Having a new baby is a blessing, albeit not an easy one. As much as mothers are over the moon when the baby arrives, the exhaustion often takes over. Coming out of the delivery room struggles, mother is barely able to hold her head up, let alone take care of a small creature that needs 24-hour attention. It is not humane to ask a mother to do it all on her own at such a tough time. Also, it happens that complications occur to the mother or baby during pregnancy or at birth, making the task of caring for the baby even harder.
Sleeplessness is an inevitable part of caring for a baby. With the irregular sleep schedule, the parent who is in charge of waking up with the baby is barely able to live. If we add other responsibilities, such as work, other kids or household chores, to the equation, we get a balance that is impossible to maintain. This is why getting help is sometimes a must for the health and wellbeing of the mother. Getting some extra sleep can go a long way in the mother’s ability to maintain a healthy and happy life.
Hiring a night nurse is one of the ways a mother can get some rest at night and be able to continue with her other commitments the next day. The concept was foreign at first, but then it gradually gained popularity and is now applied worldwide. Here, we list 15 things to know about night nurses, detailing their tasks, nature of work and advantages.
15 The Main Job
A night nurse’s main job is to spend the night with the baby to give the mother a chance to rest. She handles the baby’s nighttime feedings, soothes the baby to sleep and tends to its needs until the mother wakes up. In general, a night nurse does not sleep at night, because she is hired when the baby’s sleep is too irregular to handle. Usually, she handles all the night tasks for consecutive hours in which the mother is asleep.
It is expected for babies to sleep more through the night as they grow up. This is why the night nurse handles the night shift in which the baby wakes up more often. Newborns are unable to distinguish day from night, which is why they might be up and alert even if they are kept in a dimly-lit room at night. So, if the baby wakes up and stays up, a night nurse offers the supervision the baby needs, even when it is not feeding.
14 When She’s Needed
The timing when a night nurse is needed differs for each family. Some mothers prefer to begin from day one, so they can recover from the birth easily. Other mothers start at later months for various reasons. For example, a working mother is likely to hire a night nurse a week or two before she returns to work after her maternity leave is over. This gives her enough time to adjust to the new system before she actually starts working.
It may be different for a stay-at-home mother. If she has older kids, she might like to start using a nurse when her kids approach the summer vacation. This will allow her to keep up with the demands of the