Just steps from the choking bedlam of Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, in Saigon’s District 3, lies a peaceful haven designed specially for new mums and mums-to-be, Mommy Spa. By Simon Stanley. Photo by Vinh Dao.
From bleeding gums to swollen feet, there isn’t a single part of a woman’s body that isn’t affected by pregnancy. My partner Rosie and I are expecting a baby in October, and along with alcohol, paté, sushi and rollercoaster rides, a regular all-over body massage is yet another thing she’s had to give up.
“It’d be great,” she said recently as we passed by our local spa, “if there was somewhere that specialised in spa treatments for pregnant women.”
As it turns out, there is. Founded in 2009 by Vietnamese mum of three, Mrs Le Ngoc Tuyet Huong, Mommy Spa was the first of only a few such establishments to arrive in Saigon. “Our founder had a lot of trouble while she was pregnant,” says marketing executive, To Thi Yen Nga. “She suffered with sleep-loss, skin pigmentation issues, backache etc… meanwhile she still had to go to work. She wanted to find somewhere she could maintain her health, but at that time it was really difficult. That’s why she decided to build a spa for pregnant women, a place that they can enjoy fitness activities and relaxing massage services. Saigon’s environment is a huge problem for pregnant women since it’s too noisy, crowded and polluted. That’s why, at Mommy Spa, we try our best to address this when they come to our space.”
Using natural and organic products imported from Thailand and Malaysia, plus a range of handmade Vietnamese creams, lotions and oils, alongside specialist spa techniques brought over from Thailand, Mommy Spa offers a long and varied menu of skin, hair and body treatments aimed at expectant mums, new mums, and even their non-pregnant female friends.
In addition to moisturising, smoothing and exfoliating treatments, plus various hair and nail services, the most popular service is their pregnant body massage (priced from VND250,000 and available only after the first trimester), with a ‘regular’ massage offered beside it for friends of those expecting to join in with the pampering.
With Rosie off enjoying her first massage in five months, I take a seat in Mommy Spa’s serene reception area, the scent of lavender wafting in the air and sleep-inducing sounds lilting from the overhead speakers, as Nga explains how a pregnant massage differs from the regular ‘face-through-the-hole’ variety. Firstly, most of the treatment is done lying on one’s side, with special cushions put in place on the chest, between the legs, and under the neck to support the bump and keep the body aligned. “We also change her position regularly so she doesn’t feel the discomfort of staying in one place,” she adds. “And we do not do anything to the belly.”
The spa’s technicians, each with at least five years experience, focus instead on the back, legs, feet, shoulders, neck, head and face. Common pregnancy related problems the procedure aims to address include nausea and sickness, dizziness, headaches, and, of course, the numerous aches and pains that can pop up almost anywhere, particularly in the lower back. Swollen feet is another typical complaint. “Because the blood circulation is not good,” explains Nga, “because of the weight of the belly, pushing on her veins and arteries. The procedure of the massage here aims to help her circulation.”
Antenatal yoga classes are another popular feature of Mommy Spa’s services, taking place in a beautiful studio overlooking the city and bathed in natural light, way up on the top floor away from the chaos below. “Mommy Spa is proudly the only spa that has yoga for pregnant ladies,” says Nga, adding that it is very different to regular yoga. “The baby needs a lot of oxygen, so the core of our yoga class is to give it the most oxygen during the exercises. It also helps a lot of pregnancy pains to go away, like in the back and feet.
“In Saigon it’s truly very difficult to find a specialist yoga class only for pregnant women. Our instructor has 10 years of experience in teaching pregnant yoga.”
Classes take place most mornings and evenings, with single 90-minute sessions priced at VND200,000 and discounts available for bulk bookings.
Of course, the stresses and strains on the body and mind do not disappear with the arrival of a kicking and screaming micro-human, and Mommy Spa provides a range of skin treatments, plus specific yoga classes, to help new mums adjust to their new life (and body). “After pregnancy we help her relax,” says Nga. “We help with the pain and give her some time to take care of herself, with a facial service, for example, or a popular Thai treatment to help her belly become firm again and her waist return to its original size.”
All products used in Mommy Spa’s treatments can also be purchased to take home, such as a Vietnamese coconut oil, made with all-natural ingredients. “It prevents stretch marks by building up the collagen in the skin. It should be used during the first three months for best results.”
Between feeding and changing, changing and feeding, the daily schedule of new parents may not allow for such decadence as a visit to the spa. Even in those last few months of pregnancy, heading out into Saigon’s heat might not seem so appealing. Fortunately, Mommy Spa has the answer. “Sometimes you don’t want to move or go out,” says Nga, “so we have ‘Spa at Home’. We can come to your home, and the procedures are almost exactly the same as here in the spa.”
“It was so good!” says Rosie, emerging from the treatment area freshly showered and fully relaxed. “It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. Although I haven’t had any pain, and I haven’t been too uncomfortable, your body is shifting and changing so much that there’s just a natural tension, and I feel like they’ve just pushed it all out. It was quite deep – firm but not hard. I feel like I’ve been realigned, like everything has been put back where it should be. It feels really good. When can I come again?”
Mommy Spa is at 16 Pham Dinh Toai, District 3
Tel: 09 0664 1616