Early last week I was browsing Twitter and Facebook and was lucky enough to spot that the Tots100 team were looking for a pregnant blogger to review a spa break that weekend on the Isle of Wight. Although I hadn’t announced my pregnancy to the world, I secretly emailed them and they put me in touch with Nikki Khan (expert midwife for Prima Baby magazine, Huggies, Infacol and Sudocrem!) who was running the break. Within minutes I’d begged my mother in law to babysit for the weekend and had asked West Bay Club to book my ferry.
I had just enough time to announce my pregnancy after my scan at 13 weeks on the Thursday, before rushing away on the Friday for three nights of toddler-free bliss!
As we live close to Portsmouth, getting the ferry over was a breeze and we made it door to door in about two and a half hours. You can get the car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and drive across the island to Yarmouth, or you can go from Lymington to Yarmouth direct. When we drove into the gated complex of West Bay Club we were impressed by the pretty rows of New England style cottages surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns.
It was like a very luxurious holiday camp (but a looong way from Butlins). The cottage we’d been given had two bedrooms and an open plan living room, kitchen and dining area.
There were windows everywhere making daylight flood in and fittings were high spec. I was very impressed they had the tiny details just right – every spoon and wine glass matched and the cottage had a pint of milk, tea, coffee and sugar waiting for us. The heating was cranked up too which was bliss as when we arrived it was a dull and chilly day.
Take a look at the fantastic reviews the resort has on Trip Advisor – and look out for my review which I’ll be adding shortly under my Trip Advisor screen name Kazlba.
The first evening we met up with the other couples over dinner in the on-site bistro. It wasn’t long before we were all sharing stories about our pregnancies and the conversation flowed so easily. Husband and I had secretly been a bit worried about having to eat at a big table with everyone, but we needn’t have been. In fact, if we hadn’t eaten together the course wouldn’t have worked – we all chatted so much over the delicious food that by the next morning when we met for breakfast we felt like old friends.
The weekend had a busy itinerary that involved talks with Nikki, a physio session with Jo, a yoga session with Jenny and some time built in for spa treatments. Looking at it on paper it sounded like Saturday would be a long day and I was worried how we’d stay awake for a 3.5 hour talk about ‘The 40 week journey’. As soon as we arrived in the cosy cottage where the sessions were to take place – taking our seats on beanbags and sofas – we all relaxed and opened up. It felt like we knew each other already, and as there were only four couples it was the perfect size of group for open conversation. The morning session flew by. It wasn’t a serious structured talk – it was an informal chat with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get personal advice about our own situations. I had expected it to be a course geared up for people expecting their first child, but actually each course is bespoke depending on who is attending as Nikki will cover anything you want to know. I feel like I got as much (if not more) out of it because I’d had a challenging birth last time around. Nikki talked about my previous complications (I had pre-eclampsia, obstetric cholestasis and a massive post partum haemorrhage, topped off with an asthma attack and my body going into shock!) and gave me tips and advice to help avoid (as much as it’s possible) some of those problems this time around. She also offered to email me a list of things I could talk to my midwife, consultant and GP about to make sure I was being given the right care after the problems last time.
As the group was so small, it was easy to address everyone’s individual concerns and questions, and the time just flew by. The chats covered everything from feeling movements to birth plans, from good sources of snacks to supplements and ankle exercises to help prevent excess swelling. As I was only just coming up to 14 weeks I was able to absorb so much information that I can now put into practice through the rest of my pregnancy.
Even Husband was amazed to find he was enjoying himself, and he asked some questions and took part in the chats which is something he wouldn’t normally do. After a quick lunch, and another talk with Nikki that covered things like what can trigger premature labour, it was time for a well-earned spa break.
The West Bay Club’s main building is where you find the swimming pool, bistro, games room and gym. The spa is tucked away behind a door and once you walk through you feel like you’ve been transported to a real day spa. I sat in the scented waiting room getting excited about having their prenatal spa treatment. I was able to test the products first and pick which scents I liked, then it was time to lay down and enjoy being pampered. As my bump wasn’t too big I was able to lay on my side sitting up slightly for the back massage, which was wonderful. The body scrub and oils smelt amazing and at 85 minutes it was a perfect length of time. I even dozed off at one point and woke up with a jolt, convinced that I’d started snoring! I floated back to our cottage for a quick change of clothes before meeting everyone for dinner. We all had equally dreamy expressions on our faces as all of the ladies had been treated to the prenatal treatment as part of the package.
