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How to soothe your poor legs during pregnancy

Many women have general aches and pains in their legs and hips during pregnancy. The two that affected me the most are calf cramps and hip ache, both at night, but I did find some simple ways to ease the pain.

Calf cramps

Ayurveda attributes most cramps to Vata, and Vata imbalance is very common throughout pregnancy as your body tries to keep up with all the rapid changes. If you get a calf cramp here are a few things you can do:

  • Stretch it out, even if this hurts a little. Down dog is the best way to stretch into your calves and is safe during pregnancy until 36 weeks, unless you find it uncomfortable.
  • Massage it. Grab the part that is cramping, this can help stimulate the marma point.
  • Warm sesame oil rubbed into your calves every day can really help. Sesame oil has the unique quality of penetrating very deeply into the tissues.
  • Hot water bottles on the site of the cramp are soothing too.

But the winner is:

  • Epsom salt baths. I had one bath a week with 6 handfuls of epsom salts and that prevents cramps all week. Salt balances Vata. Magnesium is absorbed really easily through the skin rather than taking supplements.

Hip ache

My other main complaint was that my hips ached at night. They felt really loose and open and sometimes it feels like my legs are going to fall out. Strange but true: apparently this is more common in women of Scandinavian descent. During the day my hips were fine so I suspect it is related to my posture when I sleep. Here's what I find helps:

  • Give thanks to your body for opening for your baby.
  • Sleep on your side with a bolster under you top knee and your bottom knee straight. The bolster should be high enough to keep your knees aligned with your hips.
  • Slip a thin pillow or a fold of blanket under your tummy. This will prevent the weight of you expanding stomach dragging down through your hip ligaments.
  • If you wake up sore roll over on to the other side and rearrange all your pillows-bummer!
  • A yoga posture that may help is to sit with one knee straight and one knee bent and push your bent knee down to the side and back up to your chest (keeping your foot on the floor). Resist your pushing hand with your leg to build up strength.
  • Avoid doing a large amount of hip opening yoga postures like butterfly.

These things do come and go so be patient. Sweet dreams!

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