Why New Moms Need More Than a Luxury Postnatal Hotel Stay

Postpartum retreats help new moms feel pampered and cared for—at a price, of course. But is it enough to truly support the transition to parenthood?
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By Lauren Barth, Associate Content Director, Lifecycle
Published September 1, 2022
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Image: pikselstock/Shutterstock

Want to give birth and get pampered? Chef-prepared meals, postpartum massages, baby specialists at the ready and hotel beds that strike the balance between crisp and cloudy—no, it’s not a fantasy for the weary postpartum parent. It can be a reality—albeit for an elite few. It’s called a postnatal retreat. And it’s a wellness trend that’s on the rise.

The concept of a postnatal hotel—like the recently opened Boram at the Langham, New York—is not entirely new. Taking pause to reset and recharge in a nurturing environment (and essentially allow others to support you after childbirth) is the norm in many other parts of the world. It’s not considered frivolous; rather, it’s deemed the bare minimum. So the introduction of postnatal retreats here in the US is certainly welcome. Tending to your own needs after giving birth can feel like a near-impossible feat when you’re exhausted, in pain and focused on helping your tiny newborn thrive—so to have professionals care for you (and baby) can be a blessing, if you can swing it.

Of course, the obvious truth is that most of us can’t come close to affording this opulent option. For many, the hospital bill alone is sticker shock—even with quality health insurance. And while expert-curated workshops and high-end postpartum treatments sure sound delightful, I venture to guess that most of us would prefer sustained support over a blissful yet short-lived five-star escape.

Still, far be it from me (and my singular opinion) to deprive anyone of a little luxury in what can be a harrowing transition into life with a newborn. I’ll be the first to admit that I chose to give birth in a super-schmancy maternity hospital because I was smitten with the idea of a bougie experience—complete with a pianist to set the tone upon entry. After delivery, the nurses encouraged me to send baby to the communal nursery while my husband and I were treated to a steak and lobster dinner and served a chilled bottle of champagne.

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The thing is, that lobster dinner felt slightly ridiculous. I was uncomfortable in my mesh panties and hospital gown, and I really just wanted the Italian hoagie I’d been craving but was denied for nine+ months. And the sparkling wine was—quite honestly—an absurd addition, seeing as a lactation consultant kept popping her head into the room to evaluate my baby’s breastfeeding latch. As for the pianist? No amount of Mozart was going to calm my nerves about pushing out a baby. But hindsight is 20/20, and I never would have guessed that I’d be in a rush to get home to adjust to my new life and my growing family among my own creature comforts. I didn’t care about the included newborn photoshoot package or the nightly delivery of Haagen Daz ice cream. I just wanted my blow-up donut pillow to make sitting on my stitched-up bottom feel a little less awkward. I wanted someone to change baby’s diapers while I changed my own. I wanted to sit with my robe open and drape cabbage leaves on my throbbing boobs while I binge-watched something mindless on television. Of course, you can get all of that at a luxury postnatal hotel—if you have the funds. But you can also get that at home, if you have the right support in place. Unfortunately, too many new moms have neither of those things.

My point is: Luxury services aren’t necessarily the answer to making the postpartum transition easier. We don’t need steak and lobster. We certainly don’t need champagne and a live musician. We don’t need high-thread count sheets or chic furnishings. (But if you want these things, then by all means!)

On the other hand, we do need fair and adequate care from our medical team. We need to feel like we’re walking out of the hospital equipped to care for ourselves and a brand new human being. We need universal parental leave so that we can bond and heal and grow in our new role with confidence. We need affordable child care. We need partners, friends and loved ones to step up and step in. We need to let go of guilt and learn to accept help.

Money can pay for sitz-bath basins and jumbo maxi pads and newborn care specialists and postpartum chefs and amazing hotel rooms. But it can’t provide the fundamental support that sets us up for success from day one. So let’s pamper new moms in those first few days postpartum, and then support her in the hard weeks and months that follow. We all deserve it.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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