Spa daze: Pampering getaways for new mums and mums-to-be
From swollen ankles and tiredness to pregnancy skin issues, your body may be long overdue some TLC, writes Aoife Reilly, who discovers Ireland's latest and greatest spa treatments for mums-to-be and new mums
When was the last time you had a spa treatment? Was it a mani-pedi at your local nail salon? Did you finally dust off that facial voucher from last Christmas? Or was it an online deal for a couples' massage that nabbed you 20pc off?
There's a high chance it's been a long time because while we may fill our bathroom's top shelf with beauty products, we rarely spend time or money on beauty experiences. Granted, a spa treatment won't change your life but sometimes the only way to truly relax during pregnancy is to escape to a spa, even for an hour or two.
After all, how likely are you to set aside one full hour to pamper yourself at home without being interrupted by your partner, kids or your phone? A visit to the spa blocks out all of life's distractions and allows you to work on your mind and body for a specific amount of time and taking time for yourself and listening to your body is never more important during and after your pregnancy.
During pregnancy your body is under a huge amount of stress and can suffer from sore muscles, swollen ankles, and extreme fatigue and while beauty therapists are not magicians they can help alleviate these woes and help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Before splurging on more beauty products, take the spa route and pay one of Ireland's best spas a visit. Whether you are in the middle of your pregnancy or a new mum there's plenty of treatments out there that are designed for this special time in your life.
Tucked away in the picturesque and quiet village of Killenard, Co. Laois, The Heritage Hotel and Spa is ideally positioned to entertain the idea of weekly spa visits (it's one hour southwest of Dublin city and two hours from Cork city). The hotel's rooms are opulent and cosy and the location is unspoilt and pretty but the main attraction is the hotel's spa. Stepping into the spa, you'll instantly feel at ease thanks to its modern and comforting interiors. Treatments focus on complete relaxation using products from Espa and Irish brand Voya. The Espa Maternity Pre and Post Natal Treatment, €60-€90, is a deeply nourishing body massage that's designed to relieve stress during and after pregnancy. The treatment is tailored to you and your needs and a course of six treatments is recommended after the first trimester.
Classic old-world style mixed with modern luxury, the Castlemartyr Resort is the perfect escape from everyday life. It sits on 220 acres of green and grassy fields with streams, wildlife and a tranquil lake. Even driving down the resort's driveway on arrival, you'll know that you're in for a delight. From manor state rooms to self-catering lodges to the Presidential suite, the resort's accommodation options are plentiful, but even if you're planning a day trip to the resort's spa, you're still in for an utterly luxurious experience. It features aromatherapy saunas, steam rooms, vitality lounges, nine treatment rooms and a 20-metre swimming pool (a rarity in most spas). While the spa is bright, airy and open, it's incredibly peaceful and you truly feel like you're at a world-class retreat. The spa has several great maternity treatments for mums-to-be including the Phytocare Baobab Ritual, €140. This treatment is all about reducing stress during pregnancy. It uses ethically sourced baobab seed oil (which is great for dry skin) and includes a foot cleanse, a body and scalp massage before finishing with an energising leg massage. Just a 20 minute-drive from Cork city, it's the perfect place to recharge for the day.
Fit for a Queen
When it comes to relaxing spas in the Kingdom you really are spoilt for choice. No matter where you choose there's a good chance you'll be surrounded by idyllic scenery. With breath-taking views of Killarney National Park, Muckross Park Hotel is a firm favourite with many Kerry visitors. Its award-winning spa makes it an even more enticing proposition, especially given that the treatment menu features The Organic Pharmacy, a brilliant organic skincare brand that is based on homeopathic and herbal medicine. The Organic Mama treatment, €120, is a 90-minute face and body treatment for expectant mothers to help ease aches and pains that are often brought on by pregnancy (lower back, legs and ankles). The spa's interiors are quite unique, and its layout is open and bright. After your treatment, make sure to avail of the spa facilities which include a large vitality pool, herbal sauna, steam room and a tropical rain-shower area. It's the perfect precursor to an afternoon exploring the great Killarney outdoors.
Massage and Me
Just over an hour's drive from Dublin, BrookLodge Hotel and Macreddin Village's idyllic setting makes for the most relaxing of rural retreats complete with one-of-a kind facilities. With culinary options on-site that include the first certified organic restaurant in Ireland and a southern Italian eatery, not to mention the village's own store rooms packed with products from some of the best Irish organic producers, it's almost too tempting to spend your entire stay eating delicious things. However, The Wells Spa is well worth your time. The adult-only facility features a floatation room, aroma baths, a mud chamber, double treatment rooms, an outdoor hot tub and an indoor to outdoor swimming pool. This spa is quite unique in that all the water used on-site is sourced from the village's natural spring (the heating and hot water comes from Ireland's largest hotel geo-thermal heat recovery system). Because it's for grown-ups only, it's a great option as a babymoon before your little one arrives. The Mum-to-Be Pamper Experience, €90, includes a tailor-made massage which is adapted to each stage of your pregnancy (12 weeks onwards) and is designed to relieve and soothe tension in the body. The treatment also features Babor Skinovage Px Advanced Biogen Intensive Repair Cream, a herbal and plant-based moisturiser that encourages better cell renewal. The 75-minute treatment is ideal for expectant mums who are suffering from dry skin. The hotel's setting is fabulous, the facilities are second to none and the attention to detail across the resort is incredible - it's a weekend stay that gives the ultimate countryside retreat experience.
We tend to associate spas with rural peaceful locations in the middle of the countryside but there's something unique about taking one or two hours out of your day and relaxing right in the middle of Dublin's city centre. It's also a great way if you don't have the means of travel or are particularly tight for time. It's here where you'll find Oslo Beauty. Now located in three locations; Mespil Road, Ranelagh and Arnotts, they offer a range of beauty experiences from nails to waxing to massage and skincare. The salon customises and adjusts facials to suit your pregnancy and skincare needs. However, if you are a new mum, the Illuminating Facial, €90, is a definitely worth a try. This is a results-driven facial and can be extremely beneficial if your skincare regime has fallen by the wayside since you've become a mother. The treatment features Image Skincare, a great brand for problematic skin, and involves a blend of powerful antioxidants and enzymes to help remove dead skin cells and enhance your natural glow.
When it comes to spa facials, they can be broken down into two categories - those that are designed for relaxation and those that are designed to target and treat your skin worries. The latter are arguably more attractive to some - after all, why spend money to not see results? During pregnancy, you are sometimes faced with skin issues that you may not have dealt with before, your skin may be feeling tired, sensitive or just worn out. The Spa at the Shelbourne is a great place to indulge in an effective yet relaxing treatment. The Tips to Toes package, €190, includes a facial treatment that firms and plumps the skin while helping to alleviate dark circles. Designed for mums-to-be, its aim is to leave the skin feeling moisturised, radiant and rejuvenated. A pedicure then follows to help ease leg pains. No matter what stage of pregnancy you are in, remember to chat to your beauty therapist before the treatment explaining your main concerns and what you would like. In my experience the staff at the Spa at the Shelbourne are incredibly attentive and truly listen to your needs. The fact that one of Dublin's busiest shopping streets is just a few metres away is completely forgotten from the moment you enter the classic yet elegant space which is also located next to the hotel's glamorous beauty salon and health club.