I have been very interested in exploring the benefits of lymphatic drainage for a while. When we traveled to South America I got a special massage that incorporated specific lymphatic drainage techniques performed around the areas of the body’s lymph nodes. This was fun to try, but just like many other things in wellness, the only way that I’ve noticed real benefits is from incorporating an ongoing practice. Nothing has proved to be as effective for me in preventing swelling, encouraging detoxification and increasing circulation as establishing an at home routine.
These practices have been in my routine for a while, but have become increasingly important during pregnancy for a couple of reasons. Besides the vanity reason of not wanting to look puffy and swollen, it also helps with eliminating toxins and improving circulation- which are definitely things I am looking to maintain for a healthy pregnancy. I’ll walk you through the 4 easy, quick routines I try to do on a daily basis, though realistically it’s a few times a week!
How I Prevent Swelling with my Lymphatic Drainage Routine
This is my number one recommendation for an at home lymphatic drainage practice. I can literally feel a difference after I dry brush. I haven’t been able to do cardio for quite some time and feel many of the same benefits when I finish dry brushing. The stagnant energy and build up in my body seems to be immediately replaced with a refreshed feeling of increased circulation and flow. I am currently using this brush, which I got because it is easy to travel with (not that I’m doing much of that at the moment). A benefit if using a long handle brush, which I have had in the past, is being able to reach your whole back.
When dry brushing, you want to start at the outer limbs and brush your way towards the heart. I start with my feet/legs and brush in upwards, circular motions continuing to my thighs, butt and hips/lower back. I then switch and start at my hands/arms and use the same motions to brush up to my shoulders and upper back/chest. I skip my belly while pregnant, but would include this after the lower back prior. Some people suggest to do this first thing in the morning or before getting in the shower so that you can wash away the dead skin cells. I do it after showering at night. It helps me remember to do it and I like using my brush while I am clean. I think it is best to incorporate wellness routines at a time that you’ll remember to do it and feels best for you.
If you are not already familiar with jade rolling, maybe you recognize this beautiful tool from social media and are wondering what to do with it. Jade rolling is a great way to encourage lymphatic drainage in the face. I use one that I found at a market in Hong Kong, but if I were to purchase another, I would want to try this rose quartz version!
Some people like to keep them in the fridge for a refreshing, cold sensation and maximum de-puffing. I keep mine in my bathroom drawer because out of sight, out of mind for this girl and I want to make sure its easy to grab! I roll as my last step of my evening facial skincare routine. This is when I have the most time versus more rushed mornings, so it is easier to make sure to do. Post cleansing/serum application, I roll my entire face using upwards and outwards gentle motions. I start with my jawline area and roll each section including cheeks, undereyes and forehead multiple times. I do this coupled with or as an alternative to a facial massage using my hands and stroking in similar upwards and outwards motions.
I do a combination of self and professional massage in my routine. Getting regular professional massages monthly during pregnancy has been amazing for lymphatic drainage as well as carving out time to relax and loosen up my tense, hard working muscles! This can obviously be an expensive and unrealistic habit, but I have a suggestion for how to make it more affordable. Find a place that is off the beaten path and NOT at a spa. I go to an amazing and talented massage therapist who has a tiny room in the back of a local yoga studio. Her massages are the best I’ve ever gotten and are also half the price of anywhere else. She allows you to purchase packages making it even less costly. Ask about lymphatic drainage techniques and if the therapist can incorporate those in your massage. This is particularly helpful for the legs because it is hard to perform a self lymphatic drainage massage there, especially while pregnant.
In terms of a self-massage, choose a favorite oil blend or even single oil like coconut, almond or rosehip oil. If you are into Ayurveda, sesame oil is one that is recommended for grounding Vata imbalance. I do my massage after I shower or bathe and after I dry brush. Again, you want to find the ideal time for you based on what is realistic in your routine. I find evening to be a better time for these routines for me timing wise and they also help relax and prepare me for sleep.
Hot Water with Lemon + Hydration
A mug of hot water with lemon is a jack of all trades. This daily routine encourages elimination of toxins in the body and I find it to be helpful with preventing swelling, improving digestion and so much more! I like to sip this before anything else, first thing in the morning. If anything, it also helps to make sure each day begins with hydration, which is key to lymphatic drainage. Being intentional about drinking plenty of water and eating hydrating foods like fruits and vegetables throughout the day is also helpful. I try to always have a big water bottle or giant tumbler of filtered water with me at all times. All of our bodies systems operate at their finest when we are adequately hydrated, so this is an obvious, but crucial must.