Prenatal Pampering: 5 Pregnancy-Safe Spa Treatments

Written by Jenny Silverstone

When you see a pregnant woman walk through the doors of your spa, there is no doubt she is likely in need of some serious pampering. She is probably feeling those pregnancy aches and pains and may not have many more weeks before she is focused entirely on her new baby and will not have the time to treat herself.

While she may not understand which treatments are safe for her at various stages of her pregnancy, she will be in good hands. You can look out for her by letting her know these five safe treatments she can have and when during her pregnancy these treatments are appropriate.


There is nothing quite like a massage when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. But, massage has a host of other benefits, as well, including:

  • improving the function of the circulatory and nervous systems
  • cutting down on joint pain (something that pregnant women can greatly benefit from)
  • potentially decreasing the swelling of feet and calves, which is particularly troublesome to women in their last trimesters of pregnancy
  • decreasing muscle tension and headaches
  • promoting better sleep (tremendously helpful to pregnant women who often have sleepless nights because of aches, pains, worry, and uncomfortable positions)
  • decreasing back pain (another common complaint during pregnancy)

While pregnant women can significantly benefit from massages, they should be performed by a certified prenatal massage therapist and it is safest to avoid them during the first trimester, when the risk for miscarriage is at its highest.

When massaging a pregnant client, also keep in mind critical safety considerations. Pregnant women, especially those after 22 weeks, should not lie on their backs. The safest position for both mother and baby is on the side; more specifically, they should be lying on the left side. Tables with a hole in the middle are not the best option, as it may still strain a pregnant client’s abdominal ligaments. Hot stones should not be used on the abdomen. Avoid raising the client’s core temperature substantially.

Before proceeding with a massage, talk to the client about her pregnancy risk level. If she is high risk, which could be the case with conditions like pre-eclampsia or prior preterm labor, she should consult her doctor to see if massage is safe for her.

By paying attention to procedure and any special considerations, massage is something women can safely enjoy and benefit from during the second and third trimesters of their pregnancy.


Manicures and pedicures are a largely safe procedure, but because of the following risk factors, it is best to wait until the second semester before enjoying these treatments during pregnancy.

One of the main risks with these treatments is the possibility of getting an infection like athlete’s foot or paronychia from improperly sterilized equipment. That is just one reason using proper sterilization techniques is so important. It is never a good idea to cut corners when it comes to sterilization of equipment. Another risk is exposing a developing fetus to chemicals containing volatile compounds like toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which could be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Also, acupressure which could involve pressure points near the ankle should be left alone during pregnancy. Some pressure points can cause uterus contractions. So, it is best to stay away from known pressure points to err on the side of caution.

If you are going to proceed with a manicure or pedicure for a pregnant woman, you should practice these safety tips:

  • thoroughly sterilize equipment, using an autoclave if possible
  • work in a well-ventilated area to reduce the inhalation risk for the client; working in a well-ventilated area also protects you from inhalation exposure, so it is good to do this for your health, as well
  • opt for non-toxic nail polish and acetone-free removers and, whenever possible, steer the client towards these products during her pregnancy
  • stay away from massaging pressure points during manicures and pedicures
  • skip acrylics, to be as safe as possible


Facials are a popular treatment and there is a lot of variety in the type a client can get, including: oxygen facial, which can increase new cell growth, improve circulation, and plump out fine lines and wrinkles; deep cleansing facials, which include extraction, exfoliation, a mask, and moisturizing; and hydrating facials, which use moisture-rich treatments and products to hydrate the skin.

Facials are a safe procedure for pregnant women but use care when selecting products.

Some precautions should be used when doing facials on pregnant clients. Stick with non-toxic products and skip microdermabrasion. Also, keep in mind that high doses of beta hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid, which may be present in some facial peels, should be avoided. Finally, stay away from steam and vitamin A facials.


Aromatherapy, primarily when used in conjunction with massage, can be immensely relaxing. It can also help cut back on aches and pains, as well as ease stress.

But, some essential oils must be avoided during pregnancy, including mugwort, rosemary, basil, thyme, and peppermint. While there is no certainty that using any of these oils will result in harm to the client or her baby, it is just not worth taking that risk, especially when there are other oils that have a better track record for safety when used during pregnancy.

Other oils known to be safer choices for pregnant women include lavender, rose, and jasmine. Always blend the essential oil with a carrier oil to dilute it and never use essential oils directly on a pregnant woman’s skin.


Body scrubs are a safe treatment at any stage of pregnancy. They have several benefits, including improving circulation and removing dead skin to give skin a healthier appearance. Also, exfoliation can help cut down on the appearance of stretch marks. And, on top of all of that, they just feel good.

Remember to stay away from the use of essential oils with the scrubs because they are applied directly to the skin in this method. Stick with gentler scrubs that are less abrasive because, during pregnancy, skin is usually more sensitive. You do not want to cause discomfort by using a harsher scrub. Also, ensure no heat components are used with the scrub.


       In addition to knowing pregnancy-safe treatment options, it is also important to know which treatments are contraindicated for pregnant clients.

Hair Removal

During pregnancy, hair grows quickly. That is a great thing when it results in thick, healthy-looking, shiny locks on a client’s head, but it is often not as welcome when that increased hair growth is on the legs or other body parts.

While it may be a bit disappointing, overall, it is best to stick with shaving during pregnancy. That is not always ideal in later pregnancy, as a woman gains weight and begins to lose her balance, but it is still the best solution from a safety standpoint.

Women who routinely waxed before pregnancy may want to continue doing so, but it is best to skip it during pregnancy. There is a higher risk for skin sensitivity and allergic reactions during pregnancy. This is especially true for women who are new to waxing.

It is also best to stay away from laser hair removal for pregnant clients because the effects of the lasers on the fetus have not been adequately researched. It is not worth causing a permanent issue with a baby for a temporary hair removal solution.

Saunas and Hot Tubs

While the thought of using a sauna or hot tub may sound heavenly to a pregnant woman because of the sore and achy muscle pain she is likely experiencing, they must be avoided for the duration of pregnancy.

Raising the core body temperature higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit increases the risk of neural tube defects and possibly a miscarriage.

Many doctors say both saunas and hot tubs should be avoided for pregnant women, while some say no longer than 10 minutes in the hot tub should be okay. But, with the potential for irreversible consequences to the baby, it is best to avoid them altogether for the whole nine months of pregnancy.

Play it safe. Pregnancy is a time of great change for women and we want to do what we can to ease the stress on their bodies and their minds, but professionals must always do so with their safety and the safety of the baby in mind. There are several spa treatments they can safely partake in during pregnancy and, hopefully, those treatments will bring them the relaxation and pampering they are looking for. Do your best to minimize any risks by steering them toward the appropriate treatments during pregnancy. And, you can always remind them they can come in for the other treatments after they have safely had their baby and need pampering more than ever. It will be a great break for them when they are facing a lack of sleep and their duties as a mom.

Jenny Silverstone is a mother of two, massage-junkie, and editor for the popular parenting blog Mom Loves Best. Together with her team of parenting experts, Silverstone strives to craft educational content to help other women survive the aches, difficulties, and anxiety that come along with becoming a first-time mother.

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