What to Expect During Your Pregnancy Massage or Prenatal Spa Visit

Prenatal Spa Services: What to Ask Before Getting a Prenatal Massage or Other Spa Services

As the benefits of prenatal massage and other spa services become more widely noted, services for pregnant moms are growing in popularity. With so many spas now offering prenatal spa services, it's important to ask questions before booking an appointment. To help pregnant moms interested in booking a prenatal massage, Belly Friendly outlines important questions that should be asked and what to expect and avoid during pregnancy.

What to ask the spa before booking a prenatal spa service:
Does the massage therapist have a specialty certification in prenatal?
Massage therapists and estheticians (facialist) working with pregnant clients should have special training in the physiological adaptations of pregnancy and how this affects their treatment plan. Most therapists get some prenatal training during their initial training program but it’s important to receive additional training, especially for massage. There are many programs that offer specific certifications in prenatal, but we recommend additional prenatal spa education in the last five years.

How often does the spa therapist perform prenatal massage?
Even with prenatal massage training, some spas/therapists may only get a handful or less of prenatal clients. If a massage therapist hasn’t received additional education in more than three years, and/or hasn’t practiced prenatal massage regularly, they may need new certification. Be sure to ask when they were certified and how often the therapist works with pregnant clients.

Should my prenatal esthetician be specialty certified?
Currently, there are no specialty prenatal programs for estheticians that we know of (aside from Belly Friendly education). However, be sure to ask about the therapist’s experience with prenatal clients as pregnancy impacts positioning, pregnancy facial treatments (such as waxing) and products.

What type of massage bed or positioning is used?
A prenatal massage is best in a side-lying or semi-reclining position. Past the first trimester, lying on the pregnant belly (prone) isn’t recommended. Some pregnant women may lie on their belly at home within their own comfort level but, when there is pressure applied to the back while in this position during a prenatal massage, there is increased strain on pelvic joints and the ligaments supporting the uterus. If you are working with an experienced, trained therapist your side-lying or semi-reclining prental experience should be comparable to – or even better than – a prone position. Many clients continue to receive side-lying massages well after the birth of their baby!

During the prenatal spa visit:
Talk to your prenatal spa therapist about your specific needs or issues. The spa should take a thorough history for each prenatal client. Information gathered should include how pregnant you are, any allergies, sensitivities, physical discomforts or complications. Beyond this, the spa therapist or esthetician should ask questions that address your pregnancy such as your specific issues, needs and expectations.

Don't be afraid to ask questions or speak up!
When visiting a spa for a prenatal service, some clients are uncomfortable voicing their needs, especially during massage. It's important to keep in mind that the visit is all about you! Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are not comfortable. Everyone woman's experience is different. If you are experiencing a normal pregnancy, the best guideline is to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t do it, if it does feel comfortable, enjoy!

Services to avoid during pregnancy:
Facial Peels and Microdermabrasion
Prenatal facials feel great and can only enhance the glow of pregnancy. However, many expecting moms are affected by skin sensitivity and hyper-pigmentation during pregnancy so facial peels and microdermabrasion are not recommended. Prenatal facials designed to treat these conditions should be part of the spa menu and products used should support these changes.

Wraps constrict movement and a client may get too warm. If a pregnant mom gets too warm, blood vessels dilate to bring more blood to the skin surface for cooling. This could expecting moms lightheaded and uncomfortable.

Essential oils
It is suggested that pregnant women use essential oils derived from flowers rather than herbs during pregnancy, and that "calming" oils such as lavender are preferable to "stimulating" oils such as camphor during pregnancy.

Spas to Avoid:
Spas that require a doctor's note (unless you've experienced complications)
If a spa requires a doctor's note before a prenatal massage it may show lack of experience or confidence in offerings. As far as prenatal massage goes, very few are contraindicated as long as you're working with a trained, experienced spa therapist. Unfortunately we are still victims of the myth that pregnancy is a "delicate condition" and the resulting fear surrounding this myth.

Spas that won't see you in the first trimester
If a spa isn't comfortable seeing you in the first trimester, they may not have the proper training and experience with prenatal clients.

**Women that are experiencing high-risk pregnancies should consult with their obstetrician before considering spa services.**