One of the first things people say when you tell them that you’re expecting a baby is that you must immediately book your final exotic holiday before your life changes forever.
It’s overdramatic to suggest that having a baby means you’ll never have another exciting vacation in your life. However it is a good time for expectant parents to spend time together, stock up on some sleep, have someone else do the cooking and visit some sights that will be less practical to navigate with a baby buggy.
People have different ideas of what they’d like to do on their last child-free holiday with partner or best friend, depending on how anxious or adventurous they’re feeling.
Do you want to lounge on a faraway beach, have your last crazy adventure or splash out on a luxurious romantic break?
You could indulge in your favourite sport or rest somewhere low-key and reassuringly close to home.
There are some practical considerations, however. In the first trimester pregnant women can suffer from morning sickness, phenomenal tiredness and weird food cravings; and in the last trimester they not only feel huge, but they’re exhausted, too. So the ideal time to go is during the middle three months. Most airlines let you fly until 36 weeks, but will ask for a letter from your doctor after week 28.
You might fancy trekking in the middle of the jungle, but remember that pregnant women can’t take malaria pills and you might want to be somewhere near reasonable medical facilities. And even if the mother-to-be is no longer slave to her cravings, you don’t want to go anywhere where you might get food poisoning.
I took my first babymoon with my oldest friend, who lives in Washington, D.C. and was 27 weeks pregnant. She suggested an expedition to Peru until I asked how she’d feel if she went into labour at high altitude in the Andes, far away from her nice obstetrician.
My holiday choices were more restricted; pregnant by about 10 weeks, I could only face eating hamburgers or apples. This made Miami the ideal destination, with its mix of glamour, shopping, beaches, good weather, access to superlative medical care — thanks to its population of wealthy pensioners — and of course, top quality burgers.
In Miami we gave a nod to our Sex and the City days by shopping at American Apparel and sipping virgin cocktails on the rooftop bar of the trendy Gansevoort hotel.
Then we headed down the Florida Keys to the ultimate babymoon destination, Little Palm Island. An idyllic retreat on a tiny private island surrounded by the azure waters of the Caribbean, it offers fabulous food, a pool, activities from fishing to kayaking and snorkelling and a pampering spa with maternity massages on the menu that can form part of one of their babymoon packages; littlepalmisland.com.
The so-called babymoon is a big trend with upmarket hotels and there are plenty of indulgent packages you can book. Take a city break in Vienna and book the Luxury Before Birth package at The Ring Hotel, which includes two nights in a top room, massages for both parents, a limousine tour through Vienna and gifts; theringhotel.com.
In London there’s the Mum to Be package at the Metropolitan Hotel which includes a free tote bag and hydrating mist, pregnancy massage and breakfast; metropolitan.como.bz.
Alternatively, book a specialist Mama Mio treatment or sign up for a Relax & Indulge overnight stay at the gorgeous, wood-panelled Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, which involves a relaxing aromatherapy for daddy-to-be and a Mellow Mama massage for the expecting mother; roccofortecollection.com. For a romantic break in the English countryside, explore the breathtaking UNESCO-listed city of Bath, then relax at beautiful country house hotel Lucknam Park and enjoy one of the Anne Semonin mother-to-be face and body treatments in their new spa; lucknampark.co.uk.
If you’re looking for something more exotic, chill out with expert pregnancy spa treatments at boutique hotel Thalassa in Cyprus, thalassa.com.cy, or babymoon at Montpelier Plantation on the Caribbean island of Nevis, with candlelit dinners overlooking the island of St. Kitts, a romantic picnic on the hotel’s private beach, a tour of Nevis and massages for both of you; montpeliernevis.com.
If you’re on a budget, create your own babymoon and book a spa treatment independently. Massages are great for relaxing your mind and soothing your ever-stretching skin, but only if they’re tailored with products and techniques that are safe for your bump.
International beauty brand ESPA offers a blissfully relaxing pre-natal treatment using a calendula-infused oil, pink clay mud and various nourishing creams. Save on the expensive hotel room and treat yourself to this indulgence at one of their many spas worldwide, it will be worth the investment; espaonline.com. Alternatively, try one of the treatments conceived by Mama Mio, the beauty brand designed especially for mothers before and after birth (mamamio.com) or one of the new maternity treatments from Cowshed, which you can enjoy at spas or hotels in London, Somerset, Cornwall or Edinburgh; cowshedonline.com.