Pregnancy Leg Cramps

Those stabbing calf pains that wake you up at 2:00 a.m.? One of the not so fun parts of pregnancy. I thought I knew what leg cramps felt like -- until I hit the third trimester. It’s not a dull ache or general soreness, but an OMGWHATISHAPPENING sensation when you panic, suddenly realizing you can’t flex your foot because your calf muscle has  gone rigid.

I’d always assumed that pregnancy leg cramps were a sign of dehydration or maybe because I needed to eat another banana, but it turns out that there’s no real consensus on what causes them. According to the March of Dimes, doctors cite a variety of potential causes for pregnancy leg cramps, including changes in blood circulation, stress on leg muscles from carrying around extra weight, and/or the increased pressure applied to blood vessels and nerves by a growing baby.

So how can you prevent leg cramps during pregnancy?

  • Take magnesium supplements. There isn’t much evidence to support calcium or sodium supplements, as previously recommended, but growing research suggests that a magnesium supplement might be beneficial. One study of women who took an oral magnesium supplement indicated a significant reduction in both intensity and frequency of leg cramps during pregnancy compared to a control group (Supakatisant and Phupong 2012). The women in the study took 300 mg of magnesium bisglycinate chelate daily and saw a 50% improvement in their leg cramps. Obviously, this is an ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST recommendation, but it’s worth checking into if your leg cramps are killing you.
  • Stretch before bed. Try a “runner’s stretch” or a “standing calf stretch” before bedtime. The runner’s stretch looks like this. Hold it for 30 seconds on each side, being careful to keep your feet parallel. Also, avoid pointing your toes - while stretching or at bed at night.
  • Drink more water. Even though dehydration isn’t a specific cause of pregnancy leg cramps, staying well hydrated can still help ward off the pain (Mayo Clinic). The general recommendation is that pregnant women should drink 8-10 8 oz glasses of water per day. If you’re unsure about your hydration level, you can always reference this helpful urine color chart from the Cleveland Clinic.

How can you find relief when a leg cramp does strike in the middle of the night?

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Caramelized White Hot Chocolate

caramelized white hot chocolate l Hellobee

So, how is everyone's holiday season going? I aim to be the kind of person who takes December in stride, staying above the the fray when it comes to stress and general busyness, but if I'm being real the past week really wore me down. When I start feeling tightness in my shoulders and become unable to focus, I know it's time to take a breather - an adult time out if you will.

The good thing about self-prescribed time outs? They involve treats. And given the time of year, hot chocolate seemed appropriate, but I wanted to take it in a different direction to pull me out of my funk. I eschewed my beloved dark chocolate for white, but not just any white - this is white chocolate all grown up. It's caramelized to bring out more toasty, sophisticated flavors to balance out its sweetness. Combined with milk and a pinch of salt, it's a rich, warming dessert in a mug to encourage savoring and, therefore, slowing down.

caramelized white chocolate l Hellobee

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DIY Cupcake Liner Party Hats

My friend Minhee wanted to make Charlie a party hat at the last minute and looked at what she already had around her apartment. Her eyes landed on some cupcake liners, and she decided to make little elf hats! This is an easy DIY that you can personalize any way you want and bring a little color to your event!

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Vintage Toys for the Holidays

As a first time mom, I have no idea what to get my son for his first Christmas. I’ve spent hours walking up and down the aisles at Babies R Us and Target and been lost in the black hole that is Amazon.com. Though I don’t pretend to know what is cool and hip for kids these days, I am able to look back on all the things I loved growing up, and I’m happy to say that some of our old-timey favorites have hit the stores again! Baby Sea Otter has a bit longer until he's more focused on what the present is rather than the fun of pulling the wrapping paper off of a box, but I've had to snatch up a few of these classics for later holidays just in case they slip away again.

1. Fisher Price See N Say – I’m sure that most of us learned the noises that animals make by playing with the See N Say. What animal will it land on? What noise will that animal make? Why is it so much fun to pull the string and watch the arrow turn? These are all questions that our kids can now also ask.

2. Fisher Price Record Player – As an 80s child, I can recall almost all of my tunes being played via record player. I have not lost my sense of nostalgia, and still proudly play many albums on vinyl. I hope that this teaches Baby Sea Otter how cool these old-timey devices can be.

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10 Ways to Make the Most Out Of Baby's First Christmas

I have to admit for our first Christmas with Jackson this year, I originally put a lot of pressure on myself to make it special. I'm such a huge fan of the Christmas season, and I'm constantly looking for ways to make it more special. But, in all honesty, Christmas loses a lot of the magic when you're stressed about everything being perfect. So I finally decided to let go and enjoy it as it happens, and if we get around to everything we want to do, that's just even better.

That being said, I've still tried to do what I can do make things a little more memorable than usual. Here are a few ideas for making sure your savor your first Christmas with your little one!

1. Make a "Christmas bucket list" - this is a favorite activity that we do every year, and it's a great way to make sure we don't miss out on any of the fun holiday activities we love so much. We used to create an activity advent calendar, but it put too much pressure on us to get an activity done every night, so now we come up with a list of 15 or so things we want to do over the course of the month. This year the list is looking a lot more baby oriented, and we tried to think of activities that Jackson can enjoy with us. This has helped us stay focused on enjoying the season and taking some time regularly for holiday activities.

2. Send out Christmas cards. I absolutely love Christmas cards, but the last couple of years we have skipped them due to finances. This year I was absolutely determined to send them out, so we bought some generic cards on sale at Target, took a cute family photo in the backyard, and used washi tape to attach one to the inside of each card. I still get the personalized feel that I love and Mr. Garland is happy because it was way cheaper than ordering them online!

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Gifts that Keep on Giving

As we get older the more we realize that for the most part, we and our friends and family members have all they NEED, so gift giving can get a little more creative. And what better way to spend money on things that not only benefit the recipient, but also someone else along the line!

So, here's a list of places we've found that we love supporting while also gift giving.

1. Our favorite (and local!) business is Thistle Farms.

Thistle farms sells awesome, totally natural body products, like body wash, body butter, bath salts, and more, like coffee, mugs, and candles. But, the part that's even better than the quality is that these products are made by "women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction, and all proceeds directly support their efforts to sustain independent, healthy lives." We love these products and being able to support the healing process of these women!

2. Kiva.org

If you haven't heard of Kiva.org yet, I'm so excited to share it with you! When you give a Kiva donation, you are providing a small micro-loan to people all over the world to help start a business of their own! The awesome thing is that you get to choose exactly who you give a loan to and you get to see their pictures and hear about what they would use the loan for. And because it's a loan and they have really high rates of payback, you will eventually get your money back and then you can invest that money back in someone else!

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DIY Time Capsule Ornament

My good friend Minhee helped me plan Charlie's birthday party, and she came up with the idea to let the kids make their own polaroid ornaments as favors. Each kid had a mini polaroid taken of themself, and then put it inside their ornament and filled it with fun little bobbles.

I thought this would also be a great family project to do each Christmas as a DIY time capsule ornament. You could fill an ornament with a family picture, little trinkets that represent each person or what happened to them that year, and even a little note! I can imagine how much fun it'll be to make these every year and reminisce on ones from years past when you pull them out each Christmas.

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