Ritz-Carlton MommymoonBabymoon… According to “What to Expect,” the go-to parenting manual of many Americans, a Babymoon is a time for expecting parents to “catch your breath and do some serious couple bonding before your bundle arrives.” To me, this sounds like a thinly veiled marketing technique created by some savvy hotel publicist to make parents-to-be feel inadequate if they don’t take a couples vacation before their child arrives.

I have another problem with the concept: The Babymoon is reserved for first-time parents. Why? Do you not deserve a time to “catch your breath” before child #2, or 3 or 4? In fact, don’t you need that chance to catch your breath far more when you’re adding to your already established family?

My guess is that the Babymoon market is reserved for first-time parents since most Babymoon destinations cost a pretty penny. Add the cost, not to mention the stress, of finding a caregiver to stay home with the rest of the family and you’re looking at quite a pricey proposition with a lot of potential planning.

That’s why I advocate the Mommymoon. Whether you’re having your first or already have a brood at home, a pregnant woman deserves a break before their new arrival. Why just the woman? First of all, labor and delivery. If you’re a woman who has had the experience of delivering a child, I’m sure I had you at delivery. But for those who may need a harder sell, picture that which is your near future: a 3+ month phase of nighttime feedings, diaper changes and general fussiness that comes directly after labor. (Catch your breath? Forget it!) Sure, dads can be a great deal of help during the great diaper marathon, but for most women, the majority of the responsibility will fall to mom. Lastly, couples will find the experience of having a new bundle in the house as extreme couple bonding.A vacation to bond just seems superfluous.

But the Mommymoon on the other hand, is a break in the marathon of pregnancy, a moment to recharge before the home stretch of frantic nesting, surprise contractions and the ever-growing difficulty of keeping up with all the day-to-day obligations while carrying a squirming bowling ball beneath your belly button.

I was determined that this time, (my second), I was going to have a Mommymoon. (For the record, there was no Babymoon for me during my first pregnancy.) Unlike the recommendations for Babymooning, which are to go during your second trimester, I wanted to wait for the dreaded third trimester, when the feet are truly aching and touching toes a near impossibility, to take my trip.

Of course, taking a Mommymoon in your third trimester likely rules out destinations that require a flight—in my case this was true. So planning a Mommymoon may require looking in your own backyard for a destination of pampering and relaxation. Luckily, my backyard is Southern California, a veritable playground for pampering. (That said, I believe that there is a desirable destination within a reasonable drive for us all. Some mommies just might have to get a little more creative with the planning.)

Ritz-Carlton Laguna NiguelAfter great consideration, I truly took months to research and deliberate, I determined that the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel would be an ideal destination for a Southern California Mommymoon. Besides the oceanside location, attentive staff and zillion thread count sheets, the Ritz Carlton has one thing the other Southern California luxury resorts don’t offer: an all-day buffet of pregnancy-friendly food and drink.

If you’re not familiar with the Club Level experience Ritz-Carlton offers, I recommend getting to know it on your Mommymoon. As the company explains on their website, this unique level of service offered at all Ritz-Carlton properties includes many special services and privileges—the most important of which for a pregnant woman is the daily food and beverage presentation.

As you know, pregnant women find themselves famished at odd hours and with strange cravings. The Ritz-Carlton Laguna’s Club Level was able to accommodate most of mine. (I learned to stock my in-room refrigerator with a few odd items from the Club selection for the lounge’s closed hours of 11pm-7am.)

Ritz-Carlton Club Level lunchAnd mind you, the Club Lounge will not be filling you with cheese and crackers and bridge mix. The buffets are always stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly baked breads, quality proteins and, my favorite part, artful miniature desserts. Among my favorite foods during my stay were the fresh berries and cream at breakfast, a velvety coconut and cauliflower soup for lunch and steamed, fresh crab claws in the evening. (My sweet tooth also appreciated the little chocolate caramel ganache cakes and plump blackberries and raspberries topped with lemon curd and whipped cream.)

You may decide to make your Mommymoon a solo experience. A night or two of peace and quiet may be just what you need at this moment. The Ritz-Carlton Club Level is perfect for this sort of self-pampering. Since you’re likely beyond the point of perching yourself at a bar for a meal alone and you may find the “table for one” awkward, you can stick to the Club for snacks and meals. Or, as I did, take your meal back to your room and crawl under the covers—nobody to complain about crumbs! (Bear in mind, however, that Ritz-Carlton hotels are known for their outstanding restaurants. The Laguna property has two lovely options, including an elegant, ocean-front restaurant.)

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Club LoungeThe Ritz-Carlton Club Level experience is also ideal for Mommymooning with a gaggle of girlfriends. After all, you probably won’t have much time for shooting the breeze in the coming months. The Laguna Niguel Club Lounge is an inviting spot to gather. You can choose either a fireplace view on leather couches or sit at sunlit tables at the other side of the lounge to take in the sight of the surfers on the beach down below. Your friends will appreciate your choice of destination for the premium open bar and endless flutes of champagne they can enjoy while helping you to unwind. (There is also a wall of water and soft drinks to help keep you hydrated during the final stages of pregnancy.) I actually chose to travel with my mother who, in addition to being a thoughtful companion, lapped up her share of Piper Heidsieck Brut appreciatively.

The resort also has your best interest in mind when you venture off the Club Level. The spa offers special pampering for Mothers-to-be, including a pregnancy massage. And, should you desire a trip to the beach, there’s a beach butler to transfer you from the resort, perched atop the cliffside, to the beach down below. The beach butlers will also set you up with a chair and towel.

But ultimately, the spot in which an expectant mother will find her pre-baby zen is on the Club Level, where a team of staff, including a dedicated concierge, will take care of every need from an extra pillow behind your back to a DVD to take back to your room. I was a bit shocked and awed at the lengths the Club Level went to in thinking of guests’ enjoyment. During my stay we were treated to a private exhibition of the work of famed tFrench painter Toulouse-Lautrec adorning the lounge room walls. (The exhibit is on display for a limited engagement from April 2-September 30, 2015.)

Whether you can make your Mommymoon a Southern California break at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Nigel as I did or you choose a Ritz-Carlton closer to home, you’ll find a Club Level filled with staff working to exceed your expectations. Ritz-Carlton candy wallAlthough each Club Level has something slightly different to offer, all present elaborate breakfast, lunch and dinner presentations as well as a late-night dessert and cordial presentation. Don’t worry if you find yourself hungry in the few odd moments between meals, the staff will be happy to supply you with a snack of fresh fruits, salted nuts, chocolate chip cookies or other nibbles to tide you over. In fact, at the Laguna location, there’s even a wall of candy to tempt a sweet tooth 24/7.

Ritz-Carlton offers properties across the US (and worldwide). The American properties all offer Club Level services and an experience tailored to the destination. Incidentally, the hotel chain is pet friendly, should you choose to Mommymoon with your favorite companion.

To plan your Mommymoon, explore the list of Ritz-Carlton destinations on their website, http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Locations/Default.htm.