Visiting a Spa When Pregnant

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Whether you're planning a one day babymoon or a pre-baby vacation, a visit to a spa may well be on your agenda.

But is it safe to take advantage of all the facilities and treatments on offer whilst pregnant?

On this page we'll take a look at what you can - and can't - enjoy!

NOTE: This information is given for guidance purposes only and does not construe medical advice. Please consult your physician prior to having any spa treatment.

Visiting a spa when pregnant


A massage during pregnancy is BLISS - in fact, you will probably long for a massage whilst pregnant more often than at any other time of your life!

Most spas will offer massage after 12 weeks of pregnancy and before 32 weeks, giving you plenty of opportunity to enjoy a relaxing treatment which should be carried out by a therapist specially trained in maternity massage.

An experienced therapist will help get you comfortable.

Lying on your back is not recommended after around 5 months, because the weight of your baby can put pressure on your vena cava (main vein).

This disrupts the blood flow to your baby and lowers your blood pressure, leaving you feeling dizzy.

Some spas offer a special table, with a hole cut out for your bump, although these can sometimes cause a little discomfort in your lower back.

Other options include lying on your side, or using a bean-bag. Spas that specialize in pre-natal massage may even offer a specially adapted chair.

You can also enjoy an aromatherapy massage from a therapist trained in prenatal treatments.

This is important, because some aromatherapy oils are not suitable for use during pregnancy.

You may want to request that any lotions used during your treatments are scent-free (strong scents may make you feel sick!) and very gentle, as your skin will probably be much more sensitive than usual.

Reflexology - the application of pressure to the feet, hands and ears - is another form of massage which is safe during pregnancy.

But once again, it's important to ensure your therapist is experienced in dealing with pregnant women, as certain pregnancy complications can make reflexology unsuitable.

Heat Treatments

A lovely, warm bath can really help soothe those aches and pains - but heat treatments offered at spas are generally unsuitable during pregnancy. These include:

  • Sauna

  • Steam room

  • Spa bath

  • Hot tub/Jacuzzi®

  • Whirlpool

  • Laconicum*

  • Tepidarium*

  • Tanning beds

  • Heated mud wrap

*The temperature of a laconicum or tepidarium may sometimes be low enough for use during pregnancy.

However, we have included them on this list because temperatures can vary widely from one spa to another.

Indeed, we have come across spas where the temperature of the laconicum has exceeded that of the sauna.

If you do intend to use these facilities, please check the temperature with staff beforehand, and let them know you are pregnant.

The problem with heat treatments is that they raise your core temperature, but prevent you from sweating to cool off, in the way you normally would.

An elevated core temperature could potentially affect your baby's development in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The risks for you involve dehydration and fainting, due to the disruption to your blood flow.

Why is a warm bath OK, when a hot tub is not?

Because you tend to be less 'submerged' in a bath than in a hot tub, with a greater surface area of skin exposed to the air.

In addition, a bath at home will cool down naturally, whereas the temperature in a hot tub, sauna etc is maintained.

And although the risk is small, hot tubs do present the additional hazard of bacterial contamination if not properly cleaned and maintained.

Other Spa Treatments During Pregnancy

A manicure or pedicure is perfectly safe (a predicure being particularly desirable once your feet become out of reach!).

A facial treatment can be very relaxing, but - as mentioned earlier - your skin may be much more sensitive than usual, so request gentle products and avoid harsh processes such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion.

You may also prefer to ask for products that are retinoid free - some sources suggest that too much retinoid can be harmful to your unborn baby.

Whilst some treatments are best avoided, a visit to the spa can still be very relaxing during pregnancy, providing you with the extra pampering you deserve!

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