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Review: Watsu Aqua Therapy During Pregnancy

Posted February 22, 2016 by Bethanie Lunn

ÏI recently tried Watsu (WaterShiatsu) during pregnancy at 39 weeks.  The words, ‘release’, ‘ease tension’ and ‘reduce stress’ sounded like a dream come true so I was, quite literally, aching to try it.  Here’s what I experienced and why I’ll be returning regularly during the fourth trimester…

What is it?

Watsu is a complementary therapeutic treatment method comprising passive stretches and massage techniques that occur in 34-35°C warm water, in my case – the saltwater and Ozone pool at Little Dippers, Brighton.

My session was carried out by Judy Fox of Watsu Aqua Therapy who trained in Europe and in the USA with the founder of Watsu, Harold Dull. You can’t get better than that!

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The lovely and talented Judy Fox

A blend of fluid movements, gentle stretches, rotations and accupressure are undertaken, allowing joints and muscles to let go of pain and tension. Jude describes it as seaweed–like movements that release the spine and the mind quietens into a deep, almost meditative, state of relaxation.

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What makes it so great during pregnancy?

Just picture it – floating weightlessly in warm water, being gently held and guided into movements that stretch and relieve you (movements you wouldn’t be able to do out of the water), ultimately freeing your aches and pains.  Being supported in such a comforting and nurturing way that you let go – mind and body – and finally relax, into the deepest, almost mediative state you have done for a very long time.  As a bonus, your body will feel like it’s slept for hours and had a massage while you’re at it.

Have you pictured it?  Pretty. Darn. Awesome-sounding right?

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Me – blissing out

What else?

Watsu alleviates common pregnancy symptoms including:

  • Backpain
  • Insomnia
  • Siatica
  • Emotional anxiety
  • Swelling
  • Heaviness of the legs

Proven Results

A recent study* with pregnant women evaluated the effects of Watsu on pregnancy-related complaints in third trimester pregnant women. Outcomes claim safe methods to reduce pain, stress, and fatigue. In fact, Watsu was shown to significantly lower participants’ levels of stress and pain and to improve their mental health-related quality of life and mood with no negative side effects.

What happened?

After a warm welcome and consultation with Jude, I changed into my improvised swimsuit (bikini bottoms and a maternity vest as I couldn’t fit into anything else!), and got into the invitingly warm pool.  Jude fastened floats to both ankles and guided me into the middle of the pool.

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Closing my eyes, she lead me into a state of relaxation and gently lay me back into her arms for the session to begin.

In just 45 minutes, my body was taken on a journey, guided through flowing movements that took no effort on my part.  I thought I’d struggle to switch off and have 101 thoughts racing through my mind (as per usual), but instead, the only words that entered my mind were, ‘trust’, ‘relax’ and ‘let go’.  It might sound odd or deeply hippy but I didn’t plan it, yet that’s all I thought about.  Not in a repetitive, drive-you-mad rotation but in a way that these words, which ultimately became states in which to feel, just entered and left my mind throguhout.

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I was aware of the movements Jude was guiding me through and adored the side stretches which opened up my hip area and relieved my spine – both God-sends during the physically challenges and tension I had in trimester three.  However, although I could feel every move, I went on a type of profound journey of my own.  In Watsu, it is described as an almost meditative state, which I find accurate.  For the first time in too long a time, I was able to fully let go and simply enjoy what was happening.

What did it feel like?

It felt dream-like.  Time passed so quickly and afterward I felt like I’d had an undisturbed full nights sleep.  As a parent – you’ll know how rare those actually are! It also felt like an incredibly special experience just for me and my baby, giving us bonding time as we both went on a journey of release.  For these reasons, I think Watsu is great preparation for birth too.

That night, I slept far better than I have done throughout this pregnancy.  the feeling of weightlessness returned to me a few times and instead of stressing about what I need to do or how uncomfortable I was, I found my mind returning to that relaxed state and just felt and thought the word, RELAX.  It wasn’t a conscious effort, it just happened and that’s magical.

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Me – afterwards, feeling magically relaxed

Verdict

A detox for the mind and body – one that cleanses, rejuvenates and relaxes you inside and out for a magically freeing feeling.  Highly recommended.

Cost and Other Stuff:

  • 1hr Watsu session £75 (45 mins watsu)
  • 30 min Watsu session £40 (20 mins watsu)

Sessions are available in Brighton, Sussex and London. Find out more here.

*This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.govNCT01708018.

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