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The Vital Role Lymph Plays in Pregnancy

…and how we can help!

 

Puffy and swollen hands and feet. Restless and uncomfortable sleep. Stress and nervous tension. Hormonal imbalances. All of these are normal symptoms of pregnancy. BUT – Just because it’s normal – does not mean you have to put up with in!

In this blog we explore the lymphatic system and the vital role it plays in pregnancy and how our experienced team can help you feel radiant during your pregnancy!

 

What is the Lymphatic System and What does it do?

A network of delicate tubes and nodes throughout the body, the role of the lymphatic system is to drain fluid (called lymph) that is leaked from blood vessels and return it to the blood stream.

The lymphatic system plays a role in several bodily function including managing fluid levels in the body, reacting to bacteria, dealing with cell products that would result in disease or disorder (including cancer cells) and absorbing some fats in our diet from the intestine.

The lymphatic system maintains the fluid levels in our body tissues by removing fluid that is leaked from our blood vessels. Optimal functioning is vital to ensure that our immune system and other bodily functions are working well.

When the lymphatic system is compromised, fluids cannot drain and the tissues swell, becoming puffy and uncomfortable.

 

What happens to the lymph system during pregnancy?

During pregnancy fluid retention and swelling is common. This can be the result of hormonal changes impacting the veins, reducing blood circulation and causing blood to stagnate in the lower limbs. The growing womb also places pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvis, slowing blood circulation and causing water retention in the lower limbs. This is why it is common to experience swelling in the legs and feet during the later stages of pregnancy.

 

How does a Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage work?

The first ting to keep in mind is that Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is not the same as a remedial pregnancy massage. A remedial pregnancy massage will focus on soft tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments and helping these structures to soften and relax. An MLD massage focuses on the lymph and encourages this fluid to flow around the body. A remedial pregnancy massage may sometimes require deeper (but not necessarily firmer) pressure to ease the tension in soft tissues, while an MLD treatment requires light pressure on the surface structures of the skin to have a lasting effect.

While very different in their techniques and approach, both remedial pregnancy massage and MLD can be used in combination to support the changes that occur in the body due to pregnancy. So, its not a question of either/or but rather combining both types of treatment throughout the pregnancy to achieve exceptional health.

 

Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage effective?

The short answer is Yes! MLD is effective in reducing swelling in the legs that is caused by fluid retention or pressure from the growing uterus. A study by Oportus et al 2013 found that lymph drainage for women in the second and third trimester reduced swelling in the legs.

And that’s not all! Not only can MLD be effective in treating Swollen legs or arms due to fluid retention, it can also assist in alleviating carpal tunnel syndrome, headaches, diabetes, depression & anxiety and hormonal & emotional imbalances.

 

What’s The Next Step?

We have an experienced and specialised team, dedicated to empowering women to achieve exceptional health during pregnancy, into motherhood and beyond.

To find out more about how Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage can support you during your pregnancy here or call us on 0407 512 009.

To book your next Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage click here.

 

 

References:

Oportus et al 2013, ‘Lymph Drainage in Pregnant Women’, Nursing Research and Practice, Volume 2013

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819918/

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7 Things You Didn’t Know About Reflexology

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Reflexology

The aim of Reflexology treatment is to aid relaxation and provide stress and pain relief. Reflexology is based on the principle that there are “reflex” areas in the hands and feet that correspond to the glands, organs and systems of the body. Eastern philosophies or Reflexology link reflex points to the meridians, while Western philosophies of Reflexology focuses on zones of the body.

Using acupressure techniques, reflexes in the feet are stimulated during a Reflexology treatment, eliciting involuntary responses from organs and glands related to the reflex areas treated. This stimulation can cause physiological changes within the body, such as hormonal balance, and deep relaxation. Karen Robertson, qualified and experienced Reflexologist explains the 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Reflexology.

#1.  Vital for Total Wellbeing

Reflexology is not just a nice foot massage for tired feet – it is good for your overall health as well.  Each part of your foot corresponds to a part of your body, so by massaging the feet, you are in fact treating the whole body.  Hence the word “reflexology”:  you treat one area to influence another area or reflex point.

 

#2. Boost the Immune System

You can give you immune system a boost by not only improving your circulation but your digestive functioning as well. The gut is the centre of your wellbeing. If there are problems here, this can have a direct influence on your immune system. Certain reflexology points target the digestive system to support its healthy functioning.

