The babymoon… what exactly is it? Well put simply it’s the last holiday taken by parents-to-be before the arrival of their baby. It’s the ‘final fling’, the ‘last hoorah’ and a chance to take some time that’s all about you before you new arrival enters your life. Though Mr S has been referring to it as our last *ever* holiday… personally I wouldn’t go that far but there we go!
As well planning for the arrival of baby, planning a really special babymoon for us has been on my mind and I thought I’d shared a few of the tips that I’d picked up along the way.
Timing is one of the most important elements to think of when planning a babymoon but at the end of the day what it comes down to is to is travelling at a time that is most comfortable for you. The first trimester can be a good time as you’re still around your usual size without a big bump to manoeuvre during a holiday or on a plane but some women may want to avoid the first trimester as it’s when morning sickness and tiredness is at it’s worst plus risk of miscarriage is highest. If like me you don’t experience serious sickness, it could be a great time to travel, I went on several trips in my first trimester before I even realised I was pregnant!
The third trimester isn’t an ideal travel time either as you’re at your biggest and most uncomfortable. Flights both short and especially long haul can seem daunting for a heavily pregnant lady, and just being away from home is a worry when you’re later in pregnancy. Speaking of which be sure to check to check the airlines policies on when you can fly in pregnancy (see my next point).
The best time to go on your babymoon is the second trimester, when extreme symptoms of the first trimester having subsided and before the growth spurt of the third trimester. The second trimester is often known as the ‘golden period’ as it’s when you have more energy (perfect for sight-seeing), sleep patterns are regular and for some women your hair is thicker and your skin is glowing.
Personally I would suggest taking the babymoon in weeks 20 – 25 as if you go too early it doesn’t really feel like a final fling, and too late becomes uncomfortable. Slightly annoyingly for us as we found out late, I didn’t have time to plan anything in the earlier stages of my second trimester plus we had other commitments so we’ll be taking our babymoon late in the second trimester (week 27) as I’m moving into the third trimester. Fortunately, I’m carrying quite small and I haven’t had extreme symptoms so I don’t feel too worried about it.
2. Check Airline Policies
Most airlines are happy for women with low risk pregnancies and no complications to fly freely up to 36 or 37 weeks, this is reduced to 32 weeks for twins. Personally I wouldn’t want to travel this late due to worry that I might go into labour while abroad but of course it’s down to your own discretion. I cancelled my trip to Bermuda because I didn’t want such a long flight at 30 weeks and there was no way my trip to Peru could happen was it was due to take place only a few weeks before my due date.
After 28 weeks the airline may ask you for a ‘fit to fly’ letter from your doctor or midwife that confirms when you are due and that your pregnancy is uneventful. As I will be flying back two days after I hit 28 weeks, I have the letter already and tucked inside my passport so I don’t forget it!
Do make sure to thoroughly check your individual airline policies… for example we considered a hotel in Turkey for a babymoon which would have involved an internal flight on Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines need to have the fit to fly letter dated seven days before travel which would have been impossible for us due to the length of the trip that I’d been thinking of doing.
Flying is not a big risk when your pregnant, research has shown that airport scanners are safe for pregnant women and the unborn child. Trust me I was hugely paranoid about this and scoured the internet for advice and everywhere said it’s fine. I even avoided the metal detectors for my first few flights despite every airport official telling me it was ok… they do allow you to do this but you still require a physical pat down if this is what you opt for… so eventually I gave in and just went through the metal detector anyway!
Bare in mind long haul flights give increased risk of DVT and pregnant women are encouraged to stay hydrated, move around a lot and buy compression stockings to reduce swelling.
3. What type of Holiday do you Want
Again this comes down to personal preference – your idea of perfection may be an adventure holiday or an active break but personally in my mind the ideal babymoon is relaxing with your other half in a beautiful destination by the pool, beach, on the lake and enjoying some spa time. But that’s just me and may be some people’s idea of hell.
