There must be something in the water lately. Off the top of my head, I can count 11 women I know who either gave birth in the past couple of months or are expecting in the next few months (a big congrats to all!). Recently, I found it interesting to learn that statistically, September is the month that sees the highest number of births, even though all of these women managed to avoid this month (so far).

Regardless, September is an appropriate month to consider the benefits of Belly Friendly, a national spa education program that teaches staff proper prenatal service techniques. The program was launched earlier this year by Stacey Denney, who founded Barefoot & Pregnant, a dedicated maternity spa and social community—check out the site’s essays, blogs, columns, and forums—meant to be a resource, guide, and support system for expecting parents and both prenatal and postpartum women. Belly Friendly is not a prenatal massage certification program, but rather, an overall training program that “enhances” the experience for expecting women. In other words, the front desk staff receives training on etiquette; management receives training on physical safety aspects of catering to pregnant women; and therapists receive further training on positioning, techniques, and emotional comfort. The idea: Create an environment and interactions that are “pregnancy friendly” on top of having certified therapists.

So far, 19 spas nationwide have been Belly Friendly trained. Here in Denver, Elixir Mind Body Massage in LoDo is the first to receive the Belly Friendly seal of approval. While some may cringe at the thought of a rubdown while being pregnant, research by Barefoot & Pregnant says an increasing number of expecting women are visiting spas. In fact, more than 60 percent of the survey respondents said they received spa treatments during pregnancy, and almost all indicated they’d choose a spa that specialized in prenatal service, if it was available, over another. The American Pregnancy Association says the benefits of prenatal massage are many: reducing anxiety and symptoms of depression; relieving muscle tension and joint pain; and improving labor outcomes.

So if you’re expecting, head to Elixir for a little Belly Friendly TLC. You deserve it.

Elixir Mind Body Massage, 1518A Wazee St., 303-571-4455,

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