 

#3. Help Tame Your Hormone Monster

Reflexology is especially good for women going through any hormonal change in their life, and this doesn’t just mean menopause – it’s also great for the post-natal ups and downs. At any stage of life, you can support your emotional wellbeing.

 

#4. Labour Support

There are points on the feet that can help expectant mum’s through a long and tiresome labour by ‘speeding things up’. The endocrine system plays a very important part in the process of childbirth. A reflexology treatment may be able to influence the endocrine system to support labour, helping you to say “hello” to your bundle of joy a little bit sooner!

 

#5. Relax the Mind, Body and Spirit

Reflexology can be relaxing for the mind/body/spirit than a full body massage.  In fact, it competes for top of the snooze list with Lymph Drainage, both modalities being able to access the parasympaticus, or subconscious body – which is the best state to be in for self-healing.

 

#6. Support a Healthy Body

Reflexology is not a soft tissue treatment – ok, the feet DO feel great afterwards – but its greatest advantage is being able to access problems in bodily organs and systems. While Reflexology is not a diagnostic tool for health issues, it can support healthy functioning of organs and systems in the body.

 

#7. Age-Old Healing

Reflexology has been practiced for at least 5,000 years. In fact, in some parts of the world it is still a prerequisite training for many health professionals, particularly midwives and palliative caregivers.

 

For more information on how Reflexology can help you or to book an appointment head to http://lauracalderonemassage.com

 

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The 7 Ways To Sleep Like A Baby During Pregnancy… and Beyond

Did you know that you will spend 1/3 of your life sleeping? Yet so many of us find it difficult to either fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up feeling refreshed.

As a massage therapist I am used to expectant mums falling asleep on the treatment table, which is why I have compiled my top tips to sleeping like a baby during pregnancy and beyond.

If you are not planning on having any more kids, read on, these tips can help you too!

 

  1. Set the Mood

Having a comfortable and cozy bedroom set up can help you drift of deeply and easily. Making sure that your bedroom is dark, that temperature is not too hot and that your bedding and linen is nice and soft. A dark bedroom will help you regulate your natural sleep hormone, melatonin and ensure that you can rest easily. If your room is too bright due to street lights, or other disturbances, you can always try using an eye mask to block out light.

As a massage therapist I am extremely kinesthetic (ie touchy feely) the way fabrics feel are so important to me! I will treat myself to plush 1000 sheet thread count sheets and soft fabrics because I know how important it is for me to feel comfortable.

 

  1. Create a Sleep Ritual

We are creatures of habit. We eat the same thing for breakfast, brush our teeth the same way, put our pants on the same way, drive the same route to work. And when we are trying to sleep, certain habits can signal that it’s time to unwind and go to dream land.

Having a routine can help you to unwind from a busy day. You can try to create good sleep habits by setting and sticking to a bed time, having a shower or bath and stretching before bed. Many of the tips in this blog can be included in your sleep routine, such as writing down your worries and meditating. It is important to stick to the same routine on weekends as well so that you can form a new helpful habit. Whatever you do, creating a routine around sleep can form a vital step to improving your quality and quantity of sleep.

 

  1. Meditate

With our busy lives its important to make time to stop. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Experts say that we have around 60,000 – 80,000 per day. That’s incredible! Our brain is non-stop chatting away to us, helping us to interpret our lives. But, when we are trying to sleep, it can be hard to stop the chatter. One way to do this is to meditate. Making a conscious effort to still the mind.

If you are a beginner, you can start by becoming still and focusing on your breathing. Sit still. And take a few slow deep breaths. Focus your mind on each in breath and out breath. If you get distracted by thoughts, that’s OK, just return to the breath once you realize when has happened.

If you struggle to meditate on your own there are a trillion apps that can help. Just search your app store on your smart phone and find one that suits you.

 

  1. Write your worries down

For some reason it can take a weight off your mind to see your worries written in front of you. And the best thing is – there is not right or wrong way to do this. Perhaps you need to vent your spleen and get your emotions out on paper. Or maybe you have so much to do and you don’t know where to start, so you write a to do list for yourself.  Whatever you do, writing is a cathartic way to express worries, fears and anxieties in such a way that makes them appear more manageable.

