The concept of a babymoon has evolved in recent years to mean a vacation just before the arrival of a new baby. The principle driver is the recognition that mums and dads benefit from a little rest and relaxation before the onslaught of sleepless nights that a newborn almost inevitably brings. Not surprisingly, those in the travel industry are well aware of the popularity of babymoons and many resorts, hotels and cruises offer special babymoon packages. I was sold on the idea, and just before the birth of my second son, when I was 32 weeks pregnant my husband, bub one who was two at the time and I headed to a resort in the Whitsunday Islands for a five day vacation.
At that stage my husband was working as a doctor with the Royal Flying Doctor Service providing care to those living in remote Queensland communities. Bearing in mind the limitations to medical care that is often available in remote localities I called the resort prior to making my booking to query what medical services were available. I was assured that the resort had a fully functioning remote clinic staffed by a remote area nurse on call 24 hours a day. That was good enough for me, particularly as I was taking my own flying doctor.
The problems started at midnight of the third night when I was awoken by strong contractions. I delayed waking my husband for an hour until I was sure the contractions were regular. They were now coming every 5 minutes. The clinic nurse was pulled from her slumber and I was thankful to discover that she was a trained midwife. She quickly confirmed my suspicions, through palpating my belly that I was in at least threatened pre-term labor. My husband was pragmatic.
“No worries. I deal with this all the time on the Cape (York Peninsula). Lets just give her a calcium channel blocker (a type of medication usually used to lower blood pressure) to stop the contractions. Then we can organize transport off the island for her to see an obstetrician first thing in the morning.”
It was at this stage that my situation worsened. The nurse informed me that she had been surprised to find at the commencement of her post that the “clinic” was stocked with no medications at all. The resort had decided that any patient who may need any medication should be transferred off the island to see a doctor. This meant that as well as lacking the medications needed to stop my contractions, they also were lacking steroids that should be given to women in pre-term labor as a means of protecting baby’s lungs.
“All I have is a cord clamp.” She told me.
By now preparations to have me evacuated to a mainland hospital became urgent as my contractions quickened. I eventually left the island by helicopter at 5am and was finally given the necessary medication. My contractions did cease just as the helicopter that had evacuated me landed at Mackay hospital after two doses of the medication. I was relieved to be told by obstetric staff that there was no evidence the labor had progressed beyond contractions i.e. it was threatened rather than actual labor. There was a theoretical risk to my unborn baby that he would be compromised by the prolonged contractions however and clinical best practice suggested I should be admitted to hospital for at least 24 hours. Alas there were not beds available at the hospital and I was told that I should find my own accommodation in Mackay and present the next morning for further monitoring.
While thrilled that it seemed I was not about to deliver bub I now found myself in a perilous situation. Having found a motel, the medication that I had been given to cease the contractions lowered my blood pressure so drastically that I was unable to walk. I lay on the bed in the motel until late evening unable to even get a drink of water for myself. Befuddled by my low blood pressure I didn’t think to call reception at the motel to help me as I already felt like I had caused enough hassle for people already.
With now normal blood pressure, after being monitored at the hospital the next morning for a number of hours I was given the all clear and told I should now make my own way up back to Cairns, a full 800 kilometers north of Mackay. A phone call to my husband told me that bub one was traumatized by my overnight disappearance. He had been told that “baby had tried to crack the egg”, which made sense to him, but this was the first time we had been apart for more than a day and his composure was crumbling. Instead of catching a flight I hired a car and drove three hours north to Airlie Beach where I caught a ferry to Hamilton Island and flew home with bub one and my husband.
So why am I sharing this story? I guess because I want to caution women who may be considering a babymoon, to chose their destination wisely. The outcome of this situation may have been considerably worse for either bub 2 or myself. Despite my and my husband being health literate, the resort was dishonest in its portrayal as having medical clinic on the island. What it had was a trained nurse who could advise people whether they needed to evacuate or not, but no medication or equipment to manage even common medical problems. If I am fortunate enough to have another pregnancy I would not consider a vacation in my third trimester that is outside of one hour from a hospital capable of offering obstetric services. That means no resort islands, cruises or remote mainland locations, no matter how appealing the vacation sounds.
I would be interested in hearing from any readers that has had an obstetric emergencies occur on a babymoon. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org© Copyright 2012 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move