A growing fetus needs a healthy environment to develop and thrive! Your lymphatic system is key to that process – boosting bodily immunity and carrying away harmful toxic buildup, while reducing inflammation. Great news for moms-to-be – healthily functioning lymphatic circulation also contributes to reduced swelling in the hands and feet during pregnancy!
What is the Lymphatic System?
Your lymph system is a complex highway of veins and lymph nodes, closely related to the cardio-vascular system. It is responsible for the healthy performance of many bodily functions, including weight control, immunity, the cleansing of blood cells, and detoxification. It helps deliver white blood cells and T cells – our body’s natural immunity warriors – and has the added benefit of reducing fat accumulation and cellulite when functioning correctly.
Why daily Lymphatic maintenance is crucial to both mom and baby during pregnancy
A growing fetus has its own natural barriers against toxins and bacteria that may travel with the mother’s blood through the umbilical cord. It’s called the placenta. While this fluid-sac acts as a shield, protecting baby from harmful exposure to things that may compromise its own burgeoning immune system, it does not stop viruses from entering. While this isn’t normally an issue for mother or child, it is nevertheless best to help support your body naturally eliminate toxic waste, boosting your own immune system while helping to protect baby’s.
Plus, lymphatic support can help decrease swelling of the limbs, which means greater comfort for mom!
Try these 5 simple daily (or weekly) practices to increase lymphatic circulation – for health, for peace of mind, and for overall comfort:
1. Aromatherapy – do you soak your feet at night? Try adding these 4 ingredients for maximum relief from pregnancy-related swelling:
· Lavender Oil – lavender carries a soothing sent that helps to relax nervous tension in the body, as well as to increase blood circulation.
· Cypress Oil – cypress helps relieve the body of excess water and salt, while stimulating blood flow.
· Chamomile Oil – chamomile is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps soothe nerves and relieve anxiety. It also has the added benefit of helping to support glandular secretion, which in turn helps flush out toxic buildup in the body.
· Epsom Salt – Epsom salt is a well-known muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory treatment. It also helps to cleanse and detoxify the body.
· Use with caution. Many women experience heightened sensitivity to strong smells during pregnancy.
2. Swimming – swimming is a low-impact exercise, which allows you to focus on deep breathing, stretching, and continuous movement. It helps to condition the full body, strengthening and toning, while significantly reducing the strain baby-weight can have on joints - especially around the hips, knees, and ankles.
3. If you are unable to swim, try a Floatation service instead. Skin-temperature water at shallow depths (eliminating the danger of drowning) saturated with several hundred pounds of Epsom salt allows for an easy, restful experience of weightlessness. The muscles and tissue unwind and relax their grip around areas of inflammation and swelling, promoting healthy circulation while activating detoxification through the skin. This service has the added benefit of allowing you to experience what baby is experiencing while floating in the womb, and is usually available with a sensory deprivation option.
4. Diet – try changing your diet wherever possible by cutting out highly-processed foods and reducing your sugar, salt, and unhealthy fat intake. Instead, choose foods that are naturally rich in vitamins C (citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli) and E (sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds). Remember to stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water (preferably distilled, reverse-osmosis, purified, and/or alkaline water). While water intake is important during any and every stage of development, pregnant or not, it is especially important in helping your lymphatic system flow and therefore keeping your immune system operating at its peak.
5. Leg Elevation – Make sure to elevate those legs each night, or whenever you find yourself sitting for long periods of time! Explore online resources to find the best leg elevation pillow, or use multiple regular pillows with a medium-to-high firmness stacked to a comfortable height above heart level. Make sure to keep your knees bent!
Of course, the best way to support your lymphatic system would be with one of our Manual Lymphatic Drainage massages. While it is necessary to build your own daily practice, it’s also imperative to take the time to learn more about your body by putting yourself in the gentle hands of an expert every once in a while. As trained professionals specifically certified in this modality, our Massage Therapists directly stimulate greater flow in the Lymphatic System and often see results within the first session. They will also take care to answer your questions and are known to give wonderful home-maintenance advice specific to your needs.
Either way, start slowly, and move at your own pace. Your body will thank you for it!