Worrying about something at 3am is pointless, because there is nothing you can do – everyone else is asleep. Writing down what you want to do about the worry can be helpful as it will free your mind from having to remember it. If it is written down, then you can read it in the morning after you have had a great night’s sleep.

 

  1. No devices in the bedroom

Experts in sleep will tell you to remove devices such as smart phones, TVs and laptops from the bedroom. The reason is that the blue light emitted from these devices messes up our circadian rhythm (our wakefulness and sleepiness patterns) and can reduce melatonin, the hormone that is essential for sleep.

And I can already hear you say, “But my phone is my alarm, I need it in the bedroom”. Well guess what – Kmart have $10 alarm clock radios AND I am sure that if you charged your phone in another room and set your alarm tone to the loudest setting, you will be able to hear it. Plus, the act of getting up to turn the alarm off will prevent you from hitting the snooze button 100 times.

 

  1. Regular massage

“I’m sorry if I fall asleep” is a common phrase I hear in the treatment room. Exhausted expectant mums, craving blissful slumber. Massage during pregnancy helps to ease nervous tension and helps mum to relax. As massage reduces muscular tension, you will feel more relaxed and reduce the sleep disturbances that may be caused by bodily aches and pains

A relaxed mum will be able to sleep more easily and deeply.  And the proof Is in the pudding, a lot of my expectant mum’s tell me that they have had the best nights sleep the night of their massage treatment.

 

  1. Build a pillow fort

Expectant mums are often overwhelmed when they see the number of pillows that I use in a massage treatment. But once they are on the table, they feel relaxed and supported and most importantly comfortable. During pregnancy, side lying is the recommended sleeping position and the following set up will help you feel relaxed and comfortable.

I recommend the use of the Denton’s pregnancy pillow to support the growing belly and reduce ligament strain in the abdomen, then place a fat but firm pillow between the knees to take pressure off the lower back, and pop finally a “cuddle” pillow between the forearms to keep the shoulders square and to reduce neck strain and carpal tunnel symptoms.

You can see a video on how to roll the “Cuddle” pillow here: https://www.facebook.com/lauracalderonemassagetherapy/videos/1072004672939531/

You don’t need to be pregnant to replicate the pillow fort, in fact, this set up will help you reduce low back, hip and shoulder pain while you sleep.

You can see a video on the table set up here: https://www.facebook.com/lauracalderonemassagetherapy/videos/1606674316144866/

 

If you would like more information about our services contact us or book your next appointment now!

 

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7 Secrets For A Comfortable Pregnancy and Labour

It’s really no secret that pregnancy can be difficult at times. Aside from the morning sickness (or any time of day sickness), aches and pain, swollen feet and insomnia seem to be part and parcel of growing a tiny human from scratch.
But that doesn’t mean you need to struggle through it.

I speak to a lot of mums and couples that are anxious about labour and childbirth. I have discovered that it doesn’t matter if it’s your first pregnancy or your second or third, anxiety and apprehension can still exist.

In my latest blog post, I delve into the secrets to make pregnancy and birth a better experience, pooling together all the conversations I have had with my clients so far.

 

  1. Regular Massage (before baby comes along)

A no brainer for me, the pregnancy massage specialist. Massage during pregnancy can help reduce back and joint pain, improve circulation and blood supply for your baby, and improve sleep. But did you know that massage also reduces stress and anxiety, as it soothes the nervous system and boosts mood. Pregnancy massage is a specialized treatment that uses techniques specific to the common musculoskeletal issues that are unique to pregnancy, while also promoting relaxation and enhancing the mother-baby connection. Learn more about pregnancy massage here.

  1. Nutrition

During pregnancy proper nutrition is important. I often treat mums who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I always recommend my clients seek support from a dietitian or nutritionist if they need help during their pregnancy.  When it comes to Labour, remember its long-game. Plan and ensure that you are fueling your body with nourishing food that will go the distance. Small regular snacks can help.

  1. Pea-sized Bladder

One thing I ask my clients before their massage is if they need to go to the bathroom before we start the treatment. During pregnancy you will go to the toilet – frequently. Afterall, you do have a tiny human using your bladder as a pillow, so there’s no wonder why you have the urge to pee every 5 minutes (or less).

