I have to apologise in advance for any element of this piece which inevitably comes across as a #middleclassproblem. Obviously the concept of a 'Babymoon' (for those who are unfamiliar, a last trip abroad for just you and your partner, to appreciate your time together ahead of the madness that is bringing up a young baby) is a pretty privileged one. Despite this however, there were lots of elements of this type of holiday that I hadn't really thought about, or expected, so I thought I'd write this piece to handover my few bits of advice on getting the most of your last hurrah, wherever it may be.
(1) If you're off somewhere hot, don't expect it to be quite as relaxing an experience as pre-pregnancy
Obviously when you're pregnant, you're not going to be lying on your stomach as part of your sunbathing experience. I hadn't really factored in the fact that by later in your pregnancy (most people tend to go on a Babymoon around 28-30 weeks, the last periods in which you're able to fly reasonably comfortably, and be signed off by your doctor in doing so), you can't really lie on your back either! Which makes for some pretty interesting sunbathing positions.
I found it was best to lie in a various assortment of contortionist sideways positions, and asked for additional towels to support my bump / head / knees accordingly. It's also best to take time out of the sun more frequently than you might do normally, so that your bump (and baby) doesn't overheat; and you're likely to find that you want your head to be in shade for a good portion of the time if you're hot. Cue a slightly imbalanced look of brown sides, belly and feet! But as I said, #middleclassproblems .....
(2) Be prepared for being a little 'blocked up'
Apologies for a little too much information here, but it's pretty relevant to talk about when you're pregnant. Whether you're someone who has experienced any form of digestive issues all of the way through your pregnancy or not (I've actually been lucky on this front, through a combination of daily green smoothies and a lot of yoga); you may find that the flight, and change in food and temperature may slow things down a little. Not fun in the heat, and in particular when you're in a bikini and potentially a bit more self-conscious about a massively distended belly!
I found that a combination of (1) consuming all of the foods known to man to help constipation - prunes, yoghurt, green veg...you name it, (2) walking for a little while ahead of retreating straight to your sunbed after meals and (3) drinking an absolute ton of water, helped in some way to alleviate the massive pains I felt in my ribs and stomach after any level of food. However, I had to really shift to small and often in terms of meals on this holiday, which made for shorter dinners in the evening, but fitted quite well with getting some early nights and rest, which was part of the whole aim of the trip anyway.
(3) Try to ignore any overt staring at your stomach, and embrace your pregnancy in a great bikini - don't hide it away!
I hadn't really thought through the fact that most of my days being pregnant had been subtly disguised through various fashion techniques that enhanced or hid altogether my emerging pregnant belly. I've never liked the tankini approach, and found that my favourite bikini's (Eres - expensive, but last forever, and really do support your boobs as they get bigger, without underwiring - the best tip I have ever received from French women) worked well for making me feel confident whilst exposed on holiday.
However, I was not prepared for the staring. And there was SO much of it. It happens for a multitude of reasons. Young mums and older women smile at you in a maternal way, clearly identifying with what you're going through. There are people who don't quite realise from the front that you're pregnant, and then can't quite hide their look of horror as they pass alongside you and realise that your stomach just keeps on going. We were in Oman for our holiday, and so when we went to local markets, despite me wearing a long dress, I was stared at by groups of women in Burkha's, because clearly my being so obviously pregnant was slightly at odds with how covered up they would have been in the same circumstances.
But the weirdest staring was from men 50+. The amount of overt staring at my stomach was breath taking. I don't know what the driver was - whether it was just a case of checking out a younger woman (I say this in by no means an arrogant way, just something that happens to women who are younger!), and then realising that they're pregnant, wanting to look away in embarrassment, but somehow being drawn to the belly like a moth to a flame...but oh my god, it was weird.....
(4) Stay healthy, but let yourself have the odd treat, it is a holiday after all!
Given the context of your insides slowing down, and the effects of hot weather in general (my morning sickness came back post breakfast every day for example, and I spent about 20 minutes in the shade breathing slowly, trying to compose myself), I personally wouldn't advocate throwing all your eating rules out of the window. I think ultimately whatever you've found works for you at home is worth trying to stick to, and helps everything tick over when you're away.
However, this is a holiday, and you do deserve a bit of a treat now and then. For me, that was a cheeky locally made ice-cream to wander with in the afternoons; and a glass of champagne with dinner in the evenings. Normally I have one or two drinks a week tops (if that), but for one week, I decided it wouldn't hurt, and it was lovely. But, at the same time, I exercised each day, which helped me feel lively and healthy throughout; and I stuck to my normal rules of healthy, fresh food. As a result, I felt like my normal self in a bikini for the most part, and came back healthy and rested (but feeling like I'd had a little splurge too).
(5) Think about your holiday wardrobe before you go - comfort and simple style being your main priorities
This is a big one. You want to feel like you look nice while you're away - everyone does when they're on holiday. You may be surprised at what you have in your wardrobe that may already work well for summer maternity fashion. Have a big try on and work out if you need to supplement with a few bits that will keep up your confidence while you're away.
My best new buy was a kaftan that I got from Seafolly (above) - I ended up buying it in two colours, and I literally lived in it day to day. It felt stylish, super comfortable, and you could whip it on and off (clothing changes becoming far more annoying when you're pregnant).
Beyond that, whilst I thought I'd have to buy a whole new summer wardrobe for pregnancy, I actually found I had some items that adapted easily in my own wardrobe. Check out my separate piece here on still feeling like you have some semblance of fashion sense on the beach when you have a massive belly here.
(6) Think beyond the normal beach holiday destinations, but make sure it's relaxing!
We went away in February, when the weather was dire in the UK, and we were therefore keen to ensure that we got some winter sun. However, in hindsight, if we had to book a Babymoon again, I wouldn't necessarily do the same. The important things are that you get time on your own together, and that you put some time aside to relax. I'm not always the best at that in normal life, so having opportunity to just take time out is really important.
If I was booking again, I'd consider locations like Iceland, holed up in a cosy location where you can get out and explore some beautiful countryside. We had a lovely time in Oman (check out more about going on holiday there here), but for all of the aforementioned reasons about feeling pretty uncomfortable in the heat, I'd consider a wider choice of holidays.
(7) Above all, make the time to re-connect as a couple, and talk about anything that's on your mind about all of the impending change
It's natural that during pregnancy (particularly your first), that both of you have lots of questions on your mind about what your life will be like when the little sprog arrives. But when you're in the midst of your day-to-day existence, a lot of these concerns can get shelved. While you're away, I think it's really important to remember all of the reasons why you're together in the first place, but also to air any concerns you have, talk about them (even if it's difficult) and feel like you're both on the same page about what's coming.
In our case, we had a night on holiday that in hindsight wasn't the most enjoyable, but I talked about a lot of things about our future plans that were important to me, and that the baby had made me focus on in a different way; and whilst there were a few tears, it really cleared the decks. I woke up like a new woman. I highly recommend doing the same.
So, that's it - none of it's rocket science, and for us we didn't really feel like it was going to be our last holiday in any way, shape, or form - we fully intend to still go to adventurous places, and further all of our travel interests, just with a little one in tow, and with a few changes logistically. But I do think it's important to think about getting the best out of it, so I hope this is useful! Let me know if you have any tips from your own experiences.