5 essentials for a babymoon
I feel like we need to find the middle ground between a traditional babymoon (staying in to rest and recover for an entire moon cycle) and a modern-day realistic version of events.
If the concept is new to you a babymoon can best be described as the opportunity for the new mum and her baby to recover from birth in the comfort of home and establish a healthy feeding rhythm and, ultimately, a long lasting bond. Ideally the mother is given the space and time to just be with her baby without the need to cook, clean or tend to daily chores. Furthermore, visitors are kept to a minimum and there is absolutely no expectation to leave the home for a good few weeks.
Yes, it’s kind of like a holiday (I think of it as such) but of course there’s the postpartum healing that’s also taking place so there’s a fair bit of pain and general discomfort in the mix, too. Perhaps what’s most inspiring about a babymoon is the research that supports it. Studies have shown that when a new mum does carve out the time for postpartum rest and healing, she benefits for the rest of her life – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Of course, a babymoon becomes slightly more difficult to attain with every new baby that joins the family. Support and extra, helping hands are absolutely necessary when it comes to the needs and wants of older siblings. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that during those first few weeks with a new baby, it’s the older children that require the most from you; emotions run high, tantrums are the norm and the family home becomes a bit of a whirlwind (a loud one if there’s six of you).
Over the past few weeks I’ve been resting and recovering and getting to know my sweet Marigold. I’ve also been reflecting on my mothering journey over the past ten years and how much I’ve learnt about myself and my expectations. And as I’ve considered my own circumstances I’ve also wondered why our culture places so much emphasis on the birth of the baby while (mostly) disregarding the weeks and months that follow (also known as The Fourth Trimester).
Birth preparation is essential but where’s the how-to guide for postpartum healing and baby bonding? And why has the term babymoon become associated with a tropical-holiday-whilst-pregnant as opposed to celebrating the new mum and honouring her most primal needs at her most tender time?
If you’re currently pregnant and actively preparing for a babymoon (a dedicated week or two to heal) here’s five absolute essentials that will make it possible:
- an understanding and supportive partner : regardless of where or how you birth your baby, you’ll expect your partner to be there for every breath; holding your hand, rubbing your back and offering constant encouragement. The same goes for the first few weeks after baby arrives. You’ll need your partner’s support in the first week to do the most basic of things (like get out of bed) and you’ll rely on him/her when the tears (and milk!) are flowing, when you’re ravenous but unable to leave the couch and to fend off well-meaning neighbours and visitors who may turn up without notice. Think of your partner as the gatekeeper and hand-holder, your physical and emotional supporter and, most importantly, your baby’s parent. He/she deserves all the time and space to bond with your baby and the three of you should have every opportunity to soak in the goodness of each other. A babymoon offers significant benefit to mother and baby but it’s also an essential piece of establishing a healthy family bond. The first few weeks can be sore and tiring and challenging but they are also exquisitely beautiful. Cherish them.
- ready-made nourishing meals : I ate chicken soup in the early stages of my labour and sipped it in bed on my first night after birth and I’m convinced that it’s done wonders for my recovery and my milk supply. Simple, nourishing meals are exactly what you need post-birth so fill your freezer with food that can be easily re-heated (a few ideas here). If you’ve got older children who attend pre-school and/or school it’s also a good idea to do some baking in preparation for morning and afternoon tea and lunchboxes. I’ve also found that having a container full of chopped vegies has been a lifesaver for dinner and snacks…think cucumber, carrot, capsicum…it’s literally ten minutes preparation every few days but you’ll thank yourself every time someone complains of hunger!
- a fully stocked pantry and bathroom cabinet : having everything on hand in those first few weeks really does induce a sense of calm and it’s so good to know that there’s nothing you need to leave your nest for. Spend the last few weeks of your pregnancy stocking your pantry with essentials and set up an online shopping account so you don’t have to go near the supermarket for the first few months. Think about your necessities too – there’s quite a few of them in the first few weeks. I highly recommend having the following on hand for yourself and your baby:
- maternity pads, overnight pads, regular pads – for all stages of postpartum bleeding
- a hot water bottle to ease afterpains (and this hot water bottle cover because it’s organic, soft and beautiful)
- pain relief for afterpains (absolutely necessary for me as I was close to tears in the first few days)
- epsom bath salts for bathtime
- breast pads to soak up abundant milk
- calendula balm or papaya ointment for sore nipples and/or nappy rash
- nappy squares (these were sent to me from Nature Baby and they are beautifully soft and so practical…I use four a day for spilt milk, nappy-off-in-the-sunshine-time and on the change table)
- support band or singlet – your core and your lower back will, most probably, appreciate extra support in the first few weeks. I’ve found that with every baby my body has required a little extra support, so much so that this time ’round it’s been vital for my comfort. Personally, I recommend these postpartum leggings (I’ve been wearing them every day) and this belly band which can be worn to support your belly in pregnancy, too
- gracious guests : uninterrupted time to rest is a vital part of a babymoon so it goes without saying that visitors don’t really fit into the equation. I encourage you and give you permission to be brave and say no to visitors, if it’s what you most wish. Here’s the thing; most people forget what it’s like to have a newborn, recover from birth, attach a baby to the breast, tend to older siblings and make time to sleep. You are allowed to tell your family and friends that for the first few weeks you have chosen to hibernate and rest with your baby. When you feel like you’re ready to leave your cocoon be mindful not to over-schedule your week. A few visitors here and there scattered over the first six weeks is a great way to introduce your little one.
- a guilt-free mindset : a babymoon can, at times, feel like an utter indulgence. And because we live in a society that measures successful motherhood on skinny jeans and cafe dates, it’s not surprising that many of us feel the need to get out and about with our new baby before too long. But here’s the thing; those first few weeks, no matter how challenging, fly by…and you’ll never get them back. Yes, it may feel like you’re indulging but by all means relish the opportunity to be with your baby. Choose cuddles over washing and resting over dishes and gratitude over guilt. Honestly, the world can wait – the world will wait.