I have to confess, I sometimes feel like I’m failing a little in projecting the perfect image of a pregnant woman (yep – surprise anyone who didn’t already know!)… I tell people how terribly tired I am when they casually ask how I’m doing, I puff and pant my way around town rather than sailing serenely, and I crave pretty much everything I’m not allowed. My first three months were one long dream about beer, prosciutto and goats cheese… One of the things I really missed above all others though was a good massage. Even though I don’t look all that pregnant yet, there are so many changes going on in my body. I have aches and pains in my hips, knees and upper back, and my feet and legs have started to get really heavy-feeling if I walk around for too long in the heat. I was longing to be able to have someone pummel and stroke away my discomfort and lose myself in a relaxing haze, but no, this is just another of the pleasures that is generally warned against for preggers girls. I was thrilled then to find that the Sutherland-Chan Centre offers a Pregnancy Massage service in such a professional setting that even the most neurotic of first-time mums-to-be feel reassured that this is the real deal.
The Sutherland-Chan Centre is tucked away on the 19th Floor of the World Trust Tower on Stanley Street, and feels a bit more like a doctor’s office than a regular Hong Kong massage place, though there is soothing music playing and nothing clinical in sight. You fill in an extremely detailed question sheet about your general health and areas of your body that you’d like to work on. I felt like taking my pen and drawing a huge circle all around the little diagram of a body – I wanted it all! I was led into a treatment room and introduced to my lovely therapist, Lindsay, who is from Canada, where the Sutherland-Chan Centre has another base. She asked me all about how I was feeling, and went over again the information I’d put on the sheet, asking in-depth questions and putting me at my ease. I must confess, I did struggle a bit when it came to mounting the special pregnancy pillow there is on the massage table – fitting bump and boobs into the allotted holes made me feel a bit ungainly, and I was very glad Lindsay had stepped outside so she didn’t see me lumping myself about! Once you’re settled though, it feels very freeing to be able to actually lie on one’s stomach again and was super comfy.
The actual massage was amazing – unscented oil was used which means you don’t have to worry about the dangers of essential oils, and it was a really different experience from any other massage that I’ve had in Hong Kong, as it really felt like Lindsay was getting right into the troubled spots and then magically soothing them away. Even though the pressure was firm, I didn’t feel like I was being punished and didn’t feel any pain at any time. Therapists at the Sutherland-Chan Centre are trained in the Swedish technique, so it is almost more like a sports massage and pleasantly gets into the deep tissue.
Once the massage was over, Lindsay gave me a few minutes to put myself back together again before returning to talk about some exercises and stretches I can do to avoid my same complaints returning. This was one of the things I thought was most helpful about the whole experience, as it is always nice to feel empowered that you can do something about feeling crap, rather than just having to live with it! All the stretches were knowledgeably adapted to being pregnant, so a lot of them I could do sitting down – my favourite position these days.
I would definitely recommend the Sutherland-Chan Centre for other girls looking to get some preggers relief, and if you wanted to send this article to any husbands and partners out there who might be dodging flying crockery right now as their spouses and girlfriends struggle in the mounting heat, I think that would be a very good idea! You can also check if your health insurance covers pregnancy massage (mine doesn’t very sadly but you might get lucky).
Pregnancy massage at the Sutherland-Chan centre starts from HK$650 for a 45 minute session up to $1200 for a 90 minute session. Gift certificates and packages are available.
Sutherland-Chan Centre, 19/F World Trust Tower, 50 Stanley St, Central. 2544 5838.