By Belinda Lichty Clarke
The term “babymoon” used to refer to the “period of time for parents to spend alone with their new child soon after the child’s birth,” according to Merriam-Webster. In recent years, however, it has taken on a new, wanderlust-inspiring definition: “A trip or destination taken by a couple shortly before the birth of a child.”
Babymoons are a rising trend, with a growing number of dedicated blogs and maternity wear sites featuring recommendations for the perfect vacation ensemble. But the opportunity for retail therapy is just a bonus. Most importantly, a stress-relieving and carefree trip to a unique locale offers an ideal way for couples to relax and bond before baby.
Julia Dennison, digital director for parents.com, fitpregnancy.com and parenting.com, says that parents-to-be should definitely seize the opportunity to get away, whether it’s a weeklong beach vacation or just a weekend trip. “In the busy world we live in, we don’t often have very many opportunities to escape and unwind—a babymoon is a great opportunity to take a break before life gets even busier,” Dennison says. “The journey to parenthood can be stressful—from trying to conceive to all the ups and downs of pregnancy—a babymoon is a wonderful moment to reconnect and recharge as a couple.”
In addition to the opportunity to bond, Cheryl Leung, editor of the Kids On A Plane blog, says that couples should consider babymooning because it’s likely the last chance for easy travel. “It’s probably the last time when you’ll be able to pack and go within a matter of minutes,” Leung says. “Once [the] baby comes, planning a trip means thinking about car seats, diaper bags and working around a nap and feeding schedule, or looking for a babysitter … if you’re planning to travel without kids.”
Leung also notes that during the trip, couples are free to do as much or as little as they want. This freedom can be a tonic for those who need a break from preparing for their little one’s arrival. “Want to sleep all day or go to the market in search for the perfect tchotchke to bring home? Go ahead—no one’s stopping you,” she says. “Babymoons are the perfect time to do what you want, when you want. You don’t have to worry about your endless ‘before baby arrives’ to-do list.”
Elisa All Schmitz, founder of iParenting Media (now part of Disney Interactive Media Group) and 30secondmom.com, expands on the practical appeal: “You likely won’t have time for luxuries like a massage, a mani-pedi or a full-blown vacation for quite a while,” she says. “Go away (or take a staycation near home) and let the pros work out the kinks in your neck, take a yoga class, do some journaling and just get some rest. Sleep may be elusive in those first days, weeks and months [after your baby’s arrival], so stock up now.”
Taking the Trip
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the best time for expecting mothers to travel is during the second trimester, between weeks 14 and 28, when pregnancy-related emergencies are least likely. For air travel, ACOG suggests aisle seats for optimal leg stretching. The organization also offers a reminder about the importance of always wearing a seat belt; on a plane, it should be belted low on the hip bones, below the belly.
An OB-GYN with NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois, Dr. Ann Borders says that babymooning moms should discuss all travel and activity plans with a prenatal provider before traveling.
“Exercise and staying active benefits pregnant women and is recommended, but moderation and knowing your baseline prior to pregnancy is the key,” Borders explains. “Avoid overheating, dehydration, prolonged rapid heart rate, risk of fall and any activity that leads to cramping, contractions or not feeling well.”
With safety in mind, there are numerous opportunities for pregnant travelers and their companions to have new and exciting experiences. Dennison says that she’s noticing mothers-to-be being much more active on their vacations than they might have been in the past.
“In terms of activities, spa pampering is very popular—we’re seeing more hotels offering spa packages for mamas-to-be—but so are adventure activities,” she says. “We are even seeing pregnant women doing things like stand-up paddleboarding. With your doctor’s approval, there’s not much you can’t do on vacation, and the new generation of pregnant women are well aware of that.”
At Sea Island, parents-to-be can enjoy everything from relaxing spa treatments to outdoor adventures.
“I think what makes Sea Island unique is the variety of activities that is offered,” says Victoria Joiner, spa guest relations and retail manager at Sea Island. “It is possible to do something different every day, and whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a weeklong extravaganza, there is so much to discover.”
Joiner suggests cooking classes, nature boat cruises along the marsh or just spending quality downtime by one of the pools as a few of the fun options for babymooners.
“With every couple being different, we have activities that cater to all different preferences,” Joiner says. “Water activities are in abundance, from kayak trips to Hobie cat tours. If you love water, you won’t be disappointed with all the options.”
For those looking to unwind, The Spa at Sea Island and Fitness Center offers a variety of personalized experiences. “From prenatal massages, to custom facials to Mind, Body, Stretch classes, the spa and fitness center is a truly magical place to find your Zen and reflect on some quiet time,” she says.
The spa’s Mama Mia massage is specifically designed for expectant mothers who are past their first trimester. During the treatment, the mother can recline comfortably with the help of special pregnancy contour pillows. Joiner adds that the spa has partnered with Savannah, Georgia-based Sapelo Skin Care to create a line of beauty products that are safe for use by pregnant and nursing mothers. The Sapelo Milk & Honey Facial infuses the skin with milk peptides, while Southern honey gently clarifies and hydrates. “What better way to celebrate a new baby than by getting a little pampering for the person holding it all together?” Joiner asks. To make the experience even more special, the spa team recommends a couple’s massage in one of the dedicated couple’s treatment rooms.
However you decide to spend your babymooning days, remember to document the experience—one day, your little one may be curious about his or her first trip. Schmitz suggests writing a letter, email or social media post to your baby about how excited you are, or take some photos or video to record what you look like, record how you’re feeling and what your hopes and dreams for your family are.
“Some parents-to-be use a traditional scrapbook or even start their own blog,” Schmitz says. “There’s no pressure to do that, but this is a time to reflect and capture your feelings about becoming parents, however you choose to do so.”
Elizabeth Killgallon, Sea Island’s associate director of catering, says that the resort’s culinary team loves babymooning couples because they get to customize their dining experience. After all, she says, Sea Island guests enjoying their babymoon often have some unique and interesting preferences and/or dietary restrictions, and the team is more than happy to accommodate.
“From a yummy pasta dish at Tavola to a Gold Brick Sundae at Wonderland, you’ll find our babymoon couples treating themselves to all of the delectable fare around the property to celebrate one last hoorah before the baby arrives,” Killgallon says. “We love every chance to pamper our guests and make them feel like they are part of our family, so taking extra good care of them before the little one arrives is a top priority. Craving pickles? Let us create a fried pickle BLT for you. Hungering for something sweet and fruity? Let our chefs treat you to a trio of gourmet sorbets in the Georgian Room.”