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Babymoons: One last hurrah before the birth

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The "Babymoon Bliss" package at the luxe Royal Palms resort in Phoenix includes massages, a "baby bump" photo session and in-room movies with popcorn. Photo Credit: Handout

Mariah Carey enjoyed one at a resort outside Los Angeles. Natalie Portman took hers in Napa. From Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to Britney Spears and Kevin Federline (remember them?), "babymoons" -- a chance for expectant couples to get away for one last romantic hurrah -- have been popular for the past few years.

And not just for celebrities.

This past summer, Dominique Baptiste and John Hughes, of West Babylon, vacationed on Cape Cod, Mass., before the birth of their first child last month.

Granted, Baptiste, a legal secretary, and her fiancé Hughes, an electrician, may not have a shelf full of Grammys, an Oscar or a squadron of publicists on speed-dial ... but they know the value of a babymoon.

"We both thought it was important to get away for that one last time ... since the next time we'll be worry-free to travel will most likely be when our daughter is 18," says Baptiste, 34.

Some 23 percent of moms-to-be say they're planning a babymoon, while 40 percent said they'd like to but can't swing it financially, according to The Bump Report, a survey of more than 1,000 pregnant women appearing in the November issue of American Baby magazine.

"But the good news is you don't have to take a crazy international trip or spend a lot of money to just relax," says Laura Kalehoff, American Baby's executive editor. Go to a hotel a few towns away, or take the train into the city for a couples massage at a day spa.

"It doesn't have to be epic," she says. "The whole point is to connect."

 

PLANNING A BABYMOON

Hotels, inns and B&Bs offer babymoon packages with extras like sparkling cider (since mama shouldn't indulge in the real bubbly), spa treatments and late checkout.

That's all vital for couples, given that "the relationship is about to undergo a paradigm shift," says Dr. Jill Rabin, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

That ootsie-wootsie bundle of joy is a real game-changer, a fact that can get overlooked among the dizzying array of anatomical info, stroller choices and baby name options couples are inundated with.

"We try to make each couple aware of what the other person is going through," says Cindy Scott-Fuchs, a licensed massage therapist who teaches a "Mellow Mommy" relaxation class to expectant couples as part of a babymoon package at the Timber Cove Inn in California. Sound New Agey? Sure. The seminar is designed to help couples "find relaxation, find sanity, find your ground," she says. And that stunner view of the Pacific doesn't hurt.

Closer to Long Island, babymoon options abound.

"We've gotten about six to eight pregnant couples in the last month," says Lyn Norris-Baker, who, with her husband, runs the Inn at Ellis River in Jackson, N.H. Their "Babymoon Getaway" package includes sparkling cider, chocolates, prenatal massage and a candlelit dinner or gourmet picnic lunch.

Couples staying at the Village Inn of Woodstock can opt for a "Babymoon Over Vermont" package that includes massages, a "Bear-Foot & Pregnant Vermont Teddy Bear" and a $100 gift certificate for nearby Simon Pearce, makers of elegant glassware, pottery and home decor. Go ahead -- buy yourself something nice before the baby starts breaking things.

"Right now, we're in the middle of leaf-peeping season," says co-owner David Brey. "People can just space out a lot -- Vermont's great for that," he says.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

There are no rules. You can be as active (OK, nix the scuba and bungee-jumping) or lazy as you like on a babymoon.

Baptiste and Hughes traveled during the second trimester of her pregnancy, staying at a beach-side hotel in Dennisport, Cape Cod. They strolled the village of Hyannis, took a whale-watching tour out of Barnstable Harbor (After morning sickness, what's a few waves?) and spent a night on Martha's Vineyard. And all the while, their "bump" was the center of attention.

"Everyone's nice to you because they could see ...well, there were times I could barely walk around," Baptiste says. "Everyone wants to offer their seat, advice and luck."

And predictions.

"Nine out of 10 people said I was having a boy," Baptiste recalls. Because "your nose didn't grow wide," "your complexion is clear," "your belly looks like a basketball" -- the oh-so-technical appraisals kept coming and coming.

(For the record, little Hanna -- delivered in September -- is a girl "and proved everyone wrong," Baptiste reports.)

That's the thing about pregnancy -- it's a mysterious and unpredictable time. Many moms-to-be react by trying to exert as much control as possible.

"All the planning, reading, and registering for just the right gear can be exhausting," Kalehoff says. "Moms more than ever today need to unplug. For just a day or two, or even an afternoon, stop worrying about what color you're painting the nursery ceiling and just enjoy your partner."

