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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 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.

 

 

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The 4 Ways Massage Helps You Beat Stress During Your Pregnancy

While a welcomed blessing for most, pregnancy brings world of change for all involved. Pregnancy is a time of turbulent emotions, from euphoria and joy to emotional upheaval and anxiety. Relationship, financial and socio-economic stressors can impact the mother’s experience of pregnancy.

 

Flight or Fight

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system – the body’s internal “flight-or-fight” response when we experience stress. This response stimulates the production of adrenaline, which can be helpful in responding to emergencies, such as stopping a child from running across a busy road, or slamming of the breaks to avoid a collision with another car. However, chronic and continual arousal of the sympathetic nervous system can have detrimental effects to health. In this state, blood supply in prioritised, and can impact the amount of oxygen and blood circulation to the baby.

Most child birth education programs focus on relaxation. There is an increased chance for positive birth experiences in addition to increased well-being for mother and baby when stress-reduction activities become a part of the mother’s routine.

 

Relax and Let Go

Relaxation elicits the parasympathetic nervous system, creating physiological balance and improved functioning. When functioning in a relaxed state, the mother will have steady blood pressure and blood and circulation to the uterus, foetus and placenta; improved immune system functioning; and the ability to respond better to stressful events and a reduced experience of anxiety.

In addition to creating bolstering feelings of well-being, improving functioning and increasing optimism, certain types of massage are relaxing, and cause the mother to shift her focus internally and “let go” of the outside world. This internal reflection is not only soothing, but it can prepare the mother for labour and birth.

Massage is conductive to eliciting relaxation responses as the setting is quiet with minimal disruptions and regular and deep breathing rates can be sustained.

 

Massage the Cornerstone of Relaxation

Pregnancy massage is a time to pause and acknowledge the physical, emotional and mental changes that occur during pregnancy. Not every pregnancy is the same, so treatment is tailored to suit the needs of mum-to-be. Pregnancy Massage uses techniques specific to the common musculoskeletal issues that are unique to pregnancy.

Some of the benefits of pregnancy massage include:

  • Reduced back and joint pain, making you feel more comfortable as your baby develops
  • Improved circulation and blood supply for your baby
  • Reduced oedema and swelling, creating a feeling of lightness
  • Reduced muscle tension and headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety, as massage soothes the nervous system and boosts mood
  • Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
  • Better sleep

 

Comfort Matters

Pregnancy massage is a soothing and nurturing treatment. The comfort of the mother-to-be is paramount and as such, treatment is performed side-lying, with pillows for support at the head and legs and a Denton’s pillow placed under the belly. From a side lying position, the massage therapist has access to the back, hips and glutes which are commonly sore and tense during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Massage assists in remedying many of the common discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as:

  • muscular discomforts, lower-back pain, upper-back pain, neck pain
  • headaches
  • leg cramps
  • sciatica
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • fatigue
  • oedema of the lower extremities
  • sacroiliac and hip joint pain
  • constipation

Ensuring the comfort of mum and baby are the number one priorities when providing a pregnancy treatment. The treatment will only begin when mum and baby feel comfortable on the massage table.

Coordinating your massage treatment with your GP, OB/GYN or midwife appointments ensures that we can provide you with the best treatment relative to you and your baby’s development.

If you would like more information or advice to see if Pregnancy Massage is right for you, contact us or book your next appointment now!

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Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

Mind the Bump – What Happens When There Are More Than Two People in The Treatment Room

 

It’s no secret that I love what I do. And why wouldn’t I? Every day, I am privileged to support women through pregnancy and into motherhood with massage.

We all know that massage is amazing for the usual aches and pain of life – from spending too much time at your desk, hunched over a computer – to pushing it too hard at the gym on leg day. But massage during pregnancy is a whole other ball game.

Pregnancy is a unique stage of human life and while the muscular discomforts that are experienced are the same, every pregnancy journey is different and affects women is acutely different ways.

One of my mums asked me “What makes pregnancy massage feel so good?” My simple reply was, “Well, I am massaging two of you, so the effect is doubled.”

One of the things that makes pregnancy massage so different is that there are two people on the massage table. And in the case of multiple babies, there will be three or even four people on the table!

One of the greatest privileges I have is massaging a pregnant woman’s abdomen. A lot of women shy away from this. And I get it, the stomach in a sensitive area for most women, especially if there are issues around body image and we tend to store a lot of emotions in this region. But especially in pregnancy, doctors and midwives poke and prod and even complete strangers feel the urge to touch your belly without consent.

In pregnancy massage balance is vital. Back spasms are common in pregnancy and this can be the bodies attempt to balance the body as the center of gravity shifts forward to cope with the weight of baby and postural changes.

The benefits of massaging the abdomen are numerous. Massage supports the abdominal muscles, eases the load on the lumbar spine and can aid in alleviating the abdominal separation. In addition to the physical benefits, massage can enhance the mother-baby connection. During this time, the mother can draw her attention to her abdomen and connect with the movements of her baby.

Quite often during am abdomen massage, I can feel the baby kick, or press again my palm. And I must admit this is a special moment too. It’s moments like this the may me realise that mum is not the only one receiving the benefits of the massage.

The quote “good for mum, good for baby” rings true in the scope of pregnancy massage. Whatever mum is experiencing, baby will experience.  It is important that mum makes time to relax and look after herself.

If you want to learn more about how massage can help you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

 

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.