Carving Out a Babymoon Period
Friends and family love nothing more than to visit and gaze at the newest little member of the group and the joy of having a new baby is felt by all. It’s a life-changing event – plus babies are ridiculously adorable! As a midwife, I understand that parents can’t wait to show off their beautiful baby and that friends and family want to meet the baby as soon as possible too! But this is not always the best thing for a recovering mama and her new baby. In the early days, both need to focus on bonding and recovery. The first two weeks is the period of time I like to call the babymoon.
A time of rest and recovery, the babymoon period is the critical phase where babies are returning to birth weight and new parents are getting to know their little person. I always advise my clients to make time to enjoy the babymoon. This time is so fleeting and special – and ideal for learning your baby’s rhythms.
Initially, babies tend to be more awake at night. Straightening out days from nights takes time, and entertaining guests during the day makes sleeping when your baby sleeps more difficult. This can set you up for some challenging nights. (If only grandma and grandpa could time their visits for the middle of the night, when you need the most help!) In my experience, loved ones who understand why you need privacy and rest during this transition have no problem delaying their visit until you are ready, but you may need to set some boundaries for the first few weeks so you can fully enjoy and learn from this unique, and very short, stage.
The following are some tips to help you create the space for a special babymoon period.
Before the birth, let your friends and family know how important this time will be for you. Explain why it's important that your family has this space to tend to nothing else but your own immediate needs. This will help you recover more quickly and be ready sooner for the company you'll inevitably want!
Tell everyone about your baby’s arrival, then unplug. Phones, Facebook and Instagram can get the news out quickly and efficiently. Use these media to share your intention of taking some time out to get to know your newborn – then do it.
3. Spell it out
Literally. Hang a sign on your front door with a few details (birth date/time and weight, etc) and then add a comment along the lines of, “Please respect our family’s babymoon period and only stay for a short visit.” This will help avoid the awkwardness of telling someone it's time to go or suffering in silence through a long visit.
4. Ask for help
Of all the tasks and chores you would normally do during that week, what can you delegate to someone else? You may be surprised how eager family and friends are to support you by cooking, cleaning, or helping with childcare if you ask them.
5. Play the part
Stay in your pajamas in your bedroom with a cup of tea by your bedside. Getting dressed in regular clothing or wearing makeup to disguise your fatigue will tell people that you are up for more than you actually are. Be real and allow yourself to rest completely.
6. Plan an “open house”
Get it all over with in a single afternoon. Send out an invitation to visit on one day between specific hours: on Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, for example. For some, the prospect of an open house is less overwhelming and stressful than the idea of fielding calls and visits all week long.
Allowing yourself a babymoon period will help you shore up your resources and gain confidence for the long run ahead. Once you're ready, make sure you take full advantage of all the support available to you. If you experience feelings of excessive postpartum sadness, negativity, or anxiety, be sure to reach out right away to your partner, care provider, or friends for help.
*Originally published February 19, 2016