I never used to fully relax on vacations. To me, the more adventure-packed the trip, the better. I was the girl first off the boat to swim with whale sharks in the Gulf and could be found at the front of the line in flying trapeze class. Downtime was rarely part of my travel agenda—until I got pregnant, that is.
While I was thrilled with the news, fatigue hit me in full swing by my eighth week, and some days it was a challenge just to peel the pajamas off my body and shower. I was overwhelmed with deadlines, the dull throb of headaches, the sudden pangs of nausea. When the topic of a babymoon came up—a final hurrah for the two of us, celebrating the upcoming arrival of our child —all I wanted was some downtime.
Planning for paradise
My husband and I agreed that we needed a break from Manhattan. We’d take a babymoon during the second trimester to slow down and enjoy the miracle of pregnancy. We craved a scenic locale where we could reconnect over a shared experience and have long, romantic conversations about the future of our family—somewhere special.
After talking with my doctor, we planned a trip to St. Lucia, where there are mountains and rainforests and black sand beaches. I didn’t know anyone who’d been there before, but if I could sleep in past breakfast and use frequent flier miles, it was already a win.
Mom of four Renda Kiper of Stafford, Virginia, recalls booking their babymoon to St. Thomas: “The very process of deciding where to go and what to do required us to improve our communication and be vulnerable to discuss what we each needed in the relationship.” As a couple, they wanted to hang out in a beautiful, intimate space and not break the bank, so they rented a condo from a private owner.
For Jamie Chaft, a first-time mom living in New York City, it was essential to have a balance of exploration, hiking and relaxation on Hawaii’s big island. “Another priority was going somewhere new to us that had clean water and food and modern medicine readily available,” she says.
The best babymoon is the one that’s right for you and your family. Calculate a budget, identify your needs, and carve out some relaxation time. Whether it means a day trip to the shore, a weekend at a bed and breakfast, or a five-day getaway in the mountains, treat yourself to a restful break before baby’s birthday.
Traveling while expecting
Get your doctor’s approval before booking a babymoon, and carry a medical advisory note (have it translated, if need be) as well. “Traveling during pregnancy is fine as long as there are no complications or risk of preterm labor … but only up until 32 weeks,” advises Ketly Michel, MD, FACOG, solo practitioner in the Upper East Side of New York City. Also keep in mind that many cruise lines restrict pregnant passengers after 24 weeks.
If possible, minimize your travel time. We scheduled a layover in Puerto Rico so we could explore a bit, stretch our legs, and grab a fulfilling dinner. I preselected an aisle seat on our flights and frequently walked the length of the plane. Snacking on trail mix and drinking plenty of water helped me feel my best during the trip.
Michel recommends that pregnant women flying to a destination wear anti-embolism (compression) stockings to help prevent blood clots. “They should be worn during the entire fight,” she advises. “On the plane, make sure you get up at least every two hours to walk. Once you land, you can remove the compression stockings and be free.” High risk patients with a prior history of blood clots should talk with their doctor about blood thinners.
Call your health insurance company, learn what’s covered internationally, research hospitals near your hotel, and purchase travel insurance. Carry emergency contact information, and add an international plan to your mobile phone. And get the scoop on the dos and don’ts of gastronomy abroad—I was advised to steer clear of food stands and drink bottled water over tap whenever possible.
Without the self-made pressure of packing our vacation with nonstop adventure, a babymoon helped me rest, live in the moment, savor my pregnancy experience, bond with my husband, and simply unwind. My uncomfortable symptoms had alleviated by my 20th week along, and I felt better than I thought possible. On our weeklong babymoon, we read books under a palm-thatched hut, enjoyed extended naps, and strolled the beach. I spent my free time writing letters to my baby in a journal instead of worrying about work deadlines and daily drama. While I couldn’t go zip-lining through the rainforest, I could take an aerial tram tour of the canopy. Scuba diving wasn’t an option, but I had the green light on snorkeling, and we loved leisurely exploring Anse Chastanet’s coral reefs. We dined and drank mocktails and really had fun together. It was exactly what we needed.
Other babymoon-friendly activities include prenatal massage, prenatal yoga and swimming. Chat with your doctor before departure about what activities you should avoid. Says Kiper of their babymoon to St. Thomas: “We had a good time enjoying the outdoors and visiting the local area. I loved the natural beauty of the ocean, the waves, the sky and the mountains.There was nothing that could have made it more perfect.”
Babymoons are also an opportunity for a pregnancy photo session. While visiting Playa del Carmen, Fatima DeCorte and her husband, of Watchung, New Jersey, made a creative pregnancy announcement. They inscribed “1 + 1 = 3” in the sand, snapped a photograph, and shared it with friends and family.
Do I still want to climb the Matterhorn and motor through the Amazon? Sure. Adrenaline-charged exploration travel remains a passion of mine. But our babymoon was a meaningful trip that I’ll never forget, something in a category all its own —a special time to rest, tune into the miracle of our growing baby, and reconnect as a couple before the most rewarding adventure of our lives began.