Ask the Doc: Can I still receive spa treatments when pregnant?

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Answered by Errol Norwitz, M.D., Ph.D.  Dr. Norwitz is internationally recognized for his work in high-risk obstetrics.  He is the Chair of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Tufts Medical Center, and a Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. He is board certified in Obstetrics & Gynecology and Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Some women enjoy receiving regular spa treatments, and in most cases, it is okay to continue such services during pregnancy.  It is perfectly fine to continue with facials, manicures, pedicures, and body scrubs.  Spa treatments involving high temperatures, however, should be avoided.  These treatments may include saunas, steam rooms, heat wraps, whirlpools, or tanning beds.  Early studies in Europe have shown that the heat that is generated from sleeping blankets or Jacuzzis might increase the chance of miscarriage and neural tube defects.  However, more recent studies have not shown any such association.   

It is important to check with your health-care provider whether you can have a massage during your pregnancy.  If he or she says it is okay, it is important that you choose a well-trained therapist.  You will probably be advised to avoid deep-tissue massages, particularly on your legs, because pregnant women are more prone to varicose veins and massaging that area could result in a blood clot becoming dislodged.

Positioning is important during a massage.  Early in pregnancy, you might not be comfortable lying on your chest because your breasts will be tender.  Later in pregnancy, lying on your back for long periods of time may be uncomfortable and might make you more prone to dizzy spells when you eventually stand up. 

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