Pregnant Pause at APSARA Spa
What: Prenatal Pampering Program
Why: Because it’s not just babies who need pampering
How Much: RMB 480 for a prenatal massage (75 min) or RMB 3,980 for the Prenatal Pampering Package including five sessions of Prenatal Massage, two Soothing Hydration Facials, and a Pretty Mommy Delux Mani & Pedi Combo.
Where: APSARA Jing’an, 457 Shanxi Lu, near Beijing Lu. Tel: 6258 5580 or APSARA Century Park, 290 Jinyan Lu, near Dongxiu Lu. Tel: 5059 0301
Prenatal massage, which has long been a favoured practice of midwives and doulas, has exploded in popularity and is now widely available to expectant mothers in Europe and North America. But until recently, there were few options for Shanghai mamas who wanted to reap the benefits of prenatal massage and enjoy a little pre-baby pampering. Enter APSARA, the go-to day spa in Shanghai for Cambodian wellness, which recently launched a maternity spa package providing prenatal massage, facials, and mani-pedis, with the aim of providing some extra TLC for mums-to-be.
So, why indulge in prenatal massage you may ask? I mean, besides the obvious fact that it feels really, really good, it is also now recognised by many in the medical community that, in addition to providing relief from the aches and pains of pregnancy, prenatal massage eases swelling, improves sleep, and reduces stress hormones found in the body – a welcome side effect for pregnant women braving Shanghai’s streets.
"The massage had a gentle tone, with longer, softer strokes and an emphasis on relaxation and restoration, rather than therapeutic work."
With all this good science to back us up, and being four months pregnant, we thought this the perfect opportunity to sample APSARA’s prenatal massage. We were greeted in the reception area with a cup of warm tea, and welcomed by a staff member who asked a number of detailed questions about our pregnancy, including questions about any particular trouble spots we wanted to focus on during the treatment.This kind of personalised attention was a first for us in Shanghai, despite being experienced spa-goers.
APSARA’s prenatal massage is not dissimilar to the Royal APSARA Massage, in that it combines Cambodian and Swedish techniques and promotes deep relaxation. Rather than lying flat on your stomach, however, you will be positioned on your side, propped up by pillows and bolsters allowing greater comfort for the growing belly. The therapist used extra virgin grapeseed oil, which is gentle and safe for use during pregnancy, and has been known to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, that bête-noire of expecting divas everywhere.
After both sides of our back had been worked on, we turned over onto our back (again propped up to prevent pressure on the vena cava) as the therapist worked on tight leg muscles, carefully avoiding our feet so as not to activate pressure points that are known to trigger labour. The massage had a gentle tone, with longer, softer strokes and an emphasis on relaxation and restoration, rather than therapeutic work.
While the intensity of the massage was less strong than we typically prefer, for an expectant mother, this is probably a good thing. The 75 minute long treatment left us with a sense of calm, well-being and we can happily report the best night’s sleep we’ve had in weeks after the treatment. And really, for a mum-to-be, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Shanghai spa stalwart Dragonfly is celebrating its seventh birthday and wants to give you the presents. Pay RMB 1,777 for seven moisturising facials (normal price RMB 500 each), or pay RMB 177 for seven paraffin hand treatments (normally RMB 90 each). Both deals are valid from 7 to 27 February, cash or credit purchase only. Dragonfly reserves the right to the interpretation of this offer.
This holiday season Anantara Spa is offering ultimate luxury. Their 'Winter as you Wish' package includes one Pevonia caviar facial (90 mins), one avacado body scrub (60 mins) and one hot stone massage (90 mins). Normally priced at RMB 3,956, now only RMB 2,888 (+15%). Available until 28 February.
Tel: 2216 6899