Married American actors and new parents Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder have an unconventional tactic for coping with parenthood, revealing they plan to take ‘a month of silence’ following their baby’s birth.
Reed, 29, and Somerhalder, 38, welcomed their first child, daughter, Bodhi Soleil Reed Somerhalder, on July 25 this year and immediately disappeared from the spotlight.
Before giving birth, Reed revealed in an interview with Fit Pregnancy she and her high-profile husband would not welcome visitors or even phone calls.
“We’ll take the baby’s first month for ourselves. After the baby arrives, we’re doing one month of silence,” Reed explained.
Reed, who appeared in the Twilight film series, and Somerhalder, who stars in popular TV show The Vampire Diaries, have a combined Instagram following of 14 million people, but won’t be sharing snaps of their newborn with their many fans.
“Just the three of us, no visitors, and we’re turning off our phones too, so there’s no expectation for us to communicate. Otherwise, every five minutes it would be, ‘How are you feeling? Can we have a picture?’.
“You don’t get those first 30 days back, and we want to be fully present.”
It might sound extreme but according to clinical psychologist Dr Divna Haslam, some solo time post-birth isn’t all that unusual for new parents.
“Often people will do it for the first couple of days in hospital,” Dr Haslam explains, adding that extending that period isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
“It is really important for parents, especially mothers, and infants to bond well in the first month because we know that developing a strong attachment has a lot of positive effects long-term, like building trust or assisting general coping,” she says.
Dr Haslam says there is some risk of increasing the likelihood of developing perinatal or postpartum depression by cutting yourself off from society.
“Somewhere between one-in-five and one-in-seven women will experience some level of postpartum depression so that risk is relatively high anyway,” she says.
“Isolating yourself could have the potential to increase that risk but it also depends on what level of support the partner is giving.”
To our friends, family, and rest of the world. In my 38 years on this earth I've never experienced anything more powerful and beautiful than this. I can't think of anything more exciting than this next chapter and we wanted you to hear this from us first. This has been the most special time of our lives and we wanted to keep it between the three of us for as long as possible so we could enjoy this time with each other and our little one who is growing so fast…because that's what they do, they grow so fast. Thank you for your kind energy. Love, Ian
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Associate Professor Richard Fletcher from the University of Newcastle is also interested in how Somerhalder copes with the unadulterated bonding time.
“The thing that would be interesting would be to ask the dad after a couple of weeks how he’s doing because he won’t have been expecting the intensity,” Prof Fletcher explains.
“The mother will be more [biologically] prepared but him taking a month will give him a head-start on other dads who often have to return to week after two weeks paternity leave.”
Fans of Reed and Somerhalder will likely be unsurprised by their decision to switch off given the actors are known for adopting unconventional social strategies.
When their relationship was plagued with rumours of ill will with Somerhalder’s ex-girlfriend and co-star Nina Dobrev, they took to Instagram to clear everything up.
Posting a photo of herself alongside Somerhalder and Dobrev, Reed wrote: “Who wants to respond to made up stories about ‘friends backstabbing friends’, ‘cheating exes’, or ‘cast members exiting shows’.
“I now see that silence was taken as an opportunity to fill in the blanks with even more falsities and we, yes WE, believe we have a moral responsibility to young girls to end that narrative.
“Let’s turn this page together, as we all walk into the next chapter peacefully.”
For the last few years we thought addressing any baseless rumors with silence was the best way. Besides, who wants to respond to made up stories about "friends backstabbing friends", "cheating exes", or "cast members exiting shows" on low-brow websites like hollywoodlife that are just perpetuating trends that preceded us. Yuck. I now see that silence was taken as an opportunity to fill in the blanks with even more falsities, and juicer stories, and we, yes WE, believe we have a moral responsibility to young girls to end that narrative, because at the end of all of this, those young girls are the ones who lose. Their passion and endless devotion for a tv show is being taken advantage of, replaced with feelings of anger through divisive techniques, & even worse, their minds are being shaped & molded as their view of themselves, other girls, & what those dynamics should look like are being formed. So here's to putting an end to all those fake stories of on set jealousy, betrayal, made-up-friendships lost & women hating women. Because at the end of the day, that's what this is about: teaching girls that you have to hate other girls only breeds a generation of women who believe you have to hate other women. And that's what these magazines, websites and blogs don't understand. That is the harmful unintended consequence of their bullshit stories and we have a moral responsibility to fix that. Let's turn this page together, as we all walk into the next chapter peacefully. And finally, let's use this as an example of how important it is to stop this trend of writing horrible headlines about women, painting us as bitter, angry, insecure, heartbroken, childless, feuding, backstabbing monsters because whether we want to admit it or not, it changes the way all women view themselves. And shame on these websites for now targeting an even younger demographic, instilling this at an earlier age when girls are even more susceptible, more vulnerable and more malleable. When we write these headlines we teach hate. I've seen it firsthand. Let's shift what we put into the universe starting now, & hopefully we will start to see a shift in the way we treat each other & view ourselves❤
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If you or a loved one are experiencing postpartum or perinatal depression or struggling with mental health, contact Parentline on 1300 30 1300 or visit ww.panda.org.au.