Updated: Nov 15, 2022
In particular in the form of relaxing Epsom salt baths and soothing magnesium oil foot rubs.
NB – If you don’t have a bath, or prefer not to bathe, a foot soak using one of our magnesium-based bath soaks will also let you absorb magnesium, and may be preferable if you’re experiencing movement or dizziness issues.
Add about 2 cups of Epsom salt to your bath, or half a cup to your foot soak. You’ll still absorb the magnesium.
1 - Better sleep
You’re growing a whole new human! So it stands to reason that you’re tired. You need lots of good sleep and rest to give you the energy to keep going. How ironic that getting good sleep when you’re pregnant is just about the hardest thing to do! You keep needing to get up and pee in the night; you can’t roll over in bed without a pulley system and a complete redesign of your pillow scaffolding; you get heartburn when you lie down for too long...
Now, Epsom salt baths can’t magic these problems away (though they help with more pregnancy issues than you might think) but this top up of magnesium will help you get a bit more shut-eye because it maintains healthy levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. It’s also responsible for regulating melatonin production, which promotes a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
2 - May ease morning sickness
Fluctuating progesterone and oestrogen levels have an effect on your magnesium levels. High levels of them deplete magnesium. Many women find that restoring their magnesium levels helps to reduce morning sickness symptoms. Nobody knows exactly why though! It could be that magnesium balances cortisol levels, and cortisol stabilises blood sugar levels. A dip in blood sugar can cause a feeling of sickness. I got through many packs of Rich Tea biscuits during those first 3 months because of this!
3 - Fewer headaches
These higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone might also be the cause of blood vessel spasms – they cause magnesium to be depleted, and magnesium is necessary for keeping cerebral vascular smooth muscle cells relaxed and working well. This could explain why more women than men experience migraines, and why they normally occur at times when both these sex hormones are high (the second half of the menstrual cycle).
Magnesium is also responsible for relaxing muscles. We can sometimes feel like we’re carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders (well the weight of work, running a household, making time for friends and family etc, and now the added issues that pregnancy can bring) so it’s no wonder that our neck and shoulders are often the first areas to feel the tension. When these muscles are tight they can often cause tension headaches.
Relaxing baths might not be the first thing you think of when you have a headache. But if you can fit them into your schedule quite often (say 2 – 3 times a week) and use magnesium oil daily, you might find you no longer need to treat headaches once they appear, because you won’t experience them as badly.
4 - Fewer cramps
As you know, one of magnesium’s main awesome jobs is to relax muscles. If muscles are tight and tense, this can lead to painful cramps. Being deficient in magnesium can also be a cause of muscle cramps in itself. Pregnancy can sometimes cause abdominal cramps too, as the uterus grows, stretching the ligaments and muscles that support it.
If you have leg cramps, you can massage magnesium oil directly onto the affected areas. Just be aware that it is a salt product so will sting any areas of broken skin, or freshly shaved legs (if you can still reach them to shave them!). You might be someone who feels the magnesium tingle, in which case it’s best to massage your mag oil into your feet only. You don’t have to apply the oil to the affected area – magnesium is a whole body tonic and once you’ve absorbed it, though whichever area of skin, your body will make use of it where it’s needed.
5 - Can relieve constipation
Our digestive tract is made up of muscle too, right? So it makes sense that magnesium, which relaxes muscles, will have an effect on this part of the body too. Don’t worry, you won’t become so relaxed that there is a code brown incident! Especially if you absorb your magnesium through your skin, rather than in an oral form (like tablets or a powdered drink) that has to transit through your digestive system.
Upping your magnesium will help relax your bowel, encouraging normal movement. Constipation can be common during pregnancy as higher than normal progesterone levels slow down the bowel. Then in the final trimester everything is so squished up by the growing baby, and you’re likely less physically active than usual, which both have an effect. Enjoying a warm bath with Epsom salt can help, or simply rub your magnesium oil into your belly.
6 - Ease heartburn
There isn’t much you can do about baby taking up all that space in your abdomen, leaving little room for your stomach to work properly. But enjoying Epsom salt baths and magnesium oil foot rubs to increase your magnesium levels can have a small positive effect on heartburn. A poor night’s sleep seems to increase acid reflux issues the next day, which in turn increases worry and stress levels which, you guessed it, can make heartburn get worse! A magnesium bath (or even a soothing foot soak) and using your magnesium oil will aid sleep, lower stress and hopefully reduce those nasty heartburn symptoms.
7 - Lower stress
For me, pregnancy was a pretty stressful time. And I think, knowing what I know now, this was partly because I had depleted magnesium levels. I’d love to do it again (not really, not now!) now I understand about getting enough magnesium, to see if it would make a difference.
I had bad morning sickness and could only tolerate white bread and hot chips, so my magnesium intake was low (refined, high carb foods contain no magnesium and actually use up your existing magnesium as the body processes them). Plus I was quite anxious anyway, and anxiety is a vicious circle – the more anxious you are, the more magnesium you burn through, so the more anxious you get!
Getting enough magnesium helps lower your stress and anxiety levels because magnesium supports your adrenal glands, and it helps produce and release serotonin, your brain's feel-good chemical.
So, do any of these sound like something transdermal magnesium could help you with?
Any Epsom salt will work, but if you’d like to try one of our natural blends, we’d recommend SO:Relaxing. Please note that SO:Uplifting isn’t recommended during pregnancy as it contains Clary Sage essential oil, which can cause contractions of the uterus.
PS – Magnesium is thought to have some input into getting pregnant in the first place. Dr Sherry Rogers explains that, just as migraines can be caused by spasms in brain arteries, so infertility might be caused by spasms in the Fallopian tubes. Carolyn Dean in ‘The Magnesium Miracle’ mentions that some women, who hadn't been able to conceive, were successful when they followed a whole foods diet and supplemented with vitamins and minerals including magnesium.
As well as enhancing conception, supplementing your magnesium can support a healthier pregnancy, as this important mineral is required in larger amounts at this time.
A final point, with regards to conception - men with fertility issues have much lower levels of magnesium, so supplementation may be worth considering for them too.
NB – this information does not constitute medical advice. You may wish to speak with your preferred health care professional about the suitability of transdermal magnesium for your situation.
It is generally considered safe to use magnesium oil or take Epsom salt baths while pregnant. Though please take care when getting in and out of the bath – remember, your centre of gravity has shifted and you might not be as agile or balanced as usual!
If you’re having a bath while pregnant, ensure the water temperature is warm, not hot – you don’t want to raise your body temperature over 39 degrees. It’s also best to keep baths to under 15 minutes.
At Salt & Oil we make magnesium-filled bath soaks and magnesium oil sprays to help you relax and feel good. And we support other NZ businesses by stocking their well-being gifts.
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