Baby Nurses – The Inside Scoop from our Baby Nurse Specialist
Some of the people I speak with who are considering hiring a Baby Nurse are still not quite sure how it all really works so here are some answers to a few of the most common questions I get about Baby Nurses…
If I’m breastfeeding does it make sense to have a Baby Nurse?
When the baby wakes up, the Baby Nurse can bring the baby to Mom for nursing. After feeding, Mom has the option of handing the baby right back over to the Baby Nurse who can burp, change and settle the baby back to sleep. Sometimes the burping and changing process takes as long as the actual feeding so being able to hand the baby off for this allows Mom to go right back to sleep. Also, having someone supporting you at 3 a.m. (answering your questions and getting you that glass of want you’ll need) can make a big difference.
Additionally, Mom has the option using a breast pump and having the baby bottle fed by the Baby Nurse. After feeding, the Baby Nurse can store the extra milk, clean the pump bottles and set up the pump equipment again.
According to data from a recent study 13% of mothers who wanted to breastfeed were unsuccessful in doing so because “they didn’t get enough support to get breastfeeding going.”* While a T&C Baby Nurse is not typically a formally trained lactation consultant, they are often very experienced with supporting breastfeeding mothers and have many suggestions and tips that can help make the process successful for mother and baby. They’ll support Mom without any judgment if she decides at any point that she no longer wishes to breastfeed, wants to supplement with formula, etc.
Who are T&C Baby Nurses and what are they really like?
T&C represents women of all ages and backgrounds. Because we require a significant amount of hands on experience in the field (e.g. our least experienced Baby Nurse has worked in the field since 2004) a good portion of our pool are a more mature profile. Because a T&C Baby Nurse has such a high level of experience even parents who have already had 3 children say they’ve learned valuable tips from our Baby Nurses.
A skilled Baby Nurse knows that her job is to support the parents and she is clear that her own opinions are irrelevant unless specifically asked. They are also generally quiet by nature and know when to step in and be helpful and when to be “invisible”. She often has suggestions for how to include a partner who wants to help and tips for how to help an older child adjust to the addition of a new baby.
Any Baby Nurse who insists on doing things her way, one who is overbearing or aggressive in any way is simply not a T&C Baby Nurse.
Does the Baby Nurse sleep at night and where do they stay?
A Baby Nurse will most frequently stay right in the nursery with the baby. A bed is usually necessary since it’s difficult for a Baby Nurse to sit in a chair for 10+ hours, however, this accommodation will depend on the Baby Nurse.
Some Baby Nurses will “doze” if they have taken care of everything and the baby is sleeping peacefully. Their sleep is a light one and they are always right next to the baby so that they can immediately respond to whatever the baby may need. Other Baby Nurses will stay awake all night reading with a book light, working on a laptop, etc.
What else does a Baby Nurse do other than caring for the baby?
A Baby Nurse’s priority is always the baby’s care and keeping the nursery dark and quiet, but depending on the layout of the house they will usually be as helpful as possible with other baby related tasks such as, washing and folding baby laundry, sterilizing and prepping bottles, cleaning and setting up breast pump equipment and straightening the nursery.
I’ve also found that T&C clients who have had a Baby Nurse get off on solid footing in terms of getting the baby on a good sleeping schedule. I have found that parents working without a Baby Nurse sometimes inadvertently create sleeping habits that ultimately create sleep problems for the baby (and thus the parents) down the road. A T&C Baby Nurse can also usually get the baby sleeping through the night much sooner than parents are able to without this support.
Does having a Baby Nurse impact our ability to bond with our baby?
Postpartum baby support is not a new idea, in other cultures and parts of the country, women have other women around them, supporting them with the daily care of both themselves and their babies. In the Bay Area, frequently extended family lives far away, but even if extended family is nearby they are usually older and asking them for help at 3 a.m. isn’t really a viable or appropriate option.
A new baby is a wonderful gift, but also brings on an exhausting and sometimes very stressful time. A new parent who has someone there to help maximize their sleep, answer their questions and generally provide emotional support is more able to relax and enjoy their new baby, actually allowing them to be more “present” for the bonding process. A parent with other children in the home is juggling their needs as well, including helping them adjust (without resentment) to the newest addition. Being available to nurture the bonds with their other children during the day without having support and rest at night can quickly become a significant challenge.
Additionally, according to the Mayo clinic**, about 10% of new moms experience postpartum depression, a severe form of emotional distress that kicks in the postpartum period. Hormones and lack of sleep added to feelings of being generally overwhelmed cause some women to feel that they’ve lost control. Postpartum depression can make it difficult to bond with a baby. A Baby Nurse can provide much needed sleep for a Mom struggling with postpartum depression, allowing her to function better and be able to enjoy her time with the baby.
Why do dads usually like the idea of a Baby Nurse?
Frequently Dad is big fan of the idea of a Baby Nurse. I believe this is because (frankly) it gives them a bit of their partner back and brings in a neutral party to help educate and support both Mom and Dad. Some Dads (especially of breastfeeding mothers) really want to be supportive and involved, but are unsure of how exactly how they can best do that – a Baby Nurse can gently educate a Dad on the different ways they can be involved in the baby’s care. Especially with a first child, Mom and Dad are thrown into whole new roles and a Baby Nurse can act as gentle and supportive coach to help as they begin to figure things out.
* From “New Mother’s Speak Out” created by Eugene R. Declercq, Carol Sakala, Maureen P. Corry and Sandra Applebaum. August 2008. Report of surveys conducted January – February and July – August 2006
for Childbirth Connection by Harris Interactive® in partnership with Lamaze International
** By Mayo Clinic Staff June 7, 2008. © 1998-2009 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).