Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Worried Pregnant Tourist in Barbados

I wasn’t sure what to expect from my most recent trip to Barbados. We’d selected it as our destination because we used to live there, and figured it would be both relaxing, and handy to have existing relationships with doctors, should I need one.

My midwife gave me a complete copy of all of my medical records since I started seeing her practice, to bring my OBGYN in Barbados up to date, should I need to see her. I bought travelers’ medical insurance for the first time in my life, though after paying for it, I read the longish list of exclusions and found that maternity care and childbirth are excluded. Rats.

I worried about staying regular and whether I’d be able to find prune juice at the grocery store there, so I bought some bags of dried prunes and apricots to be on the safe side.

A colleague got me worried about sunburn, saying pregnant ladies are more susceptible to sunburn than normal, so I bought some children’s SPF 50 sun block – opted for the children’s type, hoping it would have fewer weird chemicals. This is in addition to the lovely natural sun block product I’d purchased at Lush, which they say is approximately SPF 15.

I remembered our hotel room from last year where we were on the third floor with no elevator, and figured that would be hopeless, or rather, I would be hopeless trying to climb two flights of stairs right now. I called the hotel a month before we arrived and requested a room on the ground or second floor.

I have read that mosquitoes are particularly drawn to pregnant ladies, so I worried about contracting dengue fever again (you can get it up to four times) and considered buying insect repellent, but didn’t find any citronella based products before I left. I don’t use DEET based stuff under normal circumstances, and really don’t want to while pregnant.

In the last days before departure and the first few days of the trip, I got myself completely worked up and convinced that I was going to go into labour while in Barbados. Happily, that turned out to be wrong and I’m still quite pregnant.

Here are my lessons learned for traveling to the Caribbean while pregnant:
  • It doesn’t matter how much your traveling companion loves to have the window seat, you really need to get an aisle seat. This is not just for you to be able to get up and down to the bathroom frequently, but also for some shoulder and arm rest space: on one of the longer flights, I was stuck between my husband and a larger guy. I thought my back was going to go into spasm, I was so uncomfortable.
  • They sell prune juice in the large grocery stores, just not the little touristy ones.
  • The guy selling papayas out of the back of a van is also your friend: ask him for a large, very ripe one and make a basic little fruit salad with lime and brown sugar in the hotel. It will keep for days in the fridge and help with the digestion.
  • Mosquitoes still prefer my husband (poor guy!) to me. I don’t think I got bitten once.
  • The SPF 50 was pretty effective, but so was the stuff from Lush. I wore a hat and stayed out of the sun from 11 am to 3 pm and only got a bit singed – mostly got brown. Someone to whom I’m married doesn’t think he needs sun block or a hat, and he’s peeling now. And a lot browner than me.
  • People are nice to pregnant ladies everywhere I go. Except those that aren’t, but they’re outnumbered. I got the best customer service I have ever received in Barbados on this trip. Even the cashiers at Big B’s grocery store were sweet to me, and that’s a minor miracle.
  • Gobsmacked is kind of a wacky thing to say when explaining your reaction to hearing that someone is pregnant, but in a funny, irreverent way that I like.
So that’s what I learned on vacation in Barbados. I spent loads of time listening to the Hypnobabies recordings... or in some deep state of hypnosis where I snored, and listened to them at any rate... We had a lovely time, visited with many old friends, enjoyed perfect weather and hope to be back again soon!

UPDATE: forgot to link to the photos on Flickr. All better now.


SuSuseriffic said...

sounds fun....great time to travel!

Ryan said...

You look great!!! Tell Alex and Kickypants I say "Que tal?"

CaroLyn said...

Hi there SuSuseriffic, thanks for stopping by! You're right - it was a great time to travel, though if I didn't have school interfering with my schedule, I would have tried to make it a little earlier. My energy level leaves a bit to be desired these days... :)

Hey Ryan - Alex says que hubo? and kickypants says thumpity thump.