A babymoon is a destination vacation during pregnancy — a final trip before birth for couples to indulge in some self-care and bonding before they become parents. After all, while the pleasures of parenthood are totally worth it, a newborn disrupts every aspect of life, making vacations a heck of a lot more complicated for everyone. And importantly, the babymoon isn’t just for mom – a dad’s life changes, too. But while babymoons are the last chance to bask in idleness before the obligations of parenthood, they are not entirely care-free. Taking a babymoon at the wrong stage of prenatal development has its own set of complications.
“There is an ideal window. You want to wait until after the first trimester because of morning sickness and the risk of miscarriage. Miscarriages are not due to travel, but are awful to have while traveling,” advises Dr. Sarah Kohl, a travel health specialist. “In the third trimester you are so tired and puffy it’s hard to enjoy travel. Also in the third trimester, you could go into premature labor. Many airlines have restrictions on travel after 36 weeks. Many require a note from a doctor if over 28 weeks pregnant. Cruises have restrictions too.”
So the second trimester seems like the best choice for a babymoon – mom feels good, morning sickness has passed, and energy levels are high. But even though travel during the second trimester is safer and more comfortable, parents need to consider that a medical condition could arise while traveling. Expectant parents should consult their healthcare provider when making plans, because specific pregnancies may have specific needs. Also, expectant parents need to practice the same concern for prenatal health on vacation as they do at home, and exercise the same precautions. Travel health insurance may also be a wise investment, although parents should check the fine print to make sure it covers pregnancy-related health problems.
Four Expert Babymoon Tips
- The second trimester is ideal – the morning sickness of the first trimester is passed, but the pregnancy hasn’t taken the toll it will take by the third.
- Locations can have their own health complications – Zika virus, malaria, and hepatitis are more prevalent in certain locales, and they are absolutely legitimate health concerns that should be avoided.
- Always consult a doctor – they can help assess the risk factors of certain destination vacations and help manage common concerns abroad while abroad.
- Chill is good – a quiet vacation near home can be just as good as a destination resort. It’s about couples spending time with each other, not taking great selfies in Bali.
That settles the question of ‘when’ to babymoon. The ‘where’ is a different matter. While there are a number of pregnancy concerns that are overblown, it isn’t a free-for-all. Certain infections that women can acquire overseas have serious health complications.
“It’s really important to avoid areas with Zika, like many tropical islands, such as in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and parts of Asia, India, and Africa,” warns Kohl. “Infection with Zika can cause severe and lasting birth defects. This can’t be stated strongly enough.”
Nor is Zika the only concern. Malaria is not much of a threat in the northern hemisphere anymore, but according to the CDC, it’s one of the most severe health problems worldwide. “It’s really important to avoid areas with malaria too since malaria is far more severe in pregnant women. Your provider can recommend effective mosquito bite avoidance,” says Kohl.
And infections such as hepatitis A and E could be a concern, depending on the destination. This can all seem scary, but it’s not that these things are going to happen; it’s just that they need to consider when making plans. Healthcare providers can help couples determine which destinations have greater risk factors. Nor does a babymoon have to be an exotic or lavish resort stay.
“It doesn’t need to be a big babymoon,” suggests Kohl. “Sometimes something as simple as a nice hotel in a nearby city is a lovely way to relax and enjoy each other before the birth of your child.”
A smaller, more chill vacation can have other benefits. Some women are at increased risk for blood clots in the legs. Mothers-to-be also need to stay hydrated and avoid overheating while traveling. No matter where the destination is, parents should make sure to just enjoy the slower pace, because that, too, is going to disappear when the baby arrives.
“It’s really important to slow down a little and not rush everywhere,” Kohl recommends. “Take time for naps. After all, you are growing a beautiful baby.”