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Health & Pregnancy

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Pregnant and Pampered: Moms-to-Be Splurge on Spa Treatment

Facials, belly massages, and yoga are among the indulgences of modern-day expectant moms.

The Need for Maternity Spas continued...

"The trend in delayed childbirth is universal -- observed nationwide and among all groups in the population," concluded the 2002 report.

Because older women tend to have careers, which means more disposable income, they're more apt to go to a maternity spa.

In suburban Cincinnati, women can enjoy the recently opened Becoming Mom, a maternity spa devoted to pampering soon-to-be and new mothers. In New York City, expectant mothers head to Edamame Spa for a full range of maternity treatments. The company has now expanded into several locations, including neighboring New Jersey and Massachusetts, as well as Charlotte, N.C.

Denney believes there are only a handful of maternity spas, but traditional spas around the country are offering pre-partum treatments such as belly massages. She operates Barefoot and Pregnant out of Sausalito, Calif., and Carefree, Ariz., and says she is licensing the trade name to other spas. She's in talks with several hotels and is also launching an online social network.

"We wanted to create a community where women could help other women," she explains. "As we did, we found that there was a need for all sorts of other full spa services dedicated to the expectant mom -- not just prenatal massage, but acupuncture, facials, massages geared to each week of your pregnancy, which has different symptoms throughout, and treatments for everything from migraines to carpal tunnel syndrome."

Maternity Spa Safety

Donald Lindblad, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist in Santa Barbara, Calif., sees no problem with spa treatments, including pregnancy massages, as long as they are not "excessively rigorous." In some cases, he says, the experience could be beneficial.

"Many pregnant women feel they don't look very good," he explains. "They feel fat or they have pigmentation, so there may be psychological benefits -- an uplifting effect -- with these treatments."

Pregnancy massages, in particular, could help on a more physical level, he adds, by easing the backaches that so many pregnant women experience. And concerns about the absorption of creams and lotions are unfounded, he says.

"Very few medications have been proven to cause deformities in humans, but as a general rule we try and avoid them," he says. "There are no studies about the effects of oils and creams, however, but it's probably safe to use them."

Lindblad suggests avoiding chemicals and medications during the first trimester, if possible, when the critical development is occurring. This would include exposure to fumes such as nail polish -- although little absorption is likely to occur, he says, especially if adequate ventilation is used.

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