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I Tried It: Prenatal Massage

Kimberly Cunningham, 35, Point Loma

You Try It!

Prenatal Massage
Equilibrio Massage
3320 Third Avenue, Hillcrest

A Thai masseuse once told me that massage is like yoga for lazy people. And like a religious zealot, I have clung to this idea ever since. Whenever I didn’t feel like downward dogging, I headed to Massage Envy. So I am no stranger to the many benefits massage can bring, including increased circulation and decreased stress.

But all of that changed when I became pregnant. I’ve developed common ailments like leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, lower back pain, and insomnia.

I tried one prenatal massage at a fancy resort, where the answer to my big belly was a foam pillow with cutouts for my stomach and breasts. Well-endowed women, beware! I think those pillows are made for smaller chests. 

I have also found that, aside from the random person who rubs my belly, people are generally afraid to touch pregnant women. Rare is the soul willing to risk a lawsuit or worse by putting any kind of pressure on a woman with child.

Then my boss referred me to Equilibrio Massage in Hillcrest. Owner Nicole Trombley and her staff are experts in the needs of pregnant women. Most are doulas and make house calls for massage. Some will even come to the hospital to provide a rubdown during labor.

“I instantly feel like I might fall asleep.”

Nicole is not a fan of those foam cutout pillows, citing concerns like increased uterine pressure and nasal congestion, common in pregnancy, especially when lying facedown. She has me lie on my side and builds a mountain of pillows around me. I counted seven in total—under my head, side, stomach, knees, calves, feet, and elsewhere. I instantly feel like I might fall asleep.

She also tells me in a calm whisper that she prefers deep pressure, if I’m okay with that. I am. And as I drift in and out of sleep, she proceeds to work out the kinks. At some point, we switch sides. We finish on the back in a semi-reclined position, where she rubs my scalp, neck, and shoulders.

That night, while watching TV, I notice my restless leg syndrome is nonexistent. As are the leg cramps that sometimes wake me up at 1 a.m. I’m also so blissed out that I don’t bite my fiancé’s head off when he wants to watch football while I am in the middle of The Bachelor.

Before bed, I try to recreate Nicole’s mountain of massage pillows. The next morning I have an email from Equilibrio: “Did you like our massage pillows?” It directs me to a free download link. Turns out, Nicole has written a book, titled Sleeping While Pregnant Guide.

I went back to Equilibrio two more times—each as pleasant as the first visit, prompting similar results (75-minute sessions start at $105; discount packages available). If you have the means, it is a lovely gift to give yourself or someone you love who’s expecting. Here’s to a happy pregnancy, with restful nights and TV remote sharing without the threat of divorce!   

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