The importance of a Babymoon (and we don’t mean a holiday!)
The term 'Babymoon' has begun to sneak into our vocabulary as a a term for that last pre-baby holiday expectant parents take before baby arrives and family life begins.
But actually, it was childbirth educator and author Sheila Kitzinger who first coined the phrase 'Babymoon' — when she talked about uninterrupted time parents need to bond with their new baby the first days after birth, without visitors.
In fact; your 'babymoon' can begin immediately after birth, or as soon as you get home from hospital.
In a perfect world partners would take lots of time off, and you would be able to properly batten down the hatches, and take to the bed to spend lots of skin-to-skin cuddling time with your new baby. There would be no visitors – except perhaps an angel downstairs preparing nutritious meals — and mum would venture no further than the bathroom, where she would enjoy twice daily baths.
Sounds like bliss?
Unfortunately circumstances rarely allow this total 'time-out'. There will be other children, family and friends eager to see the newborn, dinners that need cooking, a ringing phone, and limits on time off from work.
If possible though, both parents should spend as much time in and around the bed with the new baby, feeding, changing cuddling, sleeping and talking. Your partner should be in charge of changing baby, preparing meals, and keeping you supplied with water/juice and snacks, and/or arranging other help. You should be able to concentrate on feeding and, if up to it, changing and dressing your newborn. It helps if you have had a chance to stock up the fridge/freezer and cupboards before baby arrives, but failing that, get a friend or family member to go shopping for you (or order online).
Consider turning off phones, or at least turn down the volume, and let voice mail pick-up. There will be plenty of time to check those messages later.
If you have other children, you will find it particularly helpful if they are entertained elsewhere for at least some of the day by friends or family; or remain in their normal childcare. This will allow you to rest and spend time with your baby and ensure that you are better equipped to give them attention when they are home.
Visits – except those from midwives and nurses — should be kept to a bare minimum for the first week or two. You will want to show off your new baby, but are likely to find visitors begin to tire you quickly. They can also make it difficult to relax if you are getting used to breastfeeding.
Most maternity hospitals now make sure that visiting times are strictly adhered to. You can also ask friends and family to check with your partner before coming to visit you — and let him be the one to say that you are too tired/not up to seeing anyone.
Once home, it is up to your partner to control the front door and phone. Either operate a no-callers policy for the first week or so, or allow only close family and friends to visit for short periods. You should feel totally comfortable greeting these visitors in your pajamas, and let your partner pass on the memo that they will be even more welcome if they come armed with food. Also, operate on a help-yourself policy when it comes to tea, coffee or biscuits. And remember, it is not your job to entertain them.
In the first weeks of trying to settle your baby, it can be a good idea to keep handling by others to a minimum. Having said that, visitors will be very keen to have a hold of the baby, so if you feel comfortable doing so, let them, as long as your baby is well, and your visitors are clean, healthy and gentle. Remember that while baby is likely to have your immunity for a while there should be no kissing by anyone with cold sores.
A good idea is to try and co-ordinate visitors to come together — i.e. a 'visiting time' to avoid a constant stream of single visits — unless they are actually helping out around the house, or with your other children. Remember that, despite all the maternal feelings you may be having, other people’s children can be particularly trying as you find your feet in these first weeks after birth.
Now, snuggle up with that gorgeous baby of yours and enjoy the babymoon!
Louise Ní Chríodáin has co-authored two books with Margaret Hanahoe, Assistant Director of Midwifery at the National Maternity Hospital. Their two eguides From Bump to Birth and After Birth are available on Amazon.co.uk, and contain essential tips and advice from midwives and mothers for pregnancy and labour, and in the weeks after baby is born. You can find more of their tips and advice on bumptobirthtobaby.com
(Feature image via Jenloveskev.com)