Watsu for a Peaceful and Balanced Pregnancy

Watsu with Janis at the end of her pregnancy, Spain.

In our Western culture, mothers-to-be are under high levels of stress and often view pregnancy as a medical condition. Stress is one of the greatest enemies of a healthy pregnancy.  In ancient Chinese medicine, it is believed that pregnancy is joyous and natural, and that the energetic connection between mother and baby is formative. An old Chinese proverb says: “The mother shouldn’t ever look with a crooked eye, her ears should never listen to bad things, her mouth should not say any bad word”. While this may seem extreme or even impossible, expecting families can take measures to ensure that the childbearing year is a low-stress and special time.

As the baby grows, body’s systems may be challenged to keep up; hormones and big emotions flow freely, sometimes like a roller coaster.  The progressive bonding that naturally happens between mother and child during pregnancy and beyond is significantly increased when the mother is able to stop, look inward, and listen.  Massage during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum has a long and honorable tradition and is one of the safest and most effective ways to reduce tension, stress, and anxiety.  Aditional benefits of prental massage include decreasing chronic muscle tension, increasing blood and lymphatic circulation, reducing swelling, fostering deep breathing, along with relief of back, shoulder and neck pain, muscle spasms, sciatica, and stress relief. Massage also supports the dynamic physical and emotional changes of pregnancy.

Water is the source of life on this planet. It is an environment familiar from before birth, as babies grow in amniotic fluid, and it is an ideal medium for massage during pregnancy. As Michel Odent, internationally famous childbirth pioneer, says: “It is during their pregnancies that many women develop an enhanced capacity to rediscover forgotten aspects of Human Nature. Via their strong attraction to water, many pregnant and labouring women tell us that Homo Sapiens are more aquatic primates than is usually believed”.  Being immersed in water feels especially good when you’re pregnant, and there are many physiological reasons why. Now imagine how amazing it is to receive stellar bodywork in warm water, nearly free of gravity and with 360 degree movement!

Watsu session with Daron at the end of her pregnancy, Portland
Watsu is an aquatic bodywork technique based on the framework of Shiatsu and includes acupressure with fingers, thumbs, and palms; assisted stretching; and joint manipulation in warm water. Watsu is an ideal wellness practice for pregnancy because it supports your joints, allows for safe stretching and lengthening, and ultimately can make a difference in your comfort   and confidence during pregnancy, labor, and recovery. It has also been proven that Watsu can help with labor induction and breech position.

Watsu with Theresa at the end of her second thrimester, Portland
During a Watsu session you will be gently and safely floated, rhythmically moved, stretched, and massaged. The weightlessness and warmth of the water decompress the spine, loosen joints, and relax muscles. You will feel a freedom of movement that liberates tension. Thoughts and feelings flow freely and are cleansed. A feeling of peace and wellness overcomes the body and spirit. As if in the womb herself, the mother feels warm, secure, and serene, which creates the ideal environment for nurturing the connection between mother and baby, as well as strengthening trust and acceptance of the journey ahead.

Victor Barreda-Pazos
Founder of Aqua4Life Prenatal Watsu and Massage. 
Watsu Professional and Licensed Massage Therapist in Oregon #22189.  

I currently offer prenatal Watsu at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center, and prenatal massage at Zenana Spa, both locations in Portland, OR. As I became a father seven years ago, I discovered a new passion for the power of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood.  It is my most sincere belief that we can make this world a better place by better caring for pregnancy and birth.  The services that I offer to pregnant women, newborns, and couples deeply honor and enrich the childbearing year and inspire health and balance.

Watsu with Espe two days before her natural birth at home, Spain
“I received a Watsu session two days past my estimated due date. I had painful contractions every ten minutes. I entered into the warm water and the discomfort of the contractions stopped. I weighed nothing, my belly weighed nothing, and we rocked. With my eyes closed, looking into myself and connecting with my baby, we were gently moved through the water. It was quiet, there was peace, there was introspection. I felt like my baby was no longer inside of me, as if the two of us were cuddling and dancing a relaxed and tender aquatic dance. I was planning a hospital birth, but my second child was born two days later in a beautiful vaginal birth at home. I did not tear and I had no problems with my previous cesarean birth. I was relaxed, calm, secure, and deeply peaceful, just as I was when I emerged from the session.” – Esperanza (Spain)


Winter Solstice and the Dreamland

Community floatings are warm, sacred, and nourishing.

Welcome Winter!  The element of Earth, of life and death.  In my little family, we celebrate the Earth, the seasons, and the elements, an alternative to religion called Earth-based Spirituality.  We have found it so helpful in understanding our natural cycles, making the ordinary extraordinary, and connecting us with simple yet ancient rituals.  Winter is such a special time of year, but it gets a bad rap.  Our culture is isolating as it is, so add 14 hours a day of darkness and near-freezing temperatures and suddenly Portland seems like a ghost town.  The magic is in the hearth.  Yes, we feel the bed calling a little earlier each night, and the messages are wise--semi-hibernation is a good idea, and dreams can be foreshadowing and inspiring.  While Winter pulls us towards our darkest work and solitude, the need for connection remains, and it is in our sanctuaries, our homes, our fireplaces, that we curl up with those who soothe our souls, and we theirs.  Our families and dear friends, our sweet communities, they still need us and we still need them, but in a softer way.

The delicate and unpredictable nature of Life shows itself in Winter, bringing us face-to-face with death and our deep gratitude for the basic necessities which we have covered in abundance: shelter, warmth, clean water, hot food, blankets, and socks.  We pray for those without shelter and we watch in wonder as the trees snap and fall under the weight of the cold ice.  From this place of gratitude, we give thanks.  We gave thanks at the last harvest of the season for all the bounty our good Earth provides, and we continue to give thanks, for the mere fact that we are surviving winter.  Now at Solstice, we have faith in the sun's return and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Gift-giving is a tough subject for me.  I have strong feelings about Christmas consumerism.  However, I do believe deeply in our natural desire to give generously, and the possibility to give responsibly.  I would love to see giving spontaneously when the urge arises, rather than a culturally prescribed giving that is more like a checklist than a heart spilling over.  Well, since the checklist isn't going anywhere, can we spill our hearts into our checklist of people, whom we love and care for?  Can we commit to quality over quantity, to sustainability, to our local economy? 

I offer my services because it is my calling, my passion, and I have seen the beautiful effects of my work.  When you purchase a gift certificate for an Aqua4Life session, you are giving health, a memory and a enriching, dreamlike experience.


Aqua4Life's Story


Once upon a time, a child was born and raised near Valencia, Spain. My name is Victor and I loved spending my summers swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. Water has always been my favorite element.  As a child, I discovered a natural talent for sensing and alleviating pain through touch, leading me on a journey to become a Physical Therapist in 2005. In 2006, a big cruise through the Mediterranean Sea Brought me to my next adventure in Liguria, Italy.
After working for two+ years in Italy in different realms of physical therapy, partly using water as a healing tool for differently-abled children and adults, I decided to take a trip to Mexico to get to know more about this wise land.

During my travels to Central America, I met my life partner and I discovered Watsu, two very important parts of my life now.  I took my first Watsu class in Guatemala on the healing land of Lago Atitlan. Later, my now wife and I traveled to the US in 2009 and found ourselves living just a few miles from Harbin Hot Springs, where Watsu was created in the 1980's.  I took Watsu 1 there, in the heartland of Watsu, and I realized that I was being iniciated into a path of growth that I will journey throughout my life.  

We moved to Spain to welcome our first son, Fénix, and I accompanied my wife, Jessie, through her one weekend a month year long Doula training, taking care of our baby and gaining very useful knowledge from the maternity world.
After over 400 hundred of hours of training, mostly in Spain, I became a Watsu® Professional with the International School of Watsu in 2012. Meanwhile I worked part time as a phisical therapist and aquatic bodyworker at 3hrehab, a residential programme which includes physical therapy, aquatic bodywork, health education and conection with Nature, in my hometown at the beach of the Mediterranean.
International school of Watsu video

 The following year, my family relocated to Portland, Oregon and I started a new career as a preschool teacher. I wasn't able to work legally as a bodyworker at the time, and I developed a new skill set and lots of little friends.  Finally, I founded Aqua4Life in 2016 after completing my Oregon licensure in Massage Therapy.

While I love offering a variety of bodywork techniques such as Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release, Shiatsu, Craniosacral Therapy, Trigger Point Therapy, Maitland Manual Therapy, and Ayurvedic Massage, there is nothing like these amazing healing modalities in warm water.  You don’t have to be a swimmer or a fan of the water to appreciate the full-body embrace of warm water. 

I invite you to try it at least once in your Life, hopefully many more times. You can book online  here.
 We accept MVA's and a few health insurance including: Regence, Moda, Pacific Source, Lifewise, and Washington State. 

Aqua4Life is a service for the Portland community, with the aim of being aacessible to clients at a range of income levels. PLease contact me at aqua4lifepdx@gmail.com for information about sliding scale payment options.