Mother’s Day is less than a month away and so we wanted to share some of the milestones and challenges on our journey to motherhood. Overall my pregnancy was easy and everything had gone smoothly but, I faced 3 challenges that I want to share: leg cramps, anemia, and limited access to care during the Christmas holiday season.
LEG CRAMPS/ CHARLEY HORSE
Overall I had an easy pregnancy- no morning sickness, no excessive mood changes (I think), no real back pain, and only slight swelling despite 60+ lbs weight gain at the highest (I actually lost some weight in the third trimester). But. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. Were the leg cramps horrible! I didn’t know leg cramps were common in pregnancies (they are, particularly in the 2nd trimester) so I hadn’t expected them which made the first episode worse than it was because it scared me as much as it hurt. I was worried the cramping was a sign that something terrible was happening and I was going to lose my baby (again).
They were so frequent too. Almost every morning when I woke, I was greeted by an excruciating one. Anytime I tried to stretch, hello leg cramp. In a meeting at work? Cramp. Whenever I got to a good part of a movie? Yikes. Trying to eat lunch or dinner? Cramp and cramp. Sleep? Nah, it’s cramp time. I cramped so often that my legs were constantly tired and hurt like I had a really good workout.
They were so frequent that I couldn’t risk driving to work (or anywhere). When it was a severe cramp, which it often was in the 2nd trimester, the muscles in my leg (never both at the exact same time) would knot/ lump up and be rock hard and I would almost be immobile until the cramping stopped so I was worried that I would get into an accident if my leg cramped while I was driving.
5 THINGS I TRIED TO HELP PREVENT LEG CRAMPS
- Staying well hydrated
- Eating a calcium, potassium and magnesium rich diet (e.g. spinach, banana, yogurt, lentils, nuts & seeds, avocados etc.)
- Wearing compression stocking or socks (support hose)
- Stretching (shin and calf muscles in particular) and exercising
- Resting and taking breaks often (even from sitting or walking or standing)
I had originally dreaded wearing compression socks, also good for reducing swelling, because I had ignorantly thought they would look ugly, but there are compression socks that look just like regular socks. There were a large selection of compression socks with fun prints too!
5 THINGS I TRIED TO STOP/ RELIEVE LEG CRAMPS
- Running water down leg in the sink or shower
- Standing/ walking barefoot on a cold surface
- Straightening leg and flex toes
- Applying heat (heat pad)
Running water down my leg helped me the most while straightening my leg and stretching during a cramp sometimes helped but sometimes made it cramp worse for me.
ANEMIA/ B12 DEFICIENCY
Just went my legs stopped cramping as frequently, either due to my efforts above, or just because I was now in my 3rd trimester, my memory and concentration started to get notably terrible. I had thought maybe pregnancy brain isn’t just a myth. Turned out I was anemic, despite watching my nutrition closely on a daily basis. Ensuring I got enough of everything was partly why I had such a big +60 weight gain.
My obgyn sent me to a hematologist who recommended iron supplements and B12 injections. Luckily my legs were no longer cramping frequently because I had to drive to the hematologist often during my last trimester. After the initial 3x a week B12 loading doses, I still had to return weekly for the B12 injections.
I still got blood work every six months after giving birth because I had decided to nurse my daughter. When I stopped nursing, I also stopped monitoring my blood and last month, when I got a routine check up, I found out I was anemic again and made me worry about my daughter (since we have a similar diet) and I saw that it may affect IQ in children so I switched her multivitamin to one that includes iron too.
HELLO? IS EVERYONE SERIOUSLY ON VACATION?
I was supposed to get weekly B12 injections but the month before my due date, I was unable to find anyone to administer it. The hematologist I was seeing had gone on vacation and I couldn’t get any appointments with the doctors covering her. Getting care only got worse from that point.
My baby’s due date was right around Christmas, and at the beginning of December, at the 37 week visit, the obgyn said she was concerned that my baby will have a low birth weight (~6lbs) and referred me to a mfm specialist. But after arriving at the mfm’s office, the receptionist insisted I had no referral. I persisted so an assistant briefly talked to me- to advise me that the mfm can’t see me, but she had describe my situation to the mfm, and both she and the mfm felt that due to my size (only 5’3”) a ~6lb baby would be normal, not low or concerning, especially since fetal weight estimation by ultrasound had a 15% margin of error in 85-90% of cases. They do not believe I require mfm care and won’t set up any appointments for me.
I didn’t tell her that I had overheard her conversation with the mfm. I also didn’t tell her that she neglected to relay the part where the mfm’s opinion was that my obgyn was just trying to dump my care on her since it was the holidays.
When I went back to my obgyn, I suspect the mfm’s opinion was correct as my 3 remaining weekly obgyn appointments, made a few months in advance, were all cancelled without my knowledge. It was impossible to reschedule as no more appointments were available. As a result, I had no prenatal care or checkups for the last three weeks until I delivered.
These 3 challenges aside though, I was very lucky and had a relatively smooth and easy pregnancy. What challenges, if any, did you face in your pregnancy?
NOTE: Please note that there are some affiliate links in this post; these were just products I had success using and wanted to review and share. This post and blog are for information purpose only. I am not giving any kind of education or medical advice (I don’t know what’s what). Please consult your health care provider (pediatrician, physician, obgyn, mfm, hematologist, etc.) for diagnosis, treatment and medical advice.
Links/ resources for Pregnancy Leg Cramps/ Charley Horses:
- What to Expect
- Top 10 High Magnesium Foods
- Top 10 High Potassium Foods
- Top 10 High Calcium Foods