Since you're pregnant, your legs weigh a ton, your ankles swollen? Take your trouble: after your delivery, everything will be in order. But in the meantime, lymphatic drainage can relieve you.
How does the lymphatic system work?
- Lymph is the fluid that irrigates all the connective tissue between the muscles and the skin. It is located between arteries, veins and these tissues. It is distinguished from blood by a higher water content and a lower protein content.
- It does not contain blood cells except lymphocytes (cells that serve to defend the body against infections). The lymph contains fibrinogen (fibers used for coagulation). It drains fat, among others.
- The lymphatic system consists of lymph drained by three types of vessels. The capillaries, the smaller ones, are in contact with the tissues. They throw themselves into the lymphatic vessels which are used for drainage and which throw themselves into the transport vessels leading into the venous system. All organs are drained by the lymph via ganglionic chains.
What is the difference between the blood system and the lymphatic system?
- The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system of the blood. In the blood circulatory system, the heart, arteries and veins function as a kind of closed circuit. The heart acts as a pump. It sends to the tissues, to feed them, clean blood, loaded with oxygen, nutrients and mineral salts through the arteries and recovers in return, through the venous and lymphatic channels, blood loaded with waste (carbon dioxide and tissue products).
What is lymphatic drainage?
- Lymphatic drainage is a technique of manual stimulation of the entire lymphatic system that increases the uptake of proteins and their transport. In case of edema, stimulation promotes circulation of the lymph.
- This stimulation is done by very gentle pressures that start from the feet and progressively rise to the level of the legs, pelvis and belly to the diaphragm where is the last ganglion of the lymphatic chain before reaching the heart. Stimulation also focuses on the lymph nodes below the clavicle and around the abdomen. In pregnant women, lymph nodes are stimulated, which remain accessible as pregnancy progresses.
- The edema is always formed downstream. If you have swollen legs, you start the stimulation at the belly, then we go down along the thighs, calves, and we will empty the lymph up.
- The number of sessions recommended varies, depending on the importance of the edema. Lymphatic drainage will deflate your legs and bring you relaxation and comfort.
Why is this technique especially recommended during pregnancy?
- It happens that the lymphatic circulation undergoes a mechanical blockage. This is the case, in particular, during pregnancy which causes overweight or excess water due to hormonal disturbances (excess estrogen).
- Normally, about 5 liters of blood circulate in the arteries and veins. During pregnancy, this volume increases. After a while, the veins dilate because they are "overflowed". It is the lymphatic system that will have to take over and manage this excess water. When it is overloaded, it is edema (water retention in the tissues).
- In pregnant women, this edema usually develops in the legs because the weight of the fetus causes a mechanical blockage of the entire general circulatory system at the perineum (set of muscles lining the bottom of the pelvis).
What are the contraindications to this technique?
- Lymphatic drainage is strongly discouraged in pregnant women in case of infection. In this case, the lymph nodes swell and it is better not to stimulate them. Avoid it also in case of great fatigue. Your organs are already sufficiently stressed by your pregnancy, so it is useless to add.