Time has been flying by and I’m now 34 weeks pregnant. I don’t remember my first pregnancy being as achy as this one. I have been doing a lot of things to try to help my body cope with all the changes: prenatal yoga, Dancing For Birth™, hula hooping, swimming and visiting the chiropractor. It does help, but I still struggle, particularly when it comes to finding myself not able to enjoy sleep at night since every turn and shift seems like a gigantic effort.
So when a friend told me about Oly Float here in Olympia, I was immediately attracted to the idea and decided to look more into it.
A VISIT TO OLY FLOAT
A floatation or sensory deprivation tank is a big, shallow bathtub-kind-of-space filled with salt water and kept at perfect body temperature. The tank is not air tight, so there is plenty of oxygen. I don’t know how the tanks are set up in different locations, but at Oly Float the door is connected to a little private room where you can leave your clothes and take a shower before and after the floating experience. Since the room is totally private, you can float naked and leave the door of the tank open if you want. There is a little light you can keep on or off and some props you can use to support you, although the salt and water by themselves provide enough support and a glorious gravity-free experience. That weightlessness experience was mostly what I was craving, but when I looked more into it, I found out that floating has many additional benefits during pregnancy!
To understand how these benefits happen, one of the main things to remember is that we are floating on Epsom salt water. Epson salt is comprised of magnesium and sulfate.
According to the Universal Health Institute, soaking in an Epsom Salt bath is one of the most effective means of making the magnesium your body needs readily available. Supplemental calcium-magnesium is a popular remedy to many pregnancy problems and even in the hospital they will provide IV Magnesium-Sulfate to stop preterm labor.
So, some of the benefits you will experience from floating during pregnancy include:
- Reduce Swelling: Floating takes the pressure off your joints, which is in-it-self already a wonderful sensation. That reduction of pressure can also help reduce edema or prevent swelling. Another popular remedy to reduce swelling is taking magnesium supplements; so floating is an awesome way to combine both treatments!
- Lower Blood Pressure: Blood pressure is closely related to stress levels, so it makes sense to think that the deep relaxation state you can achieve in the float tank could help lower it. But in addition to the relaxation, when your body is relieved from the burden of gravity your blood vessels can fully dilate, reducing blood pressure and increasing blood flow.
- Reduce Stress: Our always rushed, always busy culture leaves little time and space for self-care. It’s stressful! This applies to everyone, but especially if you’re already a mom it can be really hard to get just a few minutes of peace and quiet. The float tank is a cozy, quiet womb-like environment. You can forget about the pains and aches of living in your body. Since there is no sensations to process and nothing else to do except relax, your body needs to spend very little energy and everything slows down. There is no sense of time and meditation happens effortlessly.
- Promotes Mom-Baby bonding: As mentioned before, there is something very womb-like about the float tank. When you turn the lights off and allow your mind and body to drift into deep relaxation, you can often hear your own heartbeat and even your baby’s heartbeat. While listening to those sounds it’s easy to imagine the experience of the baby inside the uterus, which allows for a very special connection.
Although everything you will need is available at the Float Spa, you can bring your own extra large robe to cover your belly well and feel comfortable in case you need to do a bathroom trip in the middle of your float. The float time is 90 minutes! Taking that into consideration, I avoided drinking a lot of water before the float and instead I drank tons after I got out. Also, try eating small high protein snacks before getting in the tank, especially if you’re still experiencing nausea. Try different positions when you’re in the tank! You don’t need to only float on your back! You can use some props and float on your belly or your side for a little while. You will probably not find it hard to get comfortable either way.
You can safely float during first, second or third trimester of pregnancy, but a lot of places won’t allow pregnant floaters after 37 weeks of pregnancy because of the risk of your water breaking during the float (it’s not a big risk by the way, but they take their precautions.)
Honestly, I have a really hard time allowing myself to relax for long periods of time. When I first got into the tank I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things I wanted and needed to do. It was hard to allow myself to just be. I’m thankful for the tools I have learned through meditation and hypnosis, which remind my monkey mind that it’s okay to slow down. Those tools, combined with the wonderful gravity-free experience and many benefits of floatation therapy, did wonders for my self-care.
So, if you want to do something special for yourself to celebrate and honor this pregnancy, consider a trip to Oly Float!
Have your tried Float Therapy during pregnancy? What was your experience like?