Pregnancy Cankles – HELP!
Pregnancy is full of new and exciting experiences like feeling your little bundle moving around inside you for the first time. It can also come along with some unexpected changes to your body such as swelling, especially to the ankles and feet.
Swelling can be experienced at any stage of pregnancy and is more likely during the 3rd trimester, around the 27 week mark.
During pregnancy, the body produces more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy and helps prepare the pelvic joints and tissues to open for delivery.
Normal swelling is typically experienced in the hands, legs, ankles, and feet and can become uncomfortable.
You may not be able to stop parts of your body from swelling. But the good news is, you may be able to limit how severe it is, here are 2 things that Lymphatic Therapists know work a treat!
1. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
This hands on therapy can be very supportive if you are suffering with tired feet, swollen ankles or aching and heavy legs. It may not be possible able to stop parts of your body from swelling however you may be able to limit the severity of fluid accumulating and discomfort experienced.
It is important to note that sudden swelling of the feet, ankles, hands and face indicate a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia. Symptoms of pre-eclampsia include high blood pressure and protein in the urine which should be picked up by your G.P. during your check ups.
How Does Manual Lymphatic Drainage Help?
MLD is a very gentle specialised massage which works specifically with the lymphatic system in the direction of lymph flow.
MLD promotes optimal functioning of the lymphatic system facilitating the removal of wastes, excess water, toxins and bacteria from the connective tissue – sometimes referred to as the body’s waste disposal system, resulting in reduced fluid retention, swelling, lighter legs and improves the appearance of stretch marks.
It is recommended to book an appointment as early as the first trimester, particularly if you already have swollen ankles, your legs ache and feel heavy or have any circulatory issues or varicose veins.
2. Dry Body Brushing
Dry brushing is a health practice, which involves brushing over the skin dry, followed by a shower or bath. It stimulates the lymphatic system and also facilitates the removal of wastes and excess fluid.
This is a safe practice to incorporate into your health and self care routine during pregnancy.
Tips for body brushing:
1. Stroke brush in one upward movement
2. Brushing upward and towards the major lymph nodes in the body, such as the groin, armpits and base of neck.
3. Work from left to right, which is the natural direction when massaging the body.
Precautions: Never skin brush over inflamed skin e.g. open wounds, inflamed sores, varicose veins, sun burnt skin. Avoid dry brushing the face with firm bristles.
Use a Brush made from Plant bristle eg. coconut husks or from the agave plant provides the best exfoliation and stimulation for your skin. They are the highest quality, long lasting and don’t scratch the skin.
Other tips to manage swelling during pregnancy:
- Avoid standing for long periods, and do engage in exercise: Walk, swim, cycle
- Stay cool on warmer days
- Actively cool down the legs – pour lukewarm or cold water over the legs, from the feet upwards
- Use cold compresses on swollen areas
- Rest with your feet elevated
- Wear medical compression stockings
- Wear comfortable shoes, avoiding high heels if possible
- Avoid clothes that are tight around your wrists or ankles
If you have any concerns or questions about swelling and/ or Lymphatic Drainage feel free to contact Amanda.
About the Author Amanda Da- Silva is a Licensed Remedial Massage therapist, Certified Lymphoedema, and Manual Lymphatic Practitioner.
Amanda is available at two locations: Thirroul and Port Kembla
Harmony Therapeutics, Thirroul- For bookings please call 02 4268 1928 or book online at
Alchemy Health, Port Kembla – For bookings please call 024244 8244 or book online at www.anandatherapeuticmassage.com