Floating and pregnancy

“It’s just that I am feeling so heavy, cumbersome and sore this pregnancy that I would love to feel weightless if only for an hour.”

by Shinichi Moriyama
Float inspired art by Shinichi Moriyama, from the Float On artist project

As always, check with your health care provider first, for any conditions that might be specific to you.  Many people, though, report that they find wonderful relief from the stress of pregnancy in a tank. The dense Epsom salt-laden water gently takes up all the unaccustomed weight you’re bearing, and gives respite to your strained joints.

“I was eight months pregnant when I floated for the first time. Pregnancy takes a toll on every muscle in your body, especially your torso. Ironically, the times when you get a chance to rest is when the baby becomes more active and its weight continues to put stress on your muscles. While floating, I expected the baby to be very active, but was pleasantly surprised. Since there was no pressure from any side, the baby didn’t feel the need to kick or roll around. It was the best rest I’ve had in several months. I would recommend floating to anyone, pregnant or not, for a time of physical and mental renewal.”
(Heather Warren, Oakland, CA)

Here’s a great ten-minute talk from a pair of midwives discussing some of the reasons a pregnant person might consider floating.

Some caution is required.  In the third trimester, it is often recommended that pregnant people not lie on their backs, to avoid compression of major veins by the weight of the uterus. In the weightless environment of a a float tank, this generally isn’t an issue. (Of course, please exercise common sense, change positions if you feel light-headed, and definitely follow your doctor’s advice if it differs from ours.)

With appropriate technique, you can also float prone, belly down. In this position, the pressure from the growing weight of your uterus is completely released. Letting the saltwater take the strain for you can be a wonderful relief. Sidelying is also possible if you use our float cushions and pool noodles for support. Float tanks are also filled with Epsom salts, long suggested as a home remedy for many pregnancy-related ailments.

“At 34 weeks pregnant, my floatation session made me aware of the tension draining from my body and my mind went into a complete state of relaxation. As I floated I felt a strong connection with my baby, it left me blissfully calm.”
(Zaza Patterson, London, UK)

Pregnancy is an emotionally intense time, and frequently a spiritual one. Floating can provide the ideal environment for processing and exploring the experience and the connection with your baby.

“I have facilitated numerous floats with pregnant women and they absolutely love it. Most will share with me that they connected with their child. Many more tell me that they experienced a profound realization of having a child in their womb and them floating in a womb themselves… They say this experience is very difficult to describe but amazingly beautiful.”
(Kane Mantyla, Float Matrix, San Francisco)

“I was 22 weeks pregnant and hadn’t feel my baby’s movement very much, but during my floatation session, I was so relaxed, I became aware of every move.”
(Melanie, London, UK)

“Often times, pregnant women will comment on how relaxed their baby is during their time floating in the tank.  This makes sense, as your baby can read your body.  If you are 100% relaxed while in the tank, your baby will enjoy the relaxation, just as you will.”
(Isolation Tank Experts)

If you’re interested in hypno-birthing or related disciplines, floating can be an excellent natural counterpart therapy.  The deep trance attainable in the tank — a measurable altered state of consciousness — has been shown to meaningfully increase hypnotizability. Get practice attaining it in advance of labor.

“I know that floating helped me so much to be as calm as possible during the birth.  I was actually (mentally) using mantras the entire time, as well as visualization, both of which helped me tremendously.  Birth is an extremely intense process, but I was able to meet it exactly how I’d wanted to and I got the water birth I’d dreamed of.  So, thank you beyond big-time for all your help in creating the best birth for my baby!  She was born calm and content and she’s been that way ever since!”
(Sarah & Samarra, Oakland, CA)

After giving birth, a new parent hardly expects a let-up from the stress and insomnia.  Check with your health care provider how much of a break you should take for physical healing, but once you’re cleared to return, nobody needs the powerful restfulness of an escape to the float tank like someone who has just given birth.

“As a new mom (at the time of my first float), with ZERO full nights rest the first 10+ months after birth, getting a float session was sensational.  At home with a video monitor, I woke at the slightest noise.  …  I was beyond exhausted before floating.  Afterward I remember you mentioned you had to come by 3 times to try and wake me, and I only woke when you firmly pounded on the chamber!  It was the best rest I’ve ever had!  I felt completely rejuvenated and alert as I never have been and have equated it to others as having 5 shots of espresso and maintaining that feeling for the rest of the day without negative consequences.  Just wanted to express my THANKS!” 
(Stacey, Oakland, CA)

Postpartum depression is a sadly common reality for many.  That is yet another thing floating can help with.  It’s crazy how many things there are!  But it’s powerful medicine for the mind, and the mind gets involved in everything.

Pregnant people are advised to avoid hot baths over 100°F, but there’s no need to worry about floating. Tanks are carefully maintained at skin temperature, 93-94°F.

See our other posts related to pregnancy.

About colin

Cofounder, FLOAT. Colin has been an astronomer and a software developer. He's watched the sun set from Angkor Wat and rise over the Arctic Circle, and believes that life is much too important to take seriously.