 

BABYMOONING TIPS

WHEN TO GO

It's usually best between weeks 14 and 28, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This is after the first trimester's morning sickness, yet still months before the due date.

GET CLEARANCE

Although airline restrictions on flying domestic routes while pregnant don't kick in until the last trimester, you'll want to consult with your doctor for specific recommendations before you make plans. Cruise lines are particularly cautious and tend not to allow passengers to sail after the 24-week mark of their pregnancy. Most also require all women who are expecting to furnish medical documentation confirming their due date in order to board.

PICKING A DESTINATION

Look for packages at places geared for adults, not kids. "You'll have plenty of years to go on family vacations," says Laura Kalehoff, American Baby's executive editor.Also, check on what kind of medical help is available at or near your hotel -- just in case. "Most places have doctors on call," says Dr. Jill Rabin of Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.

BAG IT

When it's time to travel, have snacks within reach. For car trips, Dominique Baptiste recommends packing goodies in stand-up bags so "you don't have to use your toes to get them off the floor."

 

BABYMOON PACKAGES

Prices are valid through Dec. 31.

NORTHEAST

Gurney's Inn

290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk

631-668-2345, gurneysinn.com

Gurney's spa features a soothing 60-minute "Mother to Be" prenatal massage ($105 plus service charge) and a "Mother-to-Be" package that includes a Brush & Tone exfoliation treatment, 60-minute prenatal massage, 25-minute Ocean Radiance facial, manicure and pedicure ($321 plus service charge; rooms start at $175 a night).

The Australian Walkabout Inn Bed and Breakfast

837 Village Rd., Lancaster, Pa.

888-925-5228, walkaboutinn.com

Babymoon special includes breakfast, massages, nighttime milk and cookies, and coupons for children's stores at local outlets ($350 for one night, $540 for two-night stay).

Glasbern Country Inn

2141 Pack House Rd., Fogelsville, Pa.

610-285-4723, glasbern.com

"Babymoon Getaway" includes two-night stay with dinner for two and massages for mom and dad at on-site spa (from $705).

Cape Codder Resort & Spa

1225 Iyannough Rd., Hyannis, Mass.

888-297-2200, capecodderresort.com

"Countdown to Baby" spa package includes facials, couples massage, pedicure for mom (who might not be able to reach her toes), sparkling wine, chocolates and $60 meal gift certificate (starting at about $700 a night).

The Palmer House Inn

81 Palmer Ave., Falmouth, Mass.

800-472-2632, palmerhouseinn.com

Babymoon package includes sparkling grape juice, gift basket with children's books, couples massage at nearby day spa, round-trip ferry tickets to Martha's Vineyard ($751 a night through Nov. 7; $731 a night Nov. 8-Dec. 31).

Village Inn of Woodstock

41 Pleasant St., Woodstock, Vt.

802-457-1255, villageinnofwoodstock.com

"Babymoon Over Vermont" includes breakfast, Bear-Foot & Pregnant Vermont Teddy Bear, massages and $100 gift certificate to Simon Pearce shop ($370 package price in addition to room rate, from $250 a night).

Inn at Ellis River

17 Harriman Rd., Jackson, N.H.

800-233-8309, innatellisriver.com

"Babymoon Getaway" includes sparkling cider, chocolates (or pickles and ice cream), prenatal massage, rubber ducky and candlelit dinner for two or gourmet picnic lunch ($149 package price in addition to room rate, starting at $129 a night).

WESTERN U.S.

The Cliffs Resort

2757 Shell Beach Rd., Pismo Beach, Calif.

800-826-7827, cliffsresort.com

"And Baby Makes Three" special includes welcome basket with diapers, mom and dad massages, $50 dinner voucher and movie with homemade ice cream -- in a room overlooking miles of rugged coastline (from $359 a night).

Timber Cove Inn

21780 North Coast Hwy. 1, Timber Cove, Calif.

707-632-5934, timbercoveinn.com

Babymoon package includes exclusive "Art of Relaxation" workshop (stretches, couples massage techniques and communication taught by Mellow Mommy founder Cindy Scott-Fuchs and her husband), plus breakfast, organic snack basket, relaxation gift package, 90-minute massage with mini facial and foot wrap and late checkout ($800 for a two-night stay, or $650 a couple if three to six couples are booked for the same weekend).

The Royal Palms

5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Ariz.

800-672-6011, royalpalmshotel.com

"Babymoon Bliss" includes a two-night stay, "Baby Bump" photo session with pro photographer, prenatal massage and pedicure for mom, massage, cigar and Cognac for dad, candlelit bath for two and in-room baby-themed movies with popcorn (from $2,200).

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