Is Float Therapy Safe During Pregnancy? In this article, we tell you everything you need to know. Pregnancy is an exciting time! You’re preparing to welcome a new family member and for everything in your life to change. It’s also a time during which you are experiencing physical changes. Along with all of the great things happening – including positive physical changes like thicker hair and glowing skin – you are bound to experience various types of discomfort throughout your pregnancy. If you’re looking for a natural way to relieve many of the troublesome pregnancy aches and pains, you might be considering float therapy. Which begs the question: Is float therapy safe during pregnancy?
The short answer is yes! Flotation therapy is a terrific way to relieve physical pains, as well as inducing relaxation. It’s a way to enjoy “me” time when everything else around you can seem – well- pretty crazy. However, the long answer to the question is a lot more complicated. And there are, of course, a few caveats and things that you should know about floating during pregnancy.
WHAT IS FLOAT THERAPY?
Let’s start from the beginning. What is float therapy, anyway? And why on earth is everybody suddenly talking about it? The odds are that if you are reading this, you have seen commercials or signs for float therapy in your city. Sensory Deprivation has been growing in popularity in part thanks to famous floating enthusiasts like comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, author Tim Ferriss, and others, and with good reason. As life becomes busier with more and more things on our to-do list, the prospect of simply floating in a sensory-reduced environment can sound pretty good! But the fact of the matter is that there is much more to it than that.
Floating, also known as R.E.S.T. (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy), involves entering a precisely temperature-controlled float tank with approximately 13 inches of water nearly saturated with 1000 Lb of Epsom Salt. Most float centers refer to these as pods or float tanks. The water is kept at room temperature, and it is imbued with Epsom salt, which is what allows you to float without any effort. This is just one of several reasons why it is impossible to recreate this feeling in a home environment. Even if you had a bathtub big enough for you to float freely, it would be challenging to maintain the water temperature.
Actual, measurable physical benefits augment the feeling of floating. From calming restless minds to soothing aching muscles, reducing inflammation, and much, much more, Float therapy is becoming the fastest developing therapy in the field of health & wellness. The float pod is silent and dark, with the option of lights and relaxing music, if you prefer. There’s no need to worry about feeling claustrophobic as the size and shape of the float tank create a feeling that has been described as “infinite space.”
Sounds pretty relaxing, right? Without all the distractions of sensory input and without having the day to day strains of carrying your body’s weight, adjusting the posture, and so on, your nervous system and your musculoskeletal system can let go and relax. The rest of your body and mind will follow right along with it.
Common Physical Complaints Related to Pregnancy.
The side effects vary significantly from woman to woman, of course, as well as throughout pregnancy. Most women, however, experience at least some of the following – to varying degrees – during pregnancy:
• Back pain
• Feet swelling
• General body aches and pains
• Sleep Disruption
• Nausea or other digestive issues
To take a look at how floating can help with these symptoms, we should first consider the causes. Precisely what is going on during pregnancy that is manifested as these symptoms?
- First of all, your body is working extra hard. You need more energy and nutrients to grow your baby. It’s a simple equation – nurturing another human being is a massive task that requires superhuman strength. Consider that this human-growing business is going on alongside all of the other things that you still need to do in your everyday life – from cooking or cleaning to working or chasing kids, engaging in creative work – and keeping relationships intact. It’s a tall order, and it’s no wonder why that your nervous system – and the rest of your body- get exhausted at times. It’s to be expected. All of the excitement and the stress – both positive and negative stresses – associated with getting ready for a baby affect both your body and your mind. There are financial considerations, getting a baby room ready and planning for birth, to name a few of the things you will likely have on your plate. So, in a nutshell, you’re working hard, and your body gets tired! Your mind follows right along with it.
- Secondly, hormones are attacking you! Pregnancy is a veritable hormone rollercoaster. Hormones change as your pregnancy progresses. They are responsible for getting your body ready for delivery, but they also affect your mind. Rising and lowering levels of estrogen, progesterone, and HCG can make you feel irritable, moody, or depressed. Thankfully, these symptoms transitory.
- Third, you are carrying excess weight. In a healthy pregnancy, a woman needs to gain a certain amount of fat, along with the “baby weight,” which includes not only the baby but amniotic fluid, the placenta, increased blood volume, and everything else that goes along with it, including the amount of pressure, exerted on the body. The point is that the increased weight you are carrying is hard on your back and your joints because the weight is not distributed evenly, you are likely feeling muscular imbalances, strains, and general soreness. This can also make sleeping difficult, which compounds the problem. Being in constant pain and not sleeping well is a vicious cycle that reinforces itself, the longer it goes on.
No doubt, there are a few more troublesome symptoms that could be added to this list. That’s the not-so-great news. But the good news is that floating can help alleviate many of these bothersome physical aches and pains, in addition to its invaluable qualities of relaxation.
HOW DOES FLOATING HELP WITH PREGNANCY?
Doesn’t floating in a warm pool of water sound amazing? Just picture it. Dark and quiet, the picture of absolute peace! The number one quality of flotation therapy, which helps to alleviate painful pregnancy symptoms is the feeling of weightlessness. Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is often described as a feeling of total relaxation.