I would say manage your expectations as you won’t have the energy or agility to do what you used to do. Avoid sports that could involve a collision, scuba diving due to decompression sickness and ‘dangerous’ sports such as skiing where you could fall. Though again this is your discretion and some women may feel confident to take a ski holiday when pregnant.
Consider taking two breaks… I wanted to do a weekend away in Stockholm, a city I’d always wanted to see and explore without a baby in tow plus I wanted the relaxing beach time. We did the city break at 22 weeks while my energy was high.
4. Don’t Over Do it
Following from my last point, I’d really advise not to put too much pressure on yourself to do anything crazy for your final fling. Avoid multiple flights, long excursions and really don’t feel bad about taking the down time. Personally I found after only half an hour of walking around Stockholm and getting in out of a jeep gave me joint and hip pain as the hormone relaxin is loosing up your ligaments. Having said that, use this time to be a bit spontaneous as you life will revolve around baby routines soon.
5. Where to Go
I’ll be writing a separate post on destination ideas for a babymoon and for most this will be one of the most important considerations. There are several questions to ask yourself…. do you want the ease of short haul or the excitement of long haul? This may be dictated by the timings as mentioned above, if you’re taking the babymoon earlier in your pregnancy you may still feel comfortable with travelling long haul. It also depends on your due date, if you’re based in the UK and want some sun in week 25 and you’re due in May you may have limited choice and have to go long haul to get to the sun. In this case you may want to consider medium haul (Dubai, Israel, Morocco, Tenerife?) so you get to the sun but without a long flight and crazy jet lag.
Timing was a little awkward for us with my due date being in August, our last time to travel is mid-May. This limited options for us especially as I didn’t want a flight longer than three hours and I wanted to stick with Europe so we will be risking slightly cooler weather and rain. To be honest, I wouldn’t advise going for somewhere too hot anyway as when you’re pregnant you body temperature is higher anyway plus with the added bump the blazing hot sun will just be very uncomfortable. Remember lots of sunscreen!
Again it depends want you want, I’ve had wonderful (but chilly!) city breaks in Amsterdam, Vienna, Stockholm and Rome so you may choose one of these with no worries about needing sunshine. Your idea of the perfect babymoon might be January in Iceland… but the most important thing is choosing something together that you will both enjoy, look forward to and feel comfortable doing.
You may want to choose to return to somewhere special to you, or maybe there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go and this is your ‘last chance’ to do it. My advice is don’t do anything too clever, personally I wouldn’t choose this holiday as the time to push yourself out of your comfort zone (forget the Inca trail, climbing Kilimanjaro, or traversing Antartica) take the pressure off and take it easy!
You may want to avoid flying altogether for the ease of a staycation, it’s less pressure, you’re near an NHS hospital (if you’re a fellow UK resident) and it’s always lovely to see more of your home country.
Well I’m always thinking of food whether pregnant or not! But it is important to consider your dietary requirements when pregnant – as well as food your doctor has instructed you not to eat, there are the foods that make you feel queasy that you want to avoid at all costs. Check the hotel’s restaurant as well as local restaurants to make sure there’s plenty of choice for you on the menu especially if food is a priority and a pre-requisite of enjoying your holiday. Some destinations may have a cuisine revolving around particular foods that you can’t eat or make you queasy but I wouldn’t rule out these destinations as I personally think there will always be something you can have. Even if the only thing on the menu you want is tomato soup and fries (trust me I’ve been there). Now is not the time for a gastronomic holiday and don’t choose a location with a big focus on food or wine.
When we planned our Stockholm trip, I avoided very high-end restaurants as they tended to serve tasting menus that weren’t available to see online and not only did I not want the mystery of not knowing the ingredients before hand, I also didn’t want to miss out on the full experience of the restaurant. Instead I went for more casual options that were still recommended with great chefs and top notch ingredients but that weren’t overly complicated.
Don’t let dietary rules get you down. Choose romantic places, make sure everything is fully cooked and salads are well washed before you eat them and don’t eat too late (night time acid reflux and hangry pregnant women are not fun!) Check the water safety of the country that you’re staying in and avoid tap water.
