This is a term that seems to cause more confusion than any other in the spa world. In some countries you can be guaranteed the strongest, most crippling massage you’ll ever experience, in others you’ll be wondering when the masseuse will start working. Most agree that Swedish massage is for relaxing: the full-body variety uses a combination of effleurage (oil application in gentle strokes), petrissage (kneading the muscles) and some long stretching strokes for good measure. Swedish massage is best avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy while your body comes to terms with its new condition.
Must try: Maternity massage, 90mins, Dhs640, Al Asalla Spa, Dubai Ladies Club (04 366 6818)
Remedial massage might be offered at your osteopathic or chiropractic clinic as an option alongside specialist consultations. Expect a stronger muscle workout, concentrating on areas of stiffness and imbalance. Remedial massage can be particularly useful if you’ve been experiencing pregnancy-related back pain and muscular stiffness in response to your changing weight distribution. Not for the fainthearted, and only with the go-ahead from your doctor.
Lymphatic drainage is the detox queen’s best friend, using gentle pumping movements to help along your natural internal cleansing system and banish puffy ankles and swollen calves. With hormones raging through your body beautiful, the lymphatic system can easily become overloaded – hence the swollen pudgy look that might follow last night’s cheesecake binge. Drainage massage is gentle, meaning you can be left wondering if anything has actually happened, but it is very
effective. As long as you are following a basic pregnancy regimen (less caffeine, more vegetables), lymphatic drainage is safe at all stages of pregnancy.
Must try: Lymphatic drainage massage, 55mins, Dhs380, The Spa at The Palace Hotel (04 428 7888)
The stretch mark safeguard, myofascia is the ‘wrapping layer’ under the skin. It keeps our skin sticking nicely to our ever-growing contours, and is most noticeably unattractive when it loses its grip and contributes to cellulite. Keeping the elastic myofascia around the belly healthy will ensure that your blooming bump won’t stretch the wrapping too rapidly. Therapists use rolling and stretching techniques, which can hurt a little the first few times. For best results, try to book a treatment every week or two during your second trimester.
Must try: Mother-to-be massage, followed by the luscious Buddha belly mask with avocado, honey and molasses, 90mins, Dhs555, Sensasia Spa (04 349 8850)
When your relationship has taken an unexpected turn (guys can freak out about having a baby too) and work is proving a challenge for your hormone-fuelled mind, a little bliss is in order. Body wraps are generally safe during pregnancy, as they are light on the potentially toxic oils and chemicals, concentrating more on the clays and nourishing base oils. We reckon being cocooned in a nice warm sanctuary and having your scalp massaged could potentially rate higher in the enjoyment stakes than what got you into your current state to begin with. It’s the perfect escape any time during your pregnancy.
Must try: Toning lemongrass body wrap, 60mins, Dhs490, The Spa at The Palace Hotel (04 428 7888)
One of the favourite treats of the East is the hammam, and, provided you’re not fainting regularly, there’s no reason a pregnant lady should not partake. Most of the women working in Dubai’s hammams hail from Morocco where mums-to-be head to the hammam regularly to be fussed over. The soaking, soaping, scrubbing, wrapping and rubbing that the hammam is famous for will leave you lounging about like an Arabian princess for an afternoon. This is what people must mean when they tell you to enjoy your pregnancy – but do remember to leave the steam room if you begin to feel light-headed. Cool off and head back in when you’re feeling better.
Must try: Oriental hammam, from Dhs330, at Royal Mirage Dubai (04 399 999); traditional hammam, Dhs625, Dubai Ladies Club (04 366 6818)
Avoid reflexology or any type of foot massage until later in your pregnancy. There are lots of ‘points’ that can induce labour, and cause uterine disturbance. This is a big no-no if you have any other risk factors already. On the other hand, if you’re ticking over your 41st week, get thee to a reflexologist!
Avoid aromatherapy and aromatherapy oils. These have a lot of normally harmless toxic ingredients that can pass through to your baby, causing toxic overload and even liver damage. If you’ve been exposed to oils once or twice you needn’t worry, but unfortunately, it’s best to avoid a daily dose of wonderful lavender oil.
Always check first that your treatment is safe during pregnancy and inform your therapist that you’re expecting.