Many doctors recommend swimming as one of the best forms of exercise during pregnancy. Why is that you may wonder? It’s because the weightlessness of swimming takes the pressure off your joints and the weight off of your back. When you attend a floating session, there is a feeling of being wholly suspended with nothing pulling or pushing on you.
floating can treat pregnancy-related soreness.
In addition to helping with muscle aches, floating can also treat pregnancy-specific soreness and decrease inflammation throughout the body. Feet swelling is a quite annoying and prevalent problem during pregnancy. The Epsom salt in the water can help to work the extra fluids out of your feet, making you feel more comforted.
Especially during the third trimester, there is a lot of pressure on the body’s organs. The extra work you are doing is part of it, but the other part is that your organs are being “squished” by the baby. It can put pressure on the lungs, making it harder to take deep breaths, and this pressure can interfere with digestion. During a 60-90 minute float tank session, all of that pressure is gone! Imagine the feeling of relief. Deep breathing has numerous benefits, from relaxation to increased oxygenation.
There are several critical differences between swimming and relaxing during a floating session. Because of the Epsom salt in the water of the floating tank, floating is entirely effortless. This allows you to relax all your muscles. The Magnesium Sulfate brings added benefits of decreasing inflammation and even increasing magnesium absorption! As incredible as that sounds, it’s true. The magnesium in Epsom salt can be absorbed transdermally (through the skin). Coincidentally, magnesium is a mineral that many pregnant women are deficient in.
Floating in a sensory deprivation tank helps relieve leg cramps.
Also, the water is maintained at an exact temperature (Skin temperature). There are no fluctuations in temperature and no cold breezes! The ambient temperature and the environment are carefully controlled, as well. And, of course, there’s no one there to splash you in a floating tank!
The float tank encourages restful sleep (in pregnant and non-pregnant folks alike!) The feeling of relaxation from the tank is not only renewing but often translates into better sleep as a side effect of both decreased bodily aches and pains and increased mental wellbeing.
The Mirror Effect
Lastly, there is a physiological phenomenon that is called “The mirror effect,” wherein many women feel a special connection with their baby as they experience that same womb-like feeling of floating and weightlessness. It has been described in many different ways – as a feeling of spiritual or physical connection, or a way to feel a deeper understanding and appreciation for the presence of your baby. In any case, what a neat side effect that is!
FLOAT THERAPY – IS IT SAFE DURING PREGNANCY?
Of course, the number one consideration during pregnancy should always be the safety and health of mother and baby. If you have a specific medical condition or concerns or questions about floating, we would recommend speaking with your health care practitioner. Only he or she can advise you concerning your specific needs.
That said, floating is not dangerous in any way. Any restrictions on floating would be the same ones that would be in place for swimming or taking a bath. This means that barring any unusually specific medical issues during pregnancy. The only contraindication would be if your water has already broken. (In which case, you’ll no doubt be too busy to think about coming to the float center!)
More and more, pregnant women are seeking natural and holistic solutions to the pains that are associated with pregnancy. After all, pregnancy is not an illness; it is a physical state of being. Floating is as safe as your bath, after all. And far more relaxing.
Compare that with the safety profile of modern medicine. Indeed, there are situations where doctors prescribe or recommend medication as necessary during pregnancy. However, in terms of handling the everyday discomfort, finding ways to minimize the use of medications – even those that are deemed safe for pregnancy – is prudent.
It’s also important to note that floating pods are very safe. The water in the tanks is barely 10-13 inches deep, and the salts in them assure total buoyancy. It takes absolutely no effort to float on your back, but if you feel more comfortable on your stomach (as may be the case during later pregnancy), the float spa can provide you with floats to keep your head above the water. Whatever works best for you is what’s right.
As for concerns about cleanliness, you can be assured that a floating tank is kept hygienic by a variety of methods. First of all, the salinity of the water is a natural cleaner that inhibits bacterial growth. Additionally, the water is filtered and tested, and all clients must shower and wash thoroughly before entering the tank.
If you can enter the sensory deprivation float tank with an optimistic but realistic view as to its potential benefits, you’re quite likely to leave feeling much better than when you came in! The effects of floating are somewhat cumulative and will last beyond the length of your session. Meaning that if you enjoy floating during pregnancy, you can continue to come in regularly.
We probably aren’t too far from a time when float therapy is considered a regular part of self-care and is recommended by most physicians. This non-invasive and all-natural activity has so many benefits, it’s almost definitely worth a try! You might find yourself addicted to the float tank and continuing floating after the baby comes. Many new mothers appreciate the peace, quiet, and the feelings of physical relaxation and independence of a float spa session.
Benefits of floating inside a sensory deprivation pod
Indigo Float in all three float centers (Denver, Jacksonville, and Orlando) is committed to bringing the benefits of Flotation Therapy to the community as well as providing a most needed quiet time for every Mom to be out there. For more information on Float Therapy and how it can be beneficial to you, check out our Facebook page, where we regularly upload useful and educational information on floating and mental wellness in general.
Written by: daynanoffke
Edited by: LegionRank