  1. Get More Sleep

Pregnant women are tired. Why? Well, it takes a lot of energy to create a whole new person. It’s exhausting work. Massage during pregnancy can help to improve sleep patterns. Often my clients tell me that slept well the night of their massage. During the early stages of labour It may seem like an impossible task – but try to sleep. As we are mammals, we tend to natural labour at night, when it is safest. Try to rest as much as you can. This will help to build you energy reserves as labour can last forever!

  1. Do a Poo before you bear down

Bearing down and pushing a baby from your vagina mimics the actions required to do a poo. And women can poo during birth. Simple as that. But not to worry, the doctors and nurses will ensure that your baby is not covered in poo, and the clean-up will be swift and quick. It will mean however that another boundary between you and your partner will be crossed. But hey, at the end of the day you will have a baby and what is better than that?

  1. Hang out in Down Dog

Gentle exercise during pregnancy can help support your body as it changes. Relaxing in the lead up to labour will do wonders once contractions start. Most pre-natal yoga classes focus on breathwork, as well as movement and stretching. You can use these techniques in the birth suite to help you feel comfortable and relaxed.

  1. Labour Massage

Having partner confident if giving massage can help mum to feel more relaxed, with reduced feelings of anxiety and apprehension about the birth. Physical touch can boost oxytocin, a must for labour, and massage can bring couples closer together. Massage at home and then recommencing at hospital can help to stabilize contractions, which often stall during travel from home to hospital (or other birth place). Plus, massage gives your partner a role during labour and helps them to become involved in the birth. Learn more about partner massage here.

 

If you would like more information about our services contact us or book your next appointment now!

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The 7 Words I Hate To Hear In The Treatment Room

Being a massage therapist is a pretty rewarding career. Every day, I get the opportunity to help women relax and feel more comfortable during their pregnancy. I am completely comfortable talking to my clients about the various aches and pains common in pregnancy, even the ones that are often a taboo to speak of in public (did someone say vulvar varicose veins?! Ouch!). Needless to say nothing really shocks me much anymore. But – there is still ONE sentence that grinds my gears and causes me to fume at the ears.

These Seven Words: “I’m sorry I didn’t shave my legs”.

So, why does it bug me so much when an expectant mum tells me that she hasn’t shaved her legs? As women, it’s part of our beauty regime. It’s what we do.  We shave, and wax and pluck.  And we sometime forget to do it on days when our legs will be exposed or seen by others. Oh, the Horror!

But ya know what? I don’t care! I don’t care if your legs are prickly and hairy cos you haven’t shaved them in a day or two or even a week! And while we are on the subject of things I don’t care about: I don’t care if your feet are sweaty or if you are wearing daggy undies or if you are wearing slobby clothes, or if you have dry skin.

I am not judging your body in any way – and I am just glad that you are wearing undies (as this is an occupational health and safety requirement). What I am doing is noting what your muscles look like. Is you posture in alignment or out of balance? Are your hips rotating more to one side? Is one shoulder tighter than the other? By looking beyond your superficial appearance I am trying to work out how you use your body and how to best treat it so that you feel amazing after your massage.

Might I add, that every single male client that I have treated has NEVER ever apologized for their hairy legs (or back for that matter).

We must stop feeling ashamed of our bodies and the natural hair that it grows. Leg hair, pit hair, smelly and sweaty feet at all normal. The sooner we embrace our bodies and the amazing the things that they do (such as create a tiny human from just a few tiny cells) the sooner you can feel at ease as soon as you lie on the massage table.

Here are some things I do care about:

I care that you make the time for massage during your pregnancy. Massage not only eases physical aches and pains, but can help expectant mums’ to ease nervous tension, improve sleep and supports the mother-baby connection.

I care that you are getting the support that you need throughout your pregnancy journey and into motherhood, whether that’s self-care after baby, information about postnatal exercise, coping with emotional changes.

I care that you arrive to your appointment on time so that I can dedicate as much time as possible to you and only you. I care that you make regular appointments as a commitment to yourself that you deserve time out and to feel good. I care that you tell me if the pressure is too firm, too soft or if something in the massage isn’t; quite right or if you are loving every single second and want another half hour on the table.

So, don’t sweat the small stuff. And I’ll do my best to care for you, hairy legs and all.

 

You can find out more about our services here. Ready to book your next appointment? Click here.