After another delicious dinner, we all reluctantly broke up the conversation and headed back to our beds at 10pm as we were exhausted.
Sunday morning after breakfast the men had some time off while we did a physio session with Jo Hellier. Husband loved having the chance to lay and read his book and go for a swim.
I sat on a birthing ball for the first time and am now going to buy one as I loved doing the physio exercises on it. I found that I’m not very elegant but I didn’t care as I enjoyed it! We also talked a lot about the importance of the pelvic floor muscle and I’m now determined to make sure I keep up those exercises for the rest of my pregnancy (another reason why attending at the start of your second trimester is a good thing!) We crammed in another quick talk with Nikki after our husbands returned, which included tips to help the men feel prepared (like work out alternate routes to the hospital, make sure the petrol tank is always full and have lots of loose change for vending machines), before we headed off for Sunday lunch in the bistro. It was bad timing for me as I had to lay down straight after it for a facial, but I didn’t complain too much. With every booking, the client receives a £50 spa voucher to use on any treatment, so as my face (which is usually spot free) breaks out during pregnancy I thought a facial was a good choice. I had their skin brightening facial as it said it was supposed to brighten your complexion after illness and stress and I’ve certainly had my fair share of morning sickness this time around!
Glowing, I left and went to the studio for the yoga session with Jenny. I’d never tried yoga before and proved yet again that I’m inelegant and not very flexible but it was very relaxing. The only shame is there aren’t any pregnancy yoga sessions near me so it’s not something I can keep up. Jo who did the physio session kindly offered to do some research and email us with a list of dvd suggestions that she felt would be safe for beginners to tackle at home, so I’m looking to hearing back from her about that as it’s definitely something I’d like to do again.
After the yoga session we managed to sneak in an extra chat with Nikki and a couple of the other mums just to round everything up and ask some final questions. It finished off the weekend perfectly and we left after giving Nikki a big hug and promising to keep in touch. She really is the perfect person to run this course and we left feeling like we’d made a new friend who we all knew we could call on through the rest of our pregnancy.
By this time it was after 6pm and I was starving again (despite all of the food we’d been eating) so we drove the few minutes into Yarmouth and settled on the Bugle Inn for dinner. I’d chosen two other restaurants that were highly recommended on Trip Advisor (Forresters and On the Rocks), but unfortunately both were closed on Sundays as it was off-season. The home-cooked food at the Bugle was filling and tasty (Husband had the biggest slab of steak pie I’ve ever seen and I broke my gall bladder diet rules, but I didn’t care as my lasagne was gorgeous), then we headed back to West Bay exhausted and full up after a fantastic weekend.
Monday morning we said goodbye to the couples who were leaving early, and then we sat and enjoyed our final breakfast before reluctantly packing up the car to go home.
Over the weekend I learnt an incredible amount. I missed out on a regular birth last time as I had a planned C-section due to complications, and I didn’t attend NCT classes as they were already full when I tried to book around 14 weeks. I’m amazed to say that this weekend has eased my fears and I’m now feeling confident about the birth. I’ve picked up lots of practical tips (like take two bags to hospital; one for me and one for the baby to make it easier to find things, wear flight socks to avoid swelling in the legs and feet….and far to many more to mention) and the weekend has left me feeling reassured and focussed. I wish everybody expecting a baby (whether it be first, second or third time around) could come along and meet Nikki. She’s a very inspiring lady and is so engaging. I could have happily spent a week with her. I’m just not sure my mother in law could have stood it, as I suspect three days with two toddlers and a puppy drove her slightly insane.
So thanks to Nikki, Jo, Jenny, the spa ladies and the staff at West Bay Club who were all incredibly welcoming and helpful. And thanks to the other couples who joined me on our pregnancy spa journey. Between you all you made it a weekend I will always remember. And I’ve found a new family friendly self catering holiday venue close to home that I know the boys (and the new baby) will love!
I’m now working my way through the fantastic ‘My Pregnancy’ book, edited by Dr Virgina Beckett (which includes tips from Nikki), that we were given, along with all of the handouts and booklets. I know the nappies and creams in the goodie bag will come in very handy a few months from now!
Nikki Khan’s luxury three night antenatal spa weekends cost from £270 per couple per night and includes ferry crossing, luxury self catering cottage, breakfast and dinner, a prenatal spa treatment and £50 to spend in the spa, along with full use of the sports and leisure facilities on site. You can find out full details on Nikki Khan’s website.
For the purpose of this review I was provided with a complimentary weekend break. All opinions are my own.