Mercedes Forrest first heard about post-birth retreats when one of her favorite instructors, Becs Gentry, posted on Instagram about her stay at Boram Postnatal Retreat, the first such center in the U.S. Forrest watched Gentry and her husband celebrate their newborn by checking into a luxury hotel, sipping champagne, and eating protein-rich meals of salmon and seasonal salads. In the caption, Gentry wrote that during her stay she attended classes on infant CPR and met with a lactation consultant to check that her baby was properly latching. Forrest wasn’t even pregnant yet. “But I knew if I ever had a baby, that’s where I was going,” she says.

Eventually, she did. After considering hiring a doula or night nurse who would help feed and care for the baby overnight, Forrest decided a stay at Boram would be akin to hiring a doula, lactation consultant, personal chef, and cleaning person in one space for a fraction of the price, albeit still a significant sum. And while she did indulge in daily foot baths during her five-night stay in August, what Forrest most appreciated was the ability to call a nurse anytime day or night to whisk away her baby to a nursery for a few hours and offer Forrest and her husband some much-needed sleep.

Postnatal retreats have been popular in Korea, where they are known as sanhujoriwon, since the 1990s; there, new mothers check into one, though not all are quite as posh as Boram. In recent years, they’ve gained popularity across Asia and Europe and are just beginning to gain traction in the U.S., thanks in part to Instagram posts about how much support new moms receive abroad. “You have momfluencers from other countries, and you see how postpartum is for them,” says Forrest. “And you realize treatment of mothers in America is so underwhelming.”

It’s the same understanding Boram co-founder and namesake Boram Nam came to more than a decade ago when she was pregnant with her first child and deciding whether she should have the baby in New York City or her native Korea. “I created an Excel chart with pros and cons because all my friends were checking themselves into these postpartum retreats in Korea,” she says. Ultimately, she and her husband decided they couldn’t afford to travel. “How is it possible we live in one of the most amazing cities in the world and have nothing like this?” she asks.

In May 2022, the couple opened Boram, which translates from Korean to “fruit of one’s labor,” inside the Thompson Central Park Hotel in New York City. It has since served more than 700 families, who, on average, stay six nights, usually with a partner, though at least one guest stretched her visit to 42 days. The Village Postnatal Retreat Center opened at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco last July. A retreat called Sanu opened in McLean, Va., in December. The Ahma & Co. retreat debuted in Orange County in March. Retreats are also popping up in Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Diego. “My feed is full of the luxe mom movement,” Forrest says. “The older generation would say, ‘Well, I did it by myself, and my husband worked all day.’ And I think now more moms are not ashamed. They’re like, ‘If I have the means to get help, I’m going to do it.’”

It’s hardly surprising that there’s a market for these retreats in the U.S. The federal government has an abysmal track record when it comes to support for new mothers and infants. The U.S. is the only developed country without a federal policy of paid family leave and . U.S. experience postpartum depression. And in the U.S. for mothers is often limited to a single checkup about six weeks after the baby’s delivery, .

But while these retreats can be a haven for new parents, the experience comes at a cost: Depending on length of stay, Boram costs about $995 per night. And unlike some of their foreign counterparts—the Korean government offers and on postpartum care—the American retreats are not subsidized by the government and few of their offerings are covered by even the most expensive insurance plans. This means this level of care is out of reach for the vast majority of people who give birth in the U.S., leading some women’s advocates to question whether they are solving a problem or simply offering cover to a government unwilling to tackle maternal and infant health issues.

Jennifer Darwin, founder of The Village Postnatal Retreat Center, worked for 11 years as a labor-and-delivery and pediatric nurse and witnessed firsthand how little support mothers got after giving birth. “We had to discharge families because of insurance, but they weren’t ready,” she says. “The looks on their faces, they were shocked they had to go home with this human and didn’t know what to do.”

The minimal coaching parents did receive was often short and contradictory. “I’d see nurses say, ‘This is how you’re supposed to breastfeed: Do 15 minutes on this side, then 15 minutes on this side.’ That nurse would clock out,” Darwin says. “And the next nurse comes in and says, ‘You’re doing it wrong. You only breastfeed on one side.’ Then I would show up for my shift, and people are almost in tears. Their anxiety is through the roof because they feel they’re doing everything wrong.” Darwin eventually left nursing to become a birth doula because she thought she could help more parents that way. But when she realized even then she couldn’t meet her clients’ needs—she’d require a whole team of nurses and doulas for that—she began thinking about starting a postnatal retreat.

Sanu founder Julia Kim arrived at the same conclusion based on her experiences as a parent. “I took all the courses on how to change a diaper and what to do if they’re choking. I read all the books. I scoured the Internet. I was 110% ready,” she remembers. “Then I had my baby and was so lost. I couldn’t swaddle the baby. I just thought, we need to better prepare mothers, especially when it’s hard for them to walk or go to the bathroom as they’re leaving the hospital.”

Many countries have figured out how to mitigate feelings of stress and isolation for new parents. In China, a postpartum parent rests for a month while a family member or “confinement nanny” attends to housework, older children, and other tasks. In many parts of Latin America, female relatives take on domestic duties for a 40-day period called la cuarentena. In Japan, new mothers often return to their own parents’ homes while still pregnant and stay after the birth to be cared for while they heal. In the Netherlands, the government sends a maternity nurse to new parents’ homes after they’re discharged from the hospital. In Sweden, nurses and midwives make home visits after delivery. In the U.S., meanwhile, .

Erin Erenberg, CEO of Chamber of Mothers, a national nonprofit that advocates for paid family leave and affordable childcare, agrees with the founders of these retreats that new mothers are in desperate need of medical attention and psychiatric support in the months after their baby is born. “We need to look at this as an emergency,” she says. But she and others who lobby for postpartum support to be enshrined in law worry about the impact of relying on private solutions amid a public crisis. “When you offer a private service, it further widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots in this country,” she says.

Many of the people who can afford to book these retreats can also afford support of some kind. All the women who spoke to TIME about their stays at retreats said they had considered some combination of night nurses, lactation consultants, and postpartum doulas before booking a room. Erenberg ar