When I first started my photography business over a year ago, a friend introduced me to Anna Belanger of Anna Belanger and Associates.  I was looking for somewhere to display a selection of my maternity photographs and Anna was looking for new photographs to decorate the rooms in her clinic.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to step into Anna’s clinic and see some of my favourite photographs displayed on her walls.

Anna Belanger & Associates

I am currently expecting my third son and when Anna offered me in a massage in exchange for writing about my experience I was thrilled.  Not only do I love to write but being pregnant, parenting 3 and 5 year old boys, and running my own business, means I have a limited amount of time to take care of myself and enjoy the experience of this pregnancy.  Anna’s offer was the perfect reminder that no matter how busy I am, it’s important to take time for myself to enjoy my pregnancy and take care of my aching body.

I love the space at Anna’s clinic for several reasons.  It’s warm, cozy, inviting, and so very quiet!  As a mother of you boys, quiet is something I don’t experience a lot of.  The clinic is a women’s wellness clinic, which means the décor and atmosphere is aimed at welcoming women into the space.  There are beautiful casts of women’s bodies, photographs, and books about childbirth and pregnancy.  Along with being a registered massage therapist, Anna is also a registered Doula.

Anna Belanger & Associates

As a teenager I was a competitive athlete and just over a year ago took up running.  Because of the injuries I’ve experienced, I’ve had a lot of massages.  What I appreciated most about my massage at Anna’s was her knowledge and experience with women and pregnancy.  There are a lot of aches and pains and concerns that are specific to a pregnant woman’s body and it’s important to me that the person who is giving the massage really understands those challenges.  Although pregnancy is a wonderful time it can also be demanding both physically and emotionally, not to mention any possible complications with your health or your unborn baby’s health.

Anna has years of experience working with pregnant women and new moms and her empathy to your experiences during pregnancy is wonderful.  She has worked with pregnant women of all ages (and stages of pregnancy) as well as those whose pregnancies and deliveries were traumatic.  Although massage is about relieving the physical discomfort of pregnancy and relaxation, it’s also an opportunity for you to connect with someone (if you want to) about how you’re feeling during your pregnancy.  Sometimes when you’re pregnant it’s nice to have the opportunity to talk to someone, an unbiased third party if you will, about your experiences.  The Anna Belanger & Associates clinic is a place where you can get that support.

Anna Belanger & Associates

My job as a photographer is fairly physically demanding.  Because I photograph babies, children, and families, I spend a lot of time on the floor and getting up and down (to arrange lights and props and sing and dance).  I have the added challenge of spending an equal amount of time in front of my computer editing and processing images, which I find results in an aching back and hips.  My massage at Anna’s was perfectly timed; I’d just finished three days and 18 Valentine’s photography sessions and was in need of some TLC.

There’s nothing better than sinking onto a cozy, cushioned warm treatment table on your belly, especially when you’re pregnant.  The pregnancy support cushions at the clinic mean you can enjoy your massage on your stomach, which was a relief after spending so much time sleeping and lying on my sides!  Did I mention that it was dark and quiet and peaceful?  I might have already alluded to the importance of that to my experience with massages 😉

If you prefer silence during your treatments, that’s okay.  But if you’d like to talk then Anna will let you guide the conversation wherever it may take you.  Because of ongoing issues with my lower back Anna focused more on treating the areas of discomfort before moving on to a more-relaxation focused treatment.  I especially appreciated the work on my arms and neck, which tend to be especially tense from all the time I spend with my camera and on my computer.

I can’t tell you how helpful massage can be for swelling and discomfort (stiff legs, back) when you spend a lot of time sitting.  At the same time if you have specific trouble zones (back, legs, neck/shoulders), it’s a great opportunity for relief from headaches or pain and discomfort.  I slithered off the table after an hour and might have possible napped for an hour on the couch when I got home.  I am not a napper (nor are my children) so this was a rare treat.

As a third-time mom indulge me in some finger wagging if you aren’t taking care of yourself during your pregnancy.  Eating well, sleep, and massage are all a part of that.  Since seeing Anna I have made a commitment to slow down and make sure I take time for activities that I know will help make my pregnancy a more enjoyable experience.  More time in the pool, more time with my feet up, and more massages!  At only 24 weeks I know I still have several months left and I want to make sure I can enjoy them pain-free before the baby arrives.   I’m also doing my best this time around to embrace my pregnant body (it’s not pretty after carrying two large babies!) and I really appreciated going to a massage clinic that is for women and caters to women’s needs.  It felt good to know that the therapists have seen women’s bodies of all shapes and sizes and that I won’t feel self-conscious about my stretch marks and pregnancy weight.  I know that was a barrier to seeking out massages during my second pregnancy; I had a hard time finding a clinic where I felt comfortable and relaxed.

If you’re already a patient at Anna’s clinic then maybe I’ll see you sometime in the waiting room (I’ll nod quietly so as to not disturb the peace).  If you haven’t been but have been looking for a massage clinic that specializes in treating pregnant women then it’s time to get in touch with Anna Belanger & Associates.  As Ottawa’s only Women’s Wellness Clinic, it’s the perfect place to relax, unwind, and find relief from the aches and pains that pregnancy throws your way.

Anna Belanger & Associates

Sara McConnell Photography ~

Ottawa Maternity Photography / Ottawa Maternity Photographer

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