Ask anyone with small children about going on holiday and their eyes will probably roll. The lack of sleep due to over excitement, the tears, the tantrums, the constant toilet breaks – and the children can be pretty bad too!
The reality is however, that travelling with your offspring is no laughing matter. If you’re not wrestling with car seats, fold up prams and multiple bags, being out of your comfort zone with children in a foreign and/or busy environment will earn you plenty of grey hairs.
All the more reason to take some time out for you and your partner alone while you still can – a short babymoon before the baby makes its arrival into the world.
“We went on a babymoon to St Lucia, three months before our son arrived and I would recommend it to anyone,” says Martin Hart from London. “At the time it seemed an extravagance, but it was definitely worth it.
“It’s the last real time that you have totally together and alone. You have time to luxuriate together in the innocence of pre-parenthood and can discuss what you need to do, potential names and so on, away from your everyday lives. We also deliberately picked an adult-only resort for things we knew we couldn’t do when we had children, such as daily massages, beauty treatments and yoga.”
Don’t worry if you have a budget closer to a break in Margate – the idea of a babymoon is still valid. It can be as expensive or as cheap, as simple or as busy as you want it to be.
When and where you go
While you can obviously take a babymoon whenever you want to, most prefer to do so in the second trimester. You might not be feeling up for going anywhere in those first months, while later in the pregnancy brings other restrictions either for you physically or due to flight restrictions – see ‘Flying when pregnant’, opposite.
Where you go is obviously up to you and your budget – what’s not to like about a white sandy beach in some exotic location? But more important is about you both being able to relax, switch off and be comfortable. It may sound obvious, but check the historic weather forecast before you book. Warm temperatures are great if you’re planning to stay by the beach, but not so good if you’re heading for a city with plenty of walking.
The right moves
Keeping active while away is no bad thing, especially swimming, but any location that offers pregnancy-friendly activities is ideal. Keep any exercise to within your normal routine though – now possibly isn’t the best time to be taking up rock-climbing!
Wherever you are, a little pampering at a spa for some ‘me’ time is no bad thing either. Always let any staff know that you’re pregnant if you’re having any treatments, especially massages, and ask if they have anyone trained in prenatal massage.
Make sure to let your masseuse know if you have any problem areas – back, hips, shoulders – related to your pregnancy, that they might be able to help with and also if you have any particularly sensitive areas. Some spas even have special massage beds with a section cut out for your bump.
Food for thought
A massage will probably build up a good appetite too, so make sure before you book a hotel that you check out the menus. Even if you’re cooking for yourself though, make sure you stock up on plenty of comfort food and easy nibbles and be sure to give both of you at least one or two nights away from the kitchen with a local restaurant.
Above all, rest, relaxation and a total lack of stress are key to a successful babymoon, so ensure you get somewhere with a king-sized bed and ask for extra pillows. Also, after the baby’s arrival, lie-ins are likely to be in short supply, so ask for a quiet room away from the lifts or children areas (if there are any) so that you don’t get woken too early. At the same time however, if it’s a larger resort, you don’t want to be too far from the main centre as you might not be up for much walking.
Lighten the load
Talking of walking, make sure you take a bag with wheels (or a strong partner!) as you won’t want to be carrying a heavy bag for long. The same goes if you rent your accommodation privately rather than go to a hotel – if it’s on the fourth floor with no lift, you might soon regret it!
Preparation is key
Lastly, be prepared. Whether you’re heading abroad or not, just do a quick check beforehand to find out where the nearest doctor or hospital is. Take your maternity notes with you, just in case, and make sure you’re covered for your travel insurance.
And key throughout is to enjoy yourself. Your lives are about to change forever, so you and your partner taking time out isn’t selfish, it’s just smart forward-planning.
Flying when pregnant
While normally it’s perfectly safe to fly by plane while pregnant, you should always double-check with your midwife or GP first.
Due to common feelings of tiredness and nausea, most women prefer not to travel in the initial 12-15 weeks of pregnancy, although this is obviously down to personal experiences.
Consider short haul destinations in preference to long haul flights and discuss with your midwife or doctor the use of compression stockings, to minimise the risk of a deep vein thrombosis while flying.
Understandably, most airlines will not allow you to fly after week 37 of your pregnancy – or week 32 if you’re having two or more babies – but before booking you should check the respective policies of your travel insurer and also the individual airline.
Once you get to week 28, most airlines will ask for a letter from your midwife or GP confirming your expected delivery date and also that you have a normal pregnancy and are in good health.
Once in the air, as ever it’s important to drink plenty of water and also to avoid sitting still for any length of time. Ask for an aisle seat when checking in too, for those inevitably frequent toilet breaks during the flight.
RCOG’s patient information leaflet, ‘Air travel and pregnancy’, provides advice on travelling by air during pregnancy. Go to https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/air-travel-pregnancy/