I’ve had another round of new clients who sought me out after an experience at a day spa or similar establishment that offered “maternity massage” but didn’t deliver what the woman was expecting, let alone needing. Some of my clients tell
me they are initially drawn to day spas or massage centers because they assume that these places are more professional and trustworthy than a random independent therapist (who might be working out of her home). Following that logic, these establishments would seem even more a safe choice during pregnancy. This is sometimes a good conclusion, but not necessarily so! Here are some actual experiences of my clients:
This is not at all meant to be a slam against therapists working in day spas and massage centers; there are great therapists who have worked for a long time in these arena, many of whom are properly trained in pregnancy work. In many places, therapists have reduced control over the types of massages they give and to whom — these decisions are being made by non-therapists. We have moved from a time when massage schools taught everybody that pregnant women should never be massaged, to a time when therapists are being asked to deliver pregnancy massage with little or no training. Experts in the field fear that as the massage industry continues to grow (in a climate where “maternity” is big money), therapists’ ability to deliver quality work is continually compromised.
The Rapid Growth of the Massage and Spa Industries
Over the past several years, the spa industry has grown by leaps and bounds as massage and related services are sought by a larger section of the population. Day Spas are proliferating and new types of establishments such as Massage Envy, Just Massage, and, here in San Diego, the Knot Stop, are turning up in more and more neighborhoods. Their mission is to make massage available to more people, and in the case of the latter, usually below market rates. Admirable idea and smart business given the increased demand for massage services. And, often you can get just what you need at these establishments. But. Because you can tell there is a “But” coming. Massage centers such as Massage Envy are, from a therapist’s perspective, often nothing more than “massage mills.” They are not optimal settings for therapists who often report that their quality of work is consistently compromised. Below I detail some stuff to keep in mind as you wade your way through your options:
In my experience, your best luck is going to be with a place that has low therapist turnover — they tend to take care of their employees and have a healthier environment that their therapists can thrive in (don’t you want the therapist who is touching your body to be thriving?). And, when you go in, make a point of really connecting with the therapist and letting her know you appreciate her time; tip
accordingly as they work hard and are usually quite underpaid. And if a friend recommends a day spa or other establishment, get the name of the therapist they saw.
Pregnancy Massage Specialists
So most of these places offer pregnancy massage. Most licensed therapists with some training should be able to deliver safe touch to you during your pregnancy (assuming your pregnancy is healthy, not high risk and without major complications). That does not mean, however, that most therapists know how to accommodate your body on the table to make you super comfortable, nor does it mean they know how to work specifically with pregnancy aches and pains. A therapist with specialized training is going to do more than adapt their regular old massage routine t your body; the massage will be designed for your pregnant body from start to finish. Here are some points to be wary of:
All that said, you can get good massage during pregnancy at lots of day spas and massage establishments. Particularly if you and the baby are healthy, and you are experiencing a low risk pregnancy and no complications. If you are nervous about pregnancy massage, experiencing a lot of pain or complications, or have a higher risk pregnancy, check with your doctor/midwife and seek out a specialist who works with pregnant women regularly.