When we try to summon the ultimate vision of complete peace, calm and safety, we often think of the developing baby floating in the amniotic fluid of the womb. Dark, warm, and silent (aside from the beating of the mother’s heart). Replace your mother’s heartbeat with your own, and you have the floatation experience.
So floatation, metaphorically, brings us back to the security of the womb.
But is floatation therapy recommended for pregnant women?
First is the stress reduction.
First time mothers particularly can often fear and dread the long ordeal of the birth itself. An hour in the tank can bring a sense of calmness that will help.
Then there is pain relief. Pregnancy is a very physical process. You are literally carrying ten kilos of extra weight on your stomach, putting strain on your hips and lower back. Pain in the joints is common. Floating can alleviate pressure on the joints and muscles, providing some relief from pregnancy-related aches and pains.
After a good float we all sleep better. It is a combination of deep muscular relaxation, and reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Many expectant mothers experience disturbed sleep, and a session in the tank can help with this.
That all sounds good, but there are things that need to be managed to make the experience safe and fun for a pregnant woman.
The first thing is the physical safety of the woman. Once the baby begins developing, a woman’s movement is compromised. In the third trimester you will be bulkier than usual, and care has to be taken because of the risk of falling or slipping. The tank and the changing room are a wet environment, and wet means slippery!
At Zero Gravity Float we have two types of tanks.
The solo tanks are large egg-shaped pods, and you need to lift your leg quite high, then duck your head and shoulders, to get in and out. But we have an alternative – our double tank. This is easier to get into. So it might be a better option if you are pregnant.
Another advantage of the bigger tank is that it allows two people to float together. If you book a float with your partner, there is someone there to support you when entering and exiting the tank, and to lean on to prevent slips. This is less important in the early stages of your pregnancy, but could be vital in the later stages.
And, of course, it is fun to float with a partner.
Another consideration is the temperature of the tank. Women are warned against hot tubs, jacuzzis and saunas during their pregnancy. Prolonged exposure to heat can raise the core temperature of your body, and this has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects in the baby, particularly during the first trimester.
However the floatation tank is not as hot as a hot tub or jacuzzi. It is maintained at body temperature, so the risk of core temperature rising is actually very small. Your core temperature will not rise above body temperature after an hour in the tank.
Many people worry about contaminants in the water. It is a legitimate worry, but we always make sure the tank is cleaned, filtered and sanitised. Our regime is very strict.
Each tank is sanitised for thirty minutes between floats with a powerful UV filtration system, and we use a 1-10 micron bag filter to capture any debris that might be in the water. We use food grade hydrogen peroxide as our disinfectant. Food grade means this is the ultimate in safety for you. Not only do we sanitise the tanks after every float, we sanitise all the potential touch points in the room. Finally, all the tanks are ventilated for a full hour between floats. The bottom line is that concerns are real, but we have them covered.
In the first trimester, your only concern is heat, so it’s recommended to wait at least until the seconded trimester. The second trimester is a breeze for floaters. In the final three months, the main concern is bulk and how it affects mobility. A simple solution is to do a double float with your partner, or a friend. Also if we know ahead of time we can provide extra support for your body during this stage in the form of pool noodles in various lengths and extra buoyant neck supports, so do add a note to your booking so we can have everything set up for your arrival.
Floating is definitely beneficial, and very enjoyable. But if you have any questions, we would be delighted to talk you through it all, and prepare you for what should be a wonderful experience.
Dean Carson is a Cork writer specialising in true crime, and in action thrillers. His Family Feud was a bestseller, and the most shoplifted book in Ireland. He latest thriller series comes out in October. He also works as a comedian and entertainer.