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Can you get spa treatments if you're pregnant?

A massage by a certified prenatal massage therapist can really do the trick for a tired pregnant woman.
A massage by a certified prenatal massage therapist can really do the trick for a tired pregnant woman.
Steve Mason/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Pregnant women's bodies go through lots of daily stresses, so a big day at the spa might seem like the perfect way to relieve them. But it's important to know that while some spa treatments -- especially ones honed by medical and spa professionals -- are alright for pregnant women to luxuriate in, others are strictly off limits.

To kick things off, let's cover some of the treatments that are perfectly safe for expecting mothers -- but with two important caveats. The first, that a mother-to-be should only visit spa professionals who are specifically trained to perform prenatal treatments. The second, that she must be having a normal pregnancy. If there are concerns that the pregnancy is not proceeding exactly as planned, she should consult her doctor before scheduling a spa visit.

Once such conditions are met, it's perfectly safe to enjoy some spa specials. For example, massage is generally green-lighted, although some experts disagree about whether it's wise to receive massages in the first trimester. Again, a certified prenatal massage therapist is a must, and tables with holes in the middle for the belly are dubious and likely best avoided for safety reasons since they don't adequately support the weight of the baby. Instead, a masseuse can perform a massage while the mommy-in-the-making is lying on her side propped up with pillows, or deliver a neck and back massage while she's seated upright. Pregnant women can also enjoy leg and foot massages for aching lower extremities.

Facials are acceptable, provided they contain only all-natural products. Even then, it's possible sensitive pregnancy skin won't be pleased, so be sure to test applications on a small, inconspicuous patch of skin before beginning. No chemical peels allowed. Acupuncture is also safe, so long as the acupuncturist is properly trained. The ancient spa technique can help with migraines, back pain and morning sickness, but it's also sometimes used to help induce labor. In a similar manner, reflexology can speed up labor, but it's also helpful for relieving pregnancy symptoms like heartburn. In the hands of a capable professional, it can be a nice, relaxing treatment. Finally, baths -- warm baths, never hot -- are perfect for a soothing soak.

That being said, lots of activities on a typical spa services list are strictly off limits. On the next page, we'll cover those.