5 Babymoon Dos and Don’ts That Worked for Us

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We hadn’t intended to go on a babymoon. Our return visit to Maui had been planned looong before we discovered I was pregnant. The trip happened during pregnancy week 16, in a charming beachy villa, with many of our favorite people along for the adventure, so we cleared it with my ob-gyn, and I gleefully started shopping for tropical tunics that would accommodate what was beginning to look maybe possibly like a baby bump (at certain hours, after certain meals). My sweet husband had just recently begun a new job, I was anxiously awaiting big news regarding a major writing endeavor, and the Midwest had been repeatedly hit with blistery winds and below zero temps. In a nutshell, this trip needed to happen.

But between the time of deciding to go and actually going, some conflicting advice rolled in, as well as some scary anecdotes. There was the one where a woman went into preterm labor at 24 weeks, in Panama, with dangerously subpar medical care. Then another story about a woman who, at just 11 weeks pregnant, flew from New York to Paris and ended up with a massive blood clot lodged in her lungs.

Having experienced some car sickness during the first trimester, some people said to take something for the plane rides. (Some said definitely not.) Others reminded me to pack a lot of food to combat that queasy feeling that sneaks up on pregnant women with little notice. Most of all, I was told not do anything that I don’t usually do, i.e. no long, bumpy road trips along mountainous cliffs, no rigorous hiking, no diving, no parasailing, if snorkeling’s attempted, don’t commit to an entire day of it, yadda yadda. Little did the vacaay-crushers know, all I wanted was mornings with my small, sacred, single latte, afternoons on the beach with my books, and evenings with my dear ones, stuffing our faces with the island’s finest cuisine. (That seemed to raise zero eyebrows, so I exhaled a long, happy, “Alohaaaaaah.”)

Since our trip, I’ve weeded out what advice really does make sense, and filtered them into the dos and don’ts below. Follow these, and I think you’re in for a genuinely gorgeous babymoon, should you choose to take one.

Definitely DO:

1. Clear your travel location, plans, and activities with a trusted healthcare provider. One thing my ever-wise OB recommended was that you consider searching the nearest medical facility to ensure that should anything totally unexpected and entirely scary occur, you know that a good hospital isn’t far. Because Maui has a military base and Oprah (yes! The Goddess Herself!) lives there much of the year, we knew I would’ve been in competent hands. 

2. Pick somewhere that will be relaxing and allow you to return to your life refreshed. Pregnancy is not a time when you want to embark on one of those intense, see-the-world adventures. Even if the plan is as seemingly mild as “Let’s museum-hop-til-we-drop!” the point is: you don’t want to drop. You don’t have the luxury of “powering through” anymore.

3. Sip festive non-alcoholic drinks to make you feel like you’re still part of the party. Let’s be real. If you’re used to throwing some back, being 100 percent sober when everyone around you is not can be pretty miserable. Try to indulge the way you can. After all, everyone feels a little cheerier with an umbrella in their drink, even if it’s glorified fruit punch.

4. Get creative about what activities may be more pregnancy-friendly than others. Swimming is a must, hot tubs are a no. Long walk? Yes. Long hike? Likely no. Leisurely beach frisbee is more fun than a sweaty game of tennis, and if you pull a muscle playing frisbee, there might be something wrong with you. I was on a vacation once with a resort-wide ping pong tournament. That would’ve been perfect.

5. Pack pretty, breezy ensembles that will keep you comfortable. No matter where you escape off to, you will not want to spend any time squeezing into a cramped dressing room because you packed what fit just fine a week and a half ago. I’ve noticed fairly dramatic swings — week to week, meal to meal, morning to night. Pack accordingly.

Definitely DON’T:

1. Go too late in your pregnancy. All the truly terrifying horror stories — the ones that involve actually giving birth in a foreign country or hundreds of miles from a doctor you know and trust — take place in the third trimester. One such mom told me, “I shouldn’t have gone. I knew I shouldn’t of. I already felt like a ticking time bomb and somehow I was talked into ‘one last road trip with the girls’ when I had absolutely no business joining.”

2. Expect it to be your most romantic, carefree getaway. Or maybe it will be? But honestly, it likely won’t hold a candle to your honeymoon, and that’s okay — especially if you keep your expectations in check.    

3. Get talked into eating some kind of cuisine that seems unappetizing to you. While we’re advised to follow the “eat this, not that” guidelines of pregnancy, also follow your own intuition. If this one restaurant serves the world’s most amazing whatever, it doesn’t mean you must try a bite — not really. If it doesn’t sound/look/smell right to you, at that moment, trust your gut and steer clear.

4. Remain in the same position on a plane, train, or in a car for too long. Blood clots can be dangerous and the two best things my ob-gyn said will help prevent them is to stay hydrated and to move. Even if you’re tired, even if you don’t want to be a nag, exit your seat and walk up and down the aisle for a while, or ask the car’s driver to make extra pit stops. I know I annoyed the man seated next to me and a few of the flight attendants on board, but too bad. I got up every hour to hour and a half to walk and stretch. Half-asleep, hand on my belly, I did squats and small kicks and slowly twisted side to side. I likely looked like a weirdo. Whatever. I felt better and rested easier, and one darling elderly woman even joined me, sharing how she still does grand plies each morning.

5. Forget to take a camera, a journal, and some music. It will likely be a while before you jet off without a little one in tow. Enjoy the independence, and carve out a little sacred time to daydream about all of the staggering and remarkable ways your life will soon change. As a writer, this meant journaling. Maybe for you it’s a little morning meditation, or a quiet stroll, or simply listening to a few songs that allow your mind to wander and wonder. I remember our honeymoon inviting quiet thoughts that often began with, “I hope to be this kind of a partner, and hope to do these kinds of things….” and this unexpected babymoon prompted the same meaningful and swoony ruminations. After all, if pregnancy is about anything, it’s about hope, isn’t it? For your future family, this precious future little human, and the greater future you hope to help build.

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Photo: Abbey Cleland