7. Hotel Specific
Have a good think about your hotel or accommodation for the babymoon. Do you want to really splurge for your final fling or opt for ‘luxe for less’ owing to the financial pressure of a new addition? Personally I drew up a list of all the hotels I’d always really wanted to go to in Europe and looked at which were most feasible with the time of year, availability and cost and I worked from there.
You may want to pick an adults-only hotel as not only is this your ‘last chance’ to stay there but you may relish the quiet by the pool and in the public areas. When I was researching, I found a few hotels which looked gorgeous and luxurious but also child-friendly so I thought I’d ‘save’ these for a later date when I needed them!
You also may to check there are a few dining options if you don’t want to leave the hotel too much, a spa is a must in my opinion and you may want additional amenities such as a pillow menu.
Consider whats important to you. Maybe you want a villa style room with private pool where you can hide away for the week. Do you want to be close to other shops and restaurants for convenience? Does the hotel offer a special babymoon package with special treats and incentives?
8. Put Precautions in Place
When we were deciding where to go, I made sure to cover anything that may give me a reason to worry. As I have health anxiety and a paranoid fear of any health complications while away, I made sure to double check that there would a hospital in easy reach of any hotel that we chose to stay in. I didn’t leave anything to chance and emailed the hotel directly to ask about medical facilities and maternity wards nearby. Santorini was a consideration for us at one point but I emailed the hotel to ask about hospitals and while there was one nearby, there was no maternity facilities and in case of emergencies mothers are taken to Crete … er no thank you!
Have your medical notes with you just in case and of course make sure you have travel insurance in case anything happens and you do end up in hospital. In regards to vaccinations, this is the NHS stance.
‘Most vaccines that use live bacteria or viruses aren’t recommended during pregnancy because of concerns that they could harm the baby in the womb.’ So therefore avoid places where you need vaccinations or where you may need to take anti-malarials.
Following from my last point, I thought it was worth making the Zika virus a separate entry as this is a very important consideration especially when choosing a destination. Zika is carried by some mosquitoes and can cause severe birth defects in an unborn child if the mother contracts the disease. Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll catch Zika even if you do go to a place there has been a Zika outbreak, it’s seriously not worth taking the risk however small.
10. Schedule in You Time
This trip really is about ‘you’ whether that’s taking the time to pamper yourself or spending time together as a couple. It’ll be the ‘last’ opportunity that you have… so schedule couples treatments, romantic dinners and time together by the quiet pool. You may also want to consider a couples photoshoot, it sounds a bit cringe but we loved the shoot we did for Mr S’s 40th and it’s a chance to get some great pictures of the two of you plus bump at a gorgeous destination.
Think of things that you won’t be able to do once you have a baby to look after and do them now! Also, if you’re staying in a beautiful place with lots of culture and history… but you don’t feel like leaving the hotel, don’t feel guilty about it!
Bonus Point: Packing
Packing for comfort is vital when you’re pregnant, comfy clothes for the flight, loose fitting dresses for the heat, shorts that accommodate your bump and comfortable shoes are a must. Swimsuits maybe a slight grey area; some women proudly show off their beautiful bump in a bikini while some feel self-conscious. I fall into the latter category and have bought a swimming costume to accommodate my current frame, the size of my bump allows me to fit into regular swimwear in a slightly bigger size but there is some lovely maternity pieces that are comfortable and supportive.
Dress for glamour too, I’m a little loathed to spend money on too many new things but I’ve bought a few new dresses that flatter my current shape and make me feel good about myself. I’ve also bought a new bag and shoes so I feel like I have something special to accessorise with but glam sunglasses, a new hat or a fab pair of earrings will all make a difference! Don’t forget plenty of sunscreen, your prenatal vitamins, healthy snacks, maternity notes and those rather glam compression socks.
Leave the heavy suitcase lifting to your partner!
Did you go on a babymoon? Do you have tips for me?
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