Traveling to the tropics soon with a baby on the way? Congratulations! Baby Manua is turning one in two months, and it seems ages ago when I was in Bali with him in my belly. I was so lucky to have an incredible pregnancy and felt amazing for 9 months (minus the pregnancy diabetes and not being able to give in to my sugar cravings, eek!). Since I've been showing off my bump on Instagram we received a lot of questions about traveling to Bali while pregnant or with the wish to be pregnant in the near future. Is it safe? What is Zika? Can I avoid Bali Belly? Have massages?
We can imagine, lots to worry about and you might be in doubt to go or not to go. So we've answered the 8 most asked questions below! Note that we do need to say also discuss with your midwife or doctor, they will have all the good medical advice for you.
1. Do I need to worry about the Zika virus in Bali?
Ok, let's kick off with the number one burning question and also probably thé topic on whether to go to Bali or not: Zika. I found out I was pregnant while I was in Bali and pretty much spend on and off 5 out of the 9 months with my bump on the island. It wasn't until I knew I was expecting when I started researching about Zika and it's risks.
Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus affects an unborn (or potential) baby and unfortunately, there is no medical treatment or medicine yet. That means that women who are pregnant or intending to become pregnant are at risk where Zika is present. Zika can also be passed via a sexual partner, so partners should take the same precautions to avoid getting bitten. There is a website where you can see which countries had recent outbreaks.
If you start researching about it you'll be like, ok, no go! But my personal reality was seeing all my pregnant friends happy and healthy in Bali and lots of beautiful strong Balinese women with baby bumps. So, for me, it sure wasn't something to keep me away from my island home. But I must say, I am not a big worrier and I did take precautions and was extra careful. So it's really something you can only decide on personally (and with the advice of your doctor). Here's some things to do if you do decide to go while pregnant like me:
- Use lots and lots of insect repellent. After each shower, swim, before going to bed, during the day... really use it ALL DAY LONG. Make sure to use the one without DEET if you're already pregnant. I used the CarePlus anti-insect natural spray from The Netherlands and when I ran out of stock I used the locally produced Utama Spice begone bug spray.
- Zika carrying mosquitoes are more active in the morning so if you're having breakfast in an open area, you can, for instance, sit nearby a fan and most places usually burn insect repellant incense. Somehow mosquitos love to bite you under the table (right?!), so you can also consider wearing long pants at this time of the day or bring a nice sarong to drape over your legs.
- Choose your accommodations wisely. Make sure they have a mosquito net and air-conditioning (or fans). And try to keep doors and windows of your bedroom closed as much as possible to avoid them from coming in.
- Mosquitoes love stagnant water. So take preventative care in wetlands, rice paddies, and anywhere where there is stagnate water.
- Bali mosquitoes are usually more active during rainy season (October to March) but nonetheless, you do need to be aware all year round.
2. How to avoid Bali Belly?
The last thing you want is to get Bali Belly with baby in the belly. Although this food poisoning that is very common to happen in Bali can not harm the baby if you get sick, it sure isn't pleasant. Although you can't get the guarantee of not getting sick, there are a few things you can pay attention to (and which I did too):
- Wash your hands all the time! Or bring dettol wipes to clean your hands while on the road. Especially after shaking hands, touching money, menu's at restaurants, Bali doggies, etc.
- Avoid salads and raw food. Although Bali is a Walhalla for raw food and it's not fun to miss out on, raw food is a risk. They are usually rinsed with water and because it's not cooked bacterias have easy access. Choose cooked, baked, grilled or fried (ok, not healthy this last one but yummy) food as much as possible.
- Avoid meat and fish. Being vegetarian it's an easy one for me, but if you like to eat meat and fish consider skipping it this time in Bali. It can be spoiled or contaminated with bacteria and parasites.
- Some travellers are afraid of ordering water or drinks with ice cubes. We personally never got sick by that so we wouldn't worry too much about that. And if you are at a place where you think 'hmmmm not sure', just order a fresh coconut. Nothing can go wrong with that!
Check with your doctor before traveling to Bali what their tips are if you get Bali belly after all.
3. Can I take massages?
This question I got asked a lot and must say it was one of mine too when I got pregnant. Cause we just love love love massages and when you're traveling to Bali you're probably craving them too. In the first trimester of your pregnancy (up to week 12) salons and spas will not massage you, and some medical research online will tell you indeed to avoid massages at this stage of pregnancy. After that, it's ok but do always inform your massage therapist that you're pregnant so he or she can be extra careful and avoid massages around the belly. Or just go for a special mom-to-be massage if they have it on the menu! (The one at Prana spa in Seminyak is amazing). Reflexology, on the other hand, is not recommended during pregnancy or the therapist must be very experienced and know which areas not to massage.
4. How to get around with the bump?
Up to you how big your bump is and how you're feeling. I drove the motorbike up to 30 weeks (when possible on the back of the bike with my husband Stephen cause I didn't feel like driving the busy traffic) and after that most of the time, I took the car (driver or taxi). Not only because of the bump but because I wanted to be in the airconditioning haha. I did became very aware of all the exhaust fumes and started wearing a mouth cap while driving the motorbike!
5. Is too much Bali sun dangerous?
The only thing we know is to be aware of not overheating and direct sunlight can give skin pigment. Make sure to drink lots and lots of water all day, because in Bali you usually sweat lots and with that extra pregnancy hormone even more (yup, take a sarong with you everywhere!). Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up all day (you can simply ask at a restaurant or hotel for the water tank with filtered water). I got into some overheating situations a few times when we were shooting photos in the middle of the day in the burning sun, and I can tell you: not a good idea :)
6. How is health care in Bali?
There are good medical clinics in each neighbourhood and some good hospitals like Siloam. If you're afraid of going into labor early (we had some DM's about this anxiety), remember there are many children being born in Bali in the hospital (even expats have their babies in Bali) so it is not something to worry about.
7. Do I need travel insurance?
Yes! You need to check your travel insurance as some have restrictions until when you can fly, and till when you are covered while traveling.
8. So, is traveling to Bali while pregnant recommended?
Medically, please let your midwife or doctor give you this answer :) I can only share my personal experience with you, and I absolutely loved being in Bali while pregnant of baby Manua and wouldn't want it any other way. I mean, it's easy to feel no stress, relax a lot by the pool or on the beach, have (mom-to-be) massages, eat healthy food (and not having to do groceries and cook yourself!) and do lots of yoga or other workouts or beach walks. I think mainly because I had such a stress free pregnancy I felt so blissful for the whole 9 months and Manua is a very happy baby!
And especially if you're expecting your first baby it'll be a perfect babymoon, just having an amazing time solo or together and relax as much as possible before the baby comes and you'll be a team of three. Nothing better to be well-rested for this incredible journey ahead!
Ps. also find someone to do a photoshoot for you with baby bump! Great memories for later.
We hope this info for traveling to Bali while pregnant was helpful for you. I added some photos with my bump below (saved my fave for last and check our baby news announcement that we shot on Le Pirate Island in Flores!), will you show us yours? :) Tag @welikebali in your photos on Instagram so we can see them!
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