Lymphatic drainage - it's a term thrown around almost as much as antioxidants and anti-ageing. But do we really understand what it means and what this system does within our bodies? Do we understand how it can benefit our wellbeing, our health and of course, our skin?
Many of us may not, so we thought it was time we dissect the whats of the lymphatic system, the whens of lymphatic drainage and the how and why lymphatic massage can positively impact the health of our skin during pregnancy and postpartum.
Drain to maintain
The lymphatic system is an important part of our immune system. With lymph fluid that circulates throughout our body just like blood, it's the front line of defence in fighting infection, eliminating toxins and metabolic waste from the body. Often referred to as our body's “drainage system”, the lymphatic system circulates lymph fluid, a clear fluid containing powerful white blood cells that help to fight infection and filter toxins.
Lymph vessels drain this fluid from our body tissue and our lymph nodes work with our immune system cells to identify waste and detoxify as needed to help 'cleanse' and prevent infection. Unlike the circulatory system, which has its own organ - the heart - to pump blood, the lymph system does not have its own pump. It only circulates in one direction, relying on the movement of our muscles and diaphragm to boost circulation.
During pregnancy, women can be prone to swelling in legs and feet, also known as Lymphatic Edema. This incredibly common condition is generally due to an increase in pressure on our major blood vessels because of the weight of the uterus and reduced overall circulation, resulting in uncomfortable swelling.
So what can WE do to help our own lymphatic system perform well?
Move it to lose it.
There are a few key rituals we can introduce daily to promote lymphatic drainage at a cellular level;
1. Massage: Whether is its self massage or with a practitioner, lymphatic massage helps to move lymph fluid and stimulate circulation. At home, use gentle massage in circular movements towards your heart. This can apply to both your body and your face, but whilst pregnant it’s best to focus on legs, lower back and face. Our tip; try stimulating your senses as well as your skin by massaging your body with our soothing oil, Calm it, Baby, to enhance this process. It contains both Lavender and Chamomile, which will help circulation and support glandular secretion to flush out toxins.
2. Dry body brushing: Daily body brushing before your shower or bath is a great way to stimulate the lymphatic system and the bonus is that it will also loosen and remove any dead skin cells to help skin regenerate. How we do: we recommend dry brushing daily followed by massaging our Motherlover body oil into skin to promote circulation and boost collagen.
3: Exercice: One of the best ways to aid lymphatic circulation is by keeping moving, which can be hard the further into our pregnancies we are. Gentle yoga incorporating breathing and muscular contraction, both aid lymph circulation. Swimming is also a great low-impact exercise to promote continuous movement and focus on breath. If exercise is just not an option, focus on elevating your legs each night to allow gravity to help boost lymphatic circulation.
4: Breathing: We do it anyway, so why not utilise it and breathe with intention? When you incorporate deep breathing techniques into your daily rituals, the movement of your diaphragm assists lymphatic circulation, helping to detoxify and boost your health every day.
What a drainer.
When practiced regularly, lymphatic drainage can help to relax the nervous system and aid the body's immune system, helping to fight even the most everyday afflictions, such as sore throats, colds and infections by boosting immunity.
Lymphatic drainage is key in helping to reduce inflammation and enhance immune function by carrying away toxins and during pregnancy healthy lymph circulation can reduce swelling and fluid retention, improve skin tone and speed up injury healing time.
Postnatal massage also offer significant benefits in postpartum recovery. Whether it be to treat postpartum edema or to speed up the removal of excess fluid, it can take care of mental, emotional and physical health and promote a healthy breastfeeding and bonding by aiding the release of oxytocin.
A detox a day keeps dull skin away.
When handled gently, lymphatic drainage self massage can be a hugely beneficial part of our daily skin practice, during pregnancy and postpartum. At home or away, this technique can be done wherever we are, to keep our system healthy, eliminating toxins and performing at its best. Incorporate a little Motherlover or Calm it, Baby oil to boost skin cell regeneration and get ready to glow, mama!
Images via: pinterest.com