We get this question all of the time from staffers and friends who want to gift an expecting loved one. Years of covering Chicago spas have taught us that not all massages are created equal—especially when it comes to prenatal rubdowns, when safety and comfort are more crucial than ever. We scouted out six of the city’s best prenatal offerings so you can treat yourself (or your pregnant pal) to an hour of total bliss. Bonus: These massages help relieve anxiety, tension, swelling, aches and pains while promoting blood flow to the growing baby.
Mother-to-be Massage at Spa at the Dana Hotel $110 for 50 minutes 660 N State St (312-202-6000)
This new-ish downtown hotel soups up its massage table with extra long pillows to accommodate a comfy side-lying position. Before switching sides, the therapist literally climbs onto the table and works on the lower back while the mom-to-be relaxes in a wide-stance child’s pose. Our tester adored the release of tension this technique triggered in her hips. Lotion is used in lieu of oil for its hydrating benefits. The service ends with an upper back and shoulder massage while hot towel compresses soothe the face and neck. Totally luxe.
Great Expectations at Bliss $160 for 75 minutes 644 N Lake Shore Dr (877-862-5477)
The swanky downtown spa outfits the massage table with a pillow that has special compression spots where the breasts will fall (awesome as “the ladies” tend to be quite sensitive during pregnancy) and a hole for the belly. The pressure is gentle but überrelaxing, and all services use Mama Mio oils—which are said to minimize stretch marks. Our tester was a little wary about the (very gentle) abdominal massage performed with a belly-specific Mama Mio oil, but found it relaxing and soothing—and judging by the uptick in belly kicks, Junior loved it just as much.
Prenatal Enerssage at Ruby Room $100 for 60 minutes 1743-45 W Division St (773-235-2323)
This Wicker Park spa with an Anthropologie vibe is big on energy healing. To that end, pregnant clients choose an “energy card” before their service, which sets the tone for the hour—aromatically and physically. Ruby Room doesn’t use a hole-equipped table or a belly pillow, all massages are done in a side-lying position, and women are supported with a big squishy pillow under their bellies and another between their legs. The spa also offers postnatal massage “to rebalance the body after childbirth.”
Prenatal Massage at Allyu $90 for 60 minutes 600 W Chicago Ave (312-755-1313)
The eco-minded River North venue uses pillows to prop preggos into a cozy side-lying position. Our tester enjoyed the light pressure and the focus on nurturing and relaxation. To that end, candles are soy and spa products are paraben- and sodium lauryl sulfate–free. The spa also offers belly casting for women who want a mold of their tummy in full bloom.
Pregnancy Massage at Pulling Down The Moon $95 for 60 minutes 900 N Kingsbury St (312-321-0004)
About two-thirds of clients come to this venue for help with fertility—offerings include meditation, acupuncture and yoga—and many of them stay on after they’ve successfully conceived. You’ll begin by filling out a questionnaire while sipping a tea designed to strengthen the reproductive system. Then it’s off to the massage room, where the table is outfitted with a tummy hole and indentations for your breats. Our tester enjoyed the hurts-so-good kind of pressure that required deep breaths to get through, but you can opt for less intense kneading.
Prenatal Massage at Urban Oasis $100 for 60 minutes 12 W Maple St (312-587-3500); 939 W North Ave (312-640-0001)
Unlike all of the other spas on this list, the trained prenatal specialists at Urban Oasis happily offer massage during the first trimester of low-risk pregnancies. All beds come equipped with a belly hole (outfitted with elastic netting). When you flip to face-up position halfway through the service, the therapist carefully inclines your back on a large triangular bolster. Post-massage, clients can spend 20 minutes in a private rain shower stocked with an array of good-smelling bath products.
Keep the good karma going…
Hubbies can learn safe and effective at-home prenatal massage techniques at Soulistic Studio & Spa (805 N Milwaukee Ave, 312-226-7685). The techniques focus on relieving stress and tension that mom may experience during pregnancy, labor and postpartum. $60 per couple, call for upcoming courses.