At our markets and on email and social media, we get a LOT of questions about magnesium and pregnancy!
Most of the time, people are looking to alleviate those painful pregnancy leg cramps for themselves or someone they know. (And, yes, magnesium can definitely help with that, just like it can help with restless legs or other muscle cramps!)
However, there are several other reasons to use magnesium during pregnancy. One of them is that the body’s mineral needs change during pregnancy. In Transdermal Magnesium Therapy (2011), Dr. Mark Sircus writes that “During pregnancy the body needs more minerals and estrogen takes care of the higher absorption” (p. 139). He also writes that
In all likelihood pregnancy cannot be normal unless magnesium levels are adequate. The concentration of magnesium in the placental and fetal tissues increases during pregnancy. The requirements for this element in a pregnant woman’s organism generally exceed its supply; hence, pregnancy should be considered a condition of ‘physiological hypomagnesemia’ [...] During pregnancy, magnesium helps build and repair body tissue in both mother and fetus. A severe deficiency during pregnancy may lead to preeclampsia, birth defects, and infant mortality. Magnesium relaxes muscles and research suggests that proper levels of magnesium during pregnancy can help keep the uterus from contracting until week 35 (p. 236-237).
If people's magnesium levels are inadequate and they go into labor early, hospitals will often use intravenous magnesium sulfate to stop labor.
For those for whom a caesarian section is necessary, it is important to know that supplementing with magnesium can be helpful in the weeks before the surgery (if the C-section is planned) and the weeks following, as any surgery places a great deal of stress on the body and can deplete magnesium stores. Sircus claims that “Surgeons need to become familiar with the transdermal approach for then they can start their patients off with heavy application weeks before surgery and for weeks after since this method of application can easily be done at home by the patients” (2011, p. 127).
And, finally, for those who are trying to become pregnant, it is important to know that “Magnesium is needed for reproductive fertility and the use of pharmaceutical contraceptives is known to diminish magnesium stores in our body” (Sircus, 2011, p. 239). In other words, if you are planning to stop taking pharmaceutical contraceptives like the pill, it may be helpful to add magnesium to your routine as part of that process! While other factors like thyroid levels, other hormones, and inflammation also affect fertility (functional medicine practitioners can help with these), restoring your magnesium levels is always helpful.
If you’re looking to try our magnesium balms for pregnancy, know that lavender oil is generally considered safe for the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy, so our Sleep Balm can be used then. (We would definitely not advise using our Recovery, Immunity, or Little Buffalo Balms, as the essential oils are not safe for pregnancy.)
However, because so many essential oils are not recommended for the first trimester of pregnancy, we would recommend our Simply Balm (which has all of our magnesium and emollient ingredients but does not contain any essential oils) for the 1st trimester as well for use while breastfeeding.
And we always advise (especially if your pregnancy is considered high risk) consulting your doctor before supplementing with any new mineral. They may encourage the use of transdermal magnesium, or they may find that another form of magnesium is more appropriate for you to use instead of the transdermal magnesium or alongside it. The most important thing to remember is that magnesium can support a healthy pregnancy in many ways!