Parents are often so caught up in the flurry of sharing their new baby with family and friends that they neglect to have a “babymoon.” Now, we’re not talking about a last hurrah for parents-to-be prior to baby’s arrival. Rather, we’re referring to a stretch of time when new parents take the opportunity just to “be” with their little one.
“From one moment to the next, parents go from being a family of two to a family of three; there is rebirth of the definition of family from couplehood to parenthood,” says Anastasia Galanopoulos, PhD, instructor of early childhood at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and principal of Parenting with Perspective, a parent coaching practice in Boston. “A babymoon is important because it allows parents the precious time to be totally present with their new baby and get to know who she is.” It’s not so much an indulgence as it is an obligation.
Babymoon for a bit after birth with these stay-at-home suggestions …
Nest, nest, nest
Before the big day arrives, make your home a place where you can hunker down with a newborn. Prepare and freeze your favorite meals, invest in a pair of comfy pajamas and some new sheets, and put pretty soaps and candles in the bathroom. You’ll want a calming environment for your first days together as a trio.
Close up shop
Family members and close friends will inevitably be clamoring to come by and catch a glimpse of your brand-new bundle the instant you come home from the hospital, but you can set the stage beforehand by letting them know of your babymooning plans. Assure them you can’t wait to introduce them to baby and will be in touch just as soon as your freshly expanded clan is ready for a visit.
Once the blur of labor and birth are finally behind you, you can take a deep breath and really connect with your baby. This is the perfect time for both you and your partner to do some skin-to-skin cuddling with your little one and examine those 10 little fingers and 10 little toes during a long, loving sponge bath.
Get into a rhythm
Without the distraction of visitors, you and your partner can focus on becoming pros at diapering, swaddling, and reading baby’s cues for sleepiness and hunger. You can also get the hang of breastfeeding and focus on proper latching and positioning techniques. If you’re bottle-feeding, concentrate on discovering how your munchkin likes to be held during feedings.
Nurture individual relationships
Take turns with your partner rocking, singing and snuggling with your baby so you can each develop your own unique bonding styles. If this isn’t your first, give your other children time to bond with baby too. With supervision, let them cuddle for a while and get to know one another. And be sure to give big siblings special jobs, such as delivering bottles or burp cloths or picking out books to read, so they feel important and needed in their new roles.
Carve out couple time
Steal a moment to say “I love you” and “We did it!” Remind one another that although things have changed in a major way, you’ll be there to support each other through the ups and downs. When baby falls asleep for an hour or two, hold hands or cuddle on the couch. Maintain your closeness to sustain you in the chaotic weeks to come.
Rest and relax
Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your newest addition. Trade off with your partner so you can take baths and naps. It’s oh-so-tempting to answer emails, send texts, and make phone calls when baby falls asleep, but there will be plenty of time for that in the days to come.
Forget the mess
Forgo the dishes and the dusting just this once. Don’t spend time scrubbing the toilets or vacuuming the rugs when you could be on the couch gazing at your babe’s funny expressions. Use the energy you might normally spend cleaning to relish these moments with your newbie.
As your babymoon comes to a close, gradually set up times for family and friends to stop by to meet baby. Make sure to specify a time frame so that guests don’t overstay and your little one doesn’t get overwhelmed. Having had a few days to relax and get to know your newborn—and to savor those very first sweet moments—you’ll feel at ease and ready to pass her into the arms of others.