Parents-to-Be Escape on 'Babymoons'

Baby makes three, which is why more and more expecting couples are flocking to resorts for one last getaway while they’re still just two.

Taking a mini-vacation during pregnancy, before the reality of parenting sets in, has become popular — so much so that it has developed its own buzzword: the “babymoon,” derived, of course, from “honeymoon."

“It’s the end of just you and your husband,” said Lisa Witkowski, 38, of Albany, N.Y., who took a pre-baby vacation to Bermuda before her daughter, Olivia, was born. “We could just focus on each other.”

The trend is most common among first-time parents-to-be, who see the getaway as a "last hurrah."

“It’s one of the last vacations you’ll ever be able to take child-free,” said Patty Onderko, senior editor at Baby Talk magazine. “Even if you go on a vacation without your child later on, you’re thinking about them, worrying about them.”

And because there’s so much to do before the new arrival arrives, a “babymoon” can be the perfect way to shift to a slower gear.

“Parents get really crazy during pregnancy,” Onderko said. “This is a way to force yourself to slow down, relax a little bit and enjoy each other, because when the baby comes, it’s not going to be as easy.”

Capitalizing on the trend, a growing number of hotels and resorts have begun offering packages for moms- and dads-to-be.

Pregnancy massages and spa treatments are available at resorts including the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park; the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne near Miami; the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif.; and the Nob Hill Spa in San Francisco, among a host of others.

The Five Gables Inn & Spa in St. Michaels, Md., has the “Bundle of Joy” package, which runs from $510 to $975. It includes a two-night stay, a couples massage, a photo album, a “foot and hand relief” treatment, a lullaby CD and a coffee mug full of coffee beans. Movies like “She’s Having a Baby,” “Bundle of Joy,” “9 Months” and “Look Who’s Talking” are available for watching in the rooms.

In April, Planters Inn in Charleston, S.C., began offering a package called “Baby’s on the Way” for $1,399, which includes a three-night stay, breakfast, his-and-her massages, a jar of pickles, a cigar, turndown service with chocolate truffles and cognac for the dads, local tours, a teddy bear and a gift basket.

“It’s really cute — they get a big kick out of it,” said General Manager Larry Spelts, who said three expecting couples have taken advantage of the Planters package so far.

Many couples jet off during the second trimester, the easiest time to travel, usually going somewhere close enough to avoid a long journey in case complications arise, according to Jean Gagnon, manager of Plaza Travel in Latham, N.Y.

Gagnon, who has booked several pre-baby trips, said Florida and the Caribbean are popular destinations, and stays of two to four nights are typical.

“They usually want a beach, a nice resort,” she said. “They want to be pampered a little bit, because they know it may be their last time.”

Some parents who didn’t take a babymoon regret it when it's too late.

“I wish I had,” said 32-year-old Laura Leptuck of Oxford, Pa., who has two young daughters. “That’s definitely something you should do to give you some downtime, pampering time and rest time. The first year, you’re going to be tired a lot.”

Some might shy away from a pre-labor getaway because a trip during pregnancy sounds uncomfortable and unsexy. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“It could be more romantic than the honeymoon,” Onderko said. “You’ve made this romantic commitment to each other. You’re creating a baby together.”

After all, this is an age where pregnancy is more “out there” than it once was.

“Pregnancy has become a lot less traditional and buttoned up,” said Onderko. “It’s not something where you have to sit at home and hide for nine months. It’s more celebrated publicly than it was before, and taking a vacation is part of that.”

Witkowski, for her part, saw several other pregnant women lounging on the sands of Bermuda during her babymoon.

“It was nice to know we weren’t the only ones traveling while pregnant,” Witkowski said. “It was very relaxing. I loved being on the beach — when you’re pregnant, you don’t have to worry about holding your stomach in.”