A friend once gave me advice that’s stuck in my head for the last seven plus months. She said, ‘A relaxed, happy mama makes for a happy pregnancy and hopefully a happy baby.”
So when my partner and I found out we were expecting a visit from the stork this March, I took that little nugget of maternal wisdom and found my happy place: on the massage table.
Massage is my go-to stress buster either before or after a crazy week of: work, exercise or travel. When I became pregnant I continued accessing massage services to circumvent the sometimes not-so-sweet physical side effects (hello itchy belly, nausea and Playland wooden roller coaster-esque mood swings).
Besides feeling fantastic, prenatal massage can reduce swelling in ankles and feet, lessen lower back aches and pains, ease calf cramps and increase blood and lymph flow to help toxins exit your lymphatic system. Probably the best part of massage, for me, is the release of endorphins – our body’s natural pain killers and relaxants. My prenatal massage glow can last for a few hours or even up to a couple of days after.
The first prenatal treatment in my third month of pregnancy was so glorious, I vowed to have at least one for every month this little person was growing inside of me. Now I’d like to be a bit evangelical and spread the gospel about the awesome pregnancy massage spots right here in and around Vancouver.
Spa-tacular pregnancy massage
Nestled on the fourth floor of the Hotel Georgia, Sense, A Rosewood Spa, is a creamy marble abode. Sense offers pre-natal massages in 50, 80, and 110 minute treatments and they are priced between $155 and 255. Using a comfortable combination of pillows and bolsters that fit your increasingly chubby parts, you can lay on your belly, side or back. Scented or unscented massage oils are used and varying levels of pressure and massage styles are applied. I was treated to a 50 minute deep relief prenatal massage and walked out of there feeling like I was walking on water.
The Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim has one of the best relaxation rooms in the city. They offer homemade power bars, coffee, tea and fruit in their ladies-only chill room. I visited this spa when I was four months pregnant and was treated to a gentle massage lying on my belly and then my back. After my treatment I had a five minute sweat in the Willow Stream’s eucalyptus steam room and enjoyed an apple in the naturally lit ladies relaxation lounge. If you’re looking for a spa experience with your partner, I would recommend Willow Stream as they have a co-ed relaxation room (where you can order food in), outdoor jacuzzis and a large balcony overlooking the Vancouver Convention Centre. Maternity treatments come in 60 minute or 90 minute packages and are $155 and $229 respectively.
Vida Spa in the Sheraton Wall Centre is a great place to wile away an afternoon. Focused on Ayurvedic teachings, Vida serves up their exclusive, in-house brand of blended teas. I was about seven and a half months pregnant during my treatment at Vida. Vida’s Mother-To-Be-Massages are all delivered while you lie on your side with pillows placed between your legs and under the neck. Massages are customized to where you’re experiencing discomfort and focus on ridding the body of toxins. In my case, the therapist focused on my neck, shoulders and lymphatic system in my legs. After a cup of tea near the fireplace in the relaxation room, I left feeling like Gumby. The Mother-to-Be-Massage is offered in 60, 90 and 120 minute packages priced between $125 to $235.
I’m down with RMTs, yeah you know me
Crunched for time or don’t have the budget for a spa visit? Then I recommend finding a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) who specializes in pregnancy massage. Many extended health plans cover RMT treatments. It’s worth every penny of your deductible, trust me.
My midwife suggested the gals at Acumamas on West 2nd near Olympic Village. Located in a ultra-mod, apartment-style clinic, Acumamas currently offers pre-natal massage on Mondays and Thursday afternoons. The massage table is kitted out with adjustable bolsters so your round belly and other round bits have somewhere to settle. The RMT who treated me, Mandy Ryan, uses food grade coconut oil and had healing hands. After the massage, Ryan offered me some tips on different stretches I could do throughout the day at my desk job to work out my kinks and tight spots.
Many local spas also offer RMTs for prenatal massage but the price differential can be more than RMT-focused clinic.
For mamas on a budget there are two wallet friendly options in Vancouver. The West Coast College of Massage Therapy in New Westminster offers discounted treatments with Registered Massage Therapy students on Tuesday evenings at their InReach clinic. The treatments are one hour long and cost $18. Call at least one week ahead to book.
Closer to home, the Vancouver College of Massage Therapy accommodates prenatal massage appointments on Thursday mornings, evenings and sometimes on Wednesdays depending on how booked up they are. Pregnancy massage is $41 for 60 minutes. The Vancouver College of Massage Therapy also recommends booking a few days ahead of time.
Have you had a prenatal massage? Any recommendations on where to go for pregnancy massage? Please share your recommendations in the comments section below.