Are you used to packing your bags for last-minute trips whenever you feel like it? Concerned that parenthood will spell an end to those freedoms? Here’s our guide to planning that last jaunt as a couple before travel comes complete with buggies, nappies and grumpy infants.
When to go
The second trimester of pregnancy (or 13 to 28 weeks) should be the most comfortable - extreme sleepiness and morning sickness are behind you, your energy levels will be back to (almost) normal and you won’t yet be hampered by a gigantic belly.
The majority of airlines will let you fly up to and including the 36th week of pregnancy, or the 32nd week if you’re got more than one on the way. After you hit week 28, several carriers, including British Airways and Virgin ask that you present a doctor’s note confirming your due date and that you’re fit to fly.
Insurers will provide cover until the 28th to 36th week of your pregnancy, depending on the company, though this will be earlier if you’re having twins or more. Ensure you're covered for early birth and medical care should you be unlucky enough to go into labour away from home.
Most medics advise against having any new travel jabs while pregnant, and live vaccines, such as yellow fever, are particularly dicey. If you want to go somewhere that requires injections, consult your doctor well in advance.
Malaria should be a consideration when deciding on that final fling. The bad news is that mosquitoes find pregnant women particularly tasty, and expectant mothers are more at risk of contracting falciparum malaria (the most dangerous type). Chloroquine and Proguanil can be prescribed during pregnancy but don’t offer adequate protection against malaria in several regions, including sub-Saharan Africa. Doxycycline should be avoided.
Be liberal with the repellent (while avoiding anything containing more than 50% DEET) during the daytime if you’re worried about dengue fever, which is present throughout the tropics.
Flying during pregnancy can slightly increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, so wearing flight socks will help keep your circulation flowing.
A babymoon could be anything from a weekend minibreak to a multi-week extravaganza, depending on how adventurous you are. Plenty of hotels offer short breaks aimed at expectant parents - you could opt to spend a weekend indulging in couple's massages and gourmet dinners, or go the more wholesome route of prenatal classes and yoga. A week or two is probably best, though, if you want to unwind properly and enjoy each other’s company before the sleepless nights set in.
If it’s a healthy pregnancy, there’s no reason why you couldn’t go on an extended trip, but check out the healthcare situation in your chosen countries beforehand and see if you’ll be able to arrange antenatal check-ups or scans on the road. Pack lightly so you won’t have to carry a heavy backpack and include clothes you can expand into as the pregnancy progresses.
What to do
Go for something that won’t be as easy or fun once two becomes three, such as ramping up the romance in a honeymoon-worthy beach resort in the Maldives or the South Pacific, or staying somewhere unsuitable for babies and toddlers, say a jungle lodge with open-sided bungalows and raised walkways à la Morgan’s Rock in Nicaragua, or a resort built around cliffs, like the Rockhouse in Jamaica.
Many game lodges don’t accept toddlers and babies, but with a range of malaria-free reserves in South Africa, a safari isn’t out of the question during pregnancy. If you’re worried about bumpy drives, some reserves, including Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth, have tarred or good quality gravel roads.
If you were fit before getting pregnant then an action-packed break is fine if you feel up to it, although you may want to avoid activities where you could fall badly, such as snowboarding, horse riding, waterskiing, mountain biking or climbing. While snorkelling is OK, scuba diving is out because air bubbles can form in your bloodstream and transfer to your baby.
For sophisticated pleasures, try a short city break. Go out to smart restaurants, the theatre, galleries, clubs and other places where a screaming baby may not go down too well. And stay out late - before you know it you’ll have to be in early every night to put the little tyke to bed.