By Pam Dillon
Feeling a little achy and anxious as your pregnancy progresses? Seek out expert TLC, support and comfort at a special place in old Ottawa south. Anna Bélanger and Associates is a registered massage therapy clinic dedicated to women at all stages in life, but it is most well known for its prenatal massage and services.
The woman behind it is pretty special too. Not only is Anna Bélanger an experienced Registered Message Therapist (RMT), doula, mentor, educator and mother of four, she’s also an inspiration for other moms. In fact, a few months ago Anna was selected to serve as a Dove inspirational role model. It’s easy to see why.
In her clinic at 1097 Bank Street, you’ll notice all the rooms are equipped for prenatal therapy, all the therapists are women, and all are well trained to assess and treat pregnancy related issues.
“Our goal is to provide a safe and comforting space for women while providing therapy,” Anna explains, adding pregnant women appreciate being surrounded by knowledgeable, nurturing people who really understand this time in their lives. The moms-to-be benefit both physically and emotionally from comprehensive, holistic care.
“We offer prenatal yoga and have recently added a Preparing to Breastfeed course by a certified lactation consultant. We also then teach the parents infant massage so that they are confident in soothing their babies while developing a deeper bond.” Continuity in care extends beyond pregnancy. “We allow our new mothers to bring their babies into the clinic the first few months.” This permits them to continue having treatment and to relax in a welcoming setting.
Anna says expectant moms book prenatal massage for various reasons. “Often it is for their well-being as they embrace the changes in their bodies. Other times it is because of the pains and discomforts they are experiencing, [such as] back pain, hip pain, leg cramps, insomnia, neck and shoulder discomfort.”
It really makes a difference. “First and foremost we help decrease the pains and discomforts [that come] with pregnancy.” But the relief doesn’t end there. “Oftentimes clients will ask me questions that have to do with labour and delivery and I am able to decrease their anxiety.”
Massage can be provided during labour as well. “Massage therapy is safe at any time in pregnancy, including [before] 12 weeks. Some clients will start to feel discomforts sooner, second-time moms especially.”
Besides the magic of those healing hands and the relief that comes from hearing answers from an expert, there is also comfort in the sense of community created through Anna Bélanger and Associates. Soon-to-be moms are guided to other helpful community resources that can benefit them in pregnancy and later.
Clearly, there’s a need. “I am overwhelmed and honoured by the response of our community,” Anna admits. Within nine months of opening the clinic, she had to move to larger quarters. Today there are six therapists, hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Anna is recognized as a community leader. “I think the greatest honour was being nominated and winning the Dove Inspirational Role Model Award for Ontario,” she remarks. For details about Anna Bélanger and Associates, see annabelanger.com