Monday, June 7, 2010

The Skinny on Prenatal Massage: Part 1

After coming across multiple inquires about prenatal massage by women in the area on some of the larger baby sites (Baby Center & Lilaguide), I decided someone (me) needed to research prenatal massage and, eh hem, try out a couple of spas in the area.  Although I would have loved to have tried every spa in the area, my time and resources were pretty limited; so I decided to try out four spas:  1 upscale spa in DC that focuses primarily on prenatal massage (Spa on the Hill), 1 upscale spa in VA (Sugar House Day Spa), 1 no frills/holistic spa (Body, Mind & Sole), and 1 chain spa (Massage Envy).  

Before I review the spas I visited here’s some background on prenatal massage.

Benefits of prenatal massage
According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals’ consumer education service, there are numerous benefits to massage during pregnancy.  Not only does it feel amazing on an expanding and aching body, but it can relieve muscular tension, reduce stress on weight bearing joints, stimulate blood flow, increase flexibility, alleviate leg cramps and, well, generally help you feel AND sleep better.

Why won’t some spas do prenatal massage during the first trimester?
Well according to some of the therapists I spoke with, the body views the fetus as a foreign object during the first trimester and since massage is aimed at eliminating and releasing toxins from the body, some spas feel that it’s best to avoid massage while the body and fetus are in that sensitive state.

How is my body situated during a prenatal massage?
Depending on the spa you will either lay on your side or on your tummy with the help of a tummy cut out.  I have to say, I am partial to the tummy cut out, I loved being able to lay on my tummy!!  If you are partial to one way or the other, make sure you ask them before you book your massage.

Does my massage therapist have to be certified in prenatal massage?
Um, yeah.  It’s very important that the person giving the massage is not just a licensed massage therapist, but that he or she is certified in prenatal massage.  There are pressure points and areas of the body prenatal therapist are trained to avoid due to how it may impact the baby.  They alter their technique and pressure to ensure the safety of mom and baby.

Is it safe for all pregnant women to get a prenatal massage?
Answers vary on this one but I am going to err on the side of caution and say no.  Most ob/gyns won’t clear high risk pregnancies for massage—just too risky.  So talk to your ob/gyn before booking your massage.

There seem to be a lot of places in the area that offer prenatal massage, how do I choose a spa?
Well, first, what’s your budget?  If cost is your main concern, your options will be narrowed down pretty quickly.  Also, think about the type of spa and atmosphere you’re looking for.  Do you want a place that specializes in prenatal massage or a place that offers prenatal massage among other offerings? Do you require a unique boutique spa experience, a big name spa, or could you care less what the place is like inside as long as the massage is good? 

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