By Jill Smith on September 7, 2019
Pregnant women can absolutely use float tanks, in fact, there are quite a few benefits to floatation therapy while pregnant. The weightless sensation of floating can diminish hip pain by reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve and also eliminating your center of gravity. The floating sensation can also reduce back strain by temporarily removing the added weight of pregnancy.
As with all activities during pregnancy, moms-to-be should consult their personal care provider before participating in any float sessions.
Benefits of floating while pregnant
In addition to common benefits of floating, floating during pregnancy comes with some additional benefits for pregnant women. The weightlessness and relief of back pain are only the beginning.
1. Stress reduction for expecting mothers
Stress relief while floating is common knowledge and is frequently discussed in the floating community. The reduction of stress during pregnancy is critical to the mother's health as well as the baby. Slowing down, reducing your heart rate, and breathing slowly are great ways to reduce your personal stress levels, and provide your baby a soothing and calm environment.
2. Improved sleep and relaxation
Restlessness and the discomfort that comes with pregnancy will commonly disrupt sleep and lead to insomnia. The lack of sleep and proper rest are major factors that can lead to irritability and tiredness. Many floaters can attest to the experience of increase rest and relaxation after a long float. A better night's sleep during pregnancy is achievable after just a small handful of floats. It's a much better alternative to sleep-inducing medications that may not be 100% safe to take during pregnancy.
3. Magnesium absorption
Magnesium is an important mineral for biological function and women are encouraged to increase their magnesium levels during pregnancy. Magnesium is one of the compounds in Epsom salt, which is used to increase buoyancy in a float tank. It's commonly found in foods such as spinach, almonds, and avocados but it can also be absorbed through the skin. Floating is a wonderful way to easily boost magnesium levels in order to meet the recommended intake.
4. Discomfort and pain relief
One of the most important benefits of floating while pregnant is the reduction in physical discomfort and pain that can be achieved with just a 60 minute float. Most women feel some levels of discomfort during pregnancy and the weightless sensation of floating is a great way to provide immediate relief. Interestingly, at later stages in pregnancy, many women find additional comfort floating in the "prone position". This is a float position where you are lying facedown with your elbows resting on the tank floor and your chin resting on your hands. Float tanks generally have less than 12" of water so this should be possible. Floating in this position allows the muscles in your back, abdomen, and pelvis to become disengaged and relax.
5. The "mirror effect"
The mirror effect is best described as sharing a similar floating experience with your child. When your body is suspended in a float tank and the baby is floating inside of your womb, a mother is sharing a similar experience to her child.
A mother experiencing a similar sensation to their baby in the womb is an amazing way to deepen your connection and bond with your child.
Floating during the first trimester
A very common warming from float centers across the country is that you should not float during the first trimester of pregnancy.
This is quite a definitive statement, yes?
We attempted to research this claim but ran into some immediate challenges. Could it be that floating so early in pregnancy actually posed a risk to an unborn child? After scouring the internet and multiple scientific references, we came up empty handed.
It seems that multiple float centers across the country are all quoting this statement as if it were fact. Why could this be?
Well, a bit more searching led to this post from Fadeaway Floatation. The author, Talia Chaffee, reached out to Lee Perry from Samadhi Float Tanks regarding the avoidance of floating during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Lee responded as follows:
“Talia, thanks for asking. I have only come across this idea recently, after recommending floating throughout pregnancy, for the entire time, since the beginning. I tell moms-to-be to talk to their practitioner about everything they do during their pregnancy, since that is a relationship of confidence and assistance. If you're doing that, your guide will let you know if they have a question about your activities, and if they do, you can research your particular situation.”
It seems that the idea of avoiding floating during the first trimester of pregnancy is a fairly recent phenomenon. Lee Perry has been involved in the float community since the 1960's and states that even back then, they were advising women that floating at all stages of pregnancy was perfectly safe. According to the Fadeaway Floatation post above, Talia Chaffee theorizes that float centers are maintaining this policy because the first trimester of pregnancy is the time period when most miscarriages occur. Float centers likely want to avoid any association with their spa and any potential miscarriage. While totally understandable from a float center's perspective, I can't say that I agree with the fear based perspective and prevention of soon-to-be mothers experiencing the the physical benefits of floatation.
Hopefully these benefits and tips helped answer your questions about floating while pregnant. The benefits of floating extend well beyond the few tips listed here. If anything, just being able to enjoy 60 minutes of relaxing peace and quiet is enough of a benefit for anybody.