enter pregnancy with pre-existing low back and gluteal pain. Low back pain can also be cause by tight or strained lower back muscles. The round ligament, one of the eight ligaments that holds the uterus in place, stretches rapidly. This can often cause pain on one side the body, depending on fetal positioning. Low back pain can be alleviated by sleeping in a side-lying position and placing a pillow between the knees and under the tummy.

 

Stretch – Cat Pose

Come on all fours, with your knees hip width apart, and your hands in line with your shoulders. Begin with the spine in a neutral position. Slowly tilt the pelvis under, flattening the lower back. At the same time, tuck your chin to your chest, causing the shoulders to curve and hunch. If wrists become uncomfortable, you may rest on your elbows instead of your hands. Hold the stretch for a few moments and return the spine to a neutral position. Click here for a visual guide.

 

Feel Freer With Massage

Massage is also a great way to manage the common discomforts of pregnancy. From releasing tight shoulders, applying gentle hip join mobilization and alleviating leg cramps. Treatments are personalized to suit you and your unique pain and discomforts.

 

Partner Massage During Labour

DID YOU KNOW – Massage during labour can help the mother to relax, ease her pain and enhance her overall wellbeing.

PLUS – Partner massage helps the two of you to feel more connected as you bring your new baby into the world together.

Supported and Empowered in Labour – Partner Massage training is held monthly. Click here for more information!

 

If you are not sure if massage is appropriate for you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.