I have worked out of several high-end spas in the Cleveland, Ohio area and I also know other therapists who work or have worked at other high-end spas in the area, and my opinion that most women who are pregnant should not get massage at spas is more solid than ever. Spas are great for general massage and especially when you are going to the spa with a big group of friends and you want to get your nails done, your hair done, and want several different services along with a massage. However, if you are pregnant, you really should find a competent massage therapist who offers pregnancy massage away from the spa setting. If the person specializes in pregnancy massage, does a lot of it, and is certified that is even better.
Why am I so bold as to put down area spas? Well, I am just being truthful. I love the spa setting and in fact a lot of what I do in my own practice has its roots in spa-ness. But, when we were in school, several of our instructors told us that spas tend to be massage mills. They purposely utilize massage therapists who are just out of school and make then do a ton of massages for very little pay. This is not to say that there are not seasoned therapists working in spas. There are a FEW. It is not the norm. Because seasoned therapists will quickly realize that they are worth much more and quickly move on to greener pastures. Either they will find a business that will pay them more or they will open up their own massage practice. The reason the spas want newbies is because they are so eager to learn and get paid for massage that they will settle for $9 and $13, and $15 per massage or per hour just to have a job. Our area’s largest and most plush spa, pays its therapists $9 an hour and has then doing 10-12 massages in a day which is ridiculous.
Aside from all that is the level of training. I had to interview a lot of therapists in the last couple of years for my own needs for help in my practice and I have learned a lot about area spas. Many of my prospective therapists worked for some of the areas spas and told me they were basically required to do pregnancy massage. One lady complained that she really felt totally awkward because she herself had never had kids and could not relate at all to pregnant clients but she had to perform them with absolutely no training. When I worked at one of the high-end spas I would be told 15 minutes before a client arrived that they were pregnant and I was given one single pillow to make them comfortable. At that time, I was not trained in how to deliver a pregnancy massage other than someone saying to me to work on them in a side-lying position. There was one single pillow kept underneath the massage table in each treatment room for this purpose. I recall thinking that this is not right. So many, many of the therapists I interviewed expressed to me that they were not comfortable at all doing pregnancy massage but they had no choice in that spa setting. I have yet to interview a therapist who is certified in pregnancy massage and was working in a spa at the same time.
My prenatal clients experience all kinds of discomfort and pain and are often uncomfortable on the massage table at first. It is very important that massage offices and spas who cater to pregnant women have all kinds of bolsters, blankets, different types of pillows, towels, etc. in case the client needs more support in order to feel comfortable during the session. Having one pillow just does not get it.
Of course, now I am fully trained in and certified as a prenatal massage specialist because I always had a a strong interest in doing prenatal massage. I have experienced three very different pregnancies and the last one was twins. I know what it feels like to have stress in your life, have to work full-time and still have to carry a baby too. I know what it feels like to have one pregnancy go off without a hitch but then the 2nd one there is pain and discomfort galore. I know what it is like to carry multiple babies and be barely able to walk toward the end of the pregnancy and then swell up like a puffer fish. I can relate and I have a great compassion for my pregnant clients and a strong desire to pamper them and give them effective pain relief. For me, I am not just DOING massage on them. I am helping them and ministering to them the gift of touch that can help my clients to have a more enjoyable pregnancy.
Am I saying to never go to a spa? No. I am saying that if you are pregnant and need massage you should seek out a different setting with a fully trained and competent therapist. Your situation is now specialized and you need a specialized setting that can fully accommodate you and make you feel comfortable and give you a safe and deeply therapeutic massage session specially designed for pregnant clients.