A woman’s body undergoes many transformations during the nine months of pregnancy. Between hormonal changes, expanding belly, weight gain, mood swings, morning sickness and postural changes, the circulatory system needs to adapt to be capable of providing adequate nutrition to the mother and baby. During these 9 months of pregnancy, the blood volume and the extracellular volume increase progressively and provoke adaptations in all cardiovascular system.
As result, the veins are not able to circulate blood as efficiently as usual, resulting in blood stagnation in the lower limbs and the growing womb puts extra pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area, which slows down the blood circulation and cause water retention as well.
Especially from the third trimester, with weight gain and growing fetus (approximately 2.6kg of weight is gained by the fetus on the last trimester), edema or water retention is a frequent symptom described between mums to be. The swelling legs and ankles usually bring discomfort and heaviness feeling, often causing numbness and pain.
As compression stockings can be particularly uncomfortable, especially on summer, the manual lymphatic drainage can be an important ally to the pregnancy massage, helping to boost the circulation in a gentle and safe way.
The manual lymphatic strokes can be easily incorporated in the normal pregnancy massage. With stimulation of lymph nodes (structures that filter large particles and remove foreign substances before the lymph empties into the veins) and gentle strokes moving in the same direction of the lymph flow, the therapist can help to transport the lymphatic fluid away from the congested area, reducing the edema and improving the circulation. The slow rhythm of these movements associated with the light pressure promotes a deep relaxation feeling, helping to reduce anxiety and helping to achieve a better sleep.
With no excess of fluid congested with toxins, proteins and microorganisms, our cells can exchange oxygen in more effective way, increasing the tissue nutrition.
Manual lymphatic drainage can be an enjoyable part of the prenatal care, helping to reduce or prevent edema, improving the circulation and boosting the immunity system. This technique can be safely incorporated with the pregnancy massage from the second trimester till the end of the pregnancy.
Tips to prevent and reduce swelling in the legs:
Associated with good diet and hydration, here few other tips to help mums to prevent and reduce swelling in the legs:
- Avoid standing for long periods of time
- Put your feet up for few minutes everyday
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that do not put pressure on any part of the body
- Keep up with your prenatal exercises
- Walking is a good way to boost the circulation