by Erin Behan - 269 Reviews - 12 List
It's a tough job, but I agreed to do it: Test out four highly regarded pregnancy massages in the name of research and relaxation. What did I learn? The best massage places aren't always the prettiest, but just about any massage is good when you're pregnant. (Do I hear a good gift idea, dads-to-be?)
Updated: December 03, 2007
This was the best of both worlds: The personal attention expected from a small practice, but with surprising spa-like ambience. The therapist attacked the stabbing back pain I complained about with great vigor as I lay face-down on body cushions, but also focused on spots I didn't even realize were tight (until I could feel those knots giving way). Given its downtown location, I'll be back. Bonus: I'm signing my husband up for a class that teaches massage techniques for the big day.
The massage table has a hole for your pregnant belly--a setup that's frowned upon at some spas--but I found the webbing of their custom-made tables fully supportive. And the massage? My therapist focused on the areas I said were strained (lower back) without ignoring the rest of my body. She also didn't treat me like a delicate flower and gave me the full-force massage I asked for. I hobbled around that night, but the next day my back felt (almost) as good as new.
This is the full-on spa experience, pregnancy style. A tranquil relaxation room mimics some of Manhattan's best and will make spa regulars (or nonregulars, like me) feel at home. The body cushions that allowed me to lie face-down took some adjusting, but I enjoyed the special touches like hot towels. The massage itself, however, while hitting all the right spots, just didn't hit them hard enough, and I left feeling moderately relaxed but not any looser.
This spot had a tough bill: Ease the pain of two trans-Atlantic flights and the resulting jet lag. The therapist's soothing strokes nearly knocked me into la-la land a couple of times, and while I had hoped for slightly deeper kneading, the head massage was so revelatory that I promptly forgot my neck was still slightly cricked. If I lived in the Upper West Side and just wanted to relax (on my belly), this would be the place.