While we sat by the fire in our room at the Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, British Columbia, the early fall breeze wafted in through the open patio door, beckoning our attention to the serene panorama outside. As we watched the fog gently float across the mountain lake and surround the tall peaks, my husband and I marveled at the beauty in front of us and noticed something that’s usually taken for granted by the childless: total peace and quiet. Knowing that in just a few months we’d welcome our firstborn into the world and say goodbye to our ability to travel on a whim and conjure silence at will, the respite we found for a few days in this small Canadian mountain town was made that much sweeter.
Over the last few years, the “babymoon” has gone from being a celebrity trend to something a growing number of expecting couples enjoy. For those not familiar with the term, it refers to a relaxing, romantic getaway pregnant couples take before the arrival of a little one turns their world upside-down. In August, a survey of British parents showed that 28 percent of expectant couples are considering going on a babymoon, and in 2014 a survey by Liberty Travel showed that up to 2 million parents-to-be in the United States went on overnight trips before their babies arrived.
The appeal of taking a vacation before an inevitable stretch of sleepless nights and homebound days with an infant is obvious, though, as with any other phenomenon that originated in the pages of US Weekly, it may seem to some like a frivolous indulgence worthy of skepticism. A bit of cynicism is fair game if the trip’s main objectives are to veg out and amass Facebook likes on baby bump selfies, but I’d posit that devoting a few days to relaxation, mindfulness, and open dialogue with your partner before two becomes three is a healthy and necessary activity everyone should pursue before parenthood—and some relationship experts agree.
“This concept of a ‘babymoon’ is new to me, but taking time to check in and reconnect with your partner before the arrival of a baby—whether at home or on vacation—is a lovely idea,” says Marion Light, a craniosacral therapist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. It could provide chance for a couple to evaluate what is important, what you need from each other, and shed a light on patterns and tendencies that might affect your relationship when you become parents, she says.
Here, Light provides some advice on how to couples can approach the babymoon experience in a mindful way so they can make the most of the time together and remain balanced and in tune with each other during the transition to parenthood.
Set intentions for your trip. Before you leave town, agree on how you want to spend your time and identify anything you want to go over. Our agenda included a prenatal massage for me, kayaking for him, and a yoga class together—something I’ve been trying to get my reluctant husband to try for as long as I’ve known him. On the emotional front, I let him know that I wanted to check in about the things we’re feeling nervous about in anticipation of our new arrival.
Reflect on past experiences. “Just as your relationship can be a reflection of your parents’ relationship, when you have children your own experiences from childhoods emerge in the picture,” says Light. This was something I had never thought about before, and it was interesting to explore how our experiences growing up—such as our sibling relationships, family routines, and childhood perspectives—might manifest in our home as adults. That said, my husband was a little wary of my attempts at psychoanalysis, so I’d advise any would-be armchair psychiatrists to keep things light and exploratory so your trip doesn’t start to feel like one long therapy session.
Apply mindful awareness each and every day. “Practicing intentional, mindful awareness helps you get to know yourself more and more, and can change you from the inside out,” says Light. But while a few days of reflection on your babymoon can certainly be helpful, it’s important to remember that the real benefit comes from ongoing work; a few days away won’t be a magic bullet for stress—try to continue the practice when you get back home. If you struggle to find time for contemplation once your baby arrives, try Sonima’s 10-minute guided meditations for moms, such as this meditation on self-care for mothers and this stress-reducing meditation for mothers.
Make resolutions together. “A marriage is a contractual agreement and to have a healthy marriage you have to renegotiate that contract over time,” says Light. By the end of your babymoon, she recommends making three commitments to each other. These can be large or small—the idea is to communicate and agree upon a few priorities you both value as parents and partners. For example, you might agree to take a regular date night once the baby arrives. “It’s important not to forget your relationship when you have children,” says Light.
Relax and have fun. “It doesn’t have to be heavy,” she says. The important thing is to communicate from the heart, be open-minded, and really tune in to the other. My favorite memories from our trip include some fantastic meals, long naps by the fire, and the perplexed look on my husband’s face when our yoga teacher started chanting while beating a drum and chanting to the mountain spirits during yoga class. Those experiences helped us be at ease and connected, allowing us to believe that we’ll have this parenthood thing in the bag. (And perhaps this brings us to a final lesson of the babymoon: A little false confidence never hurt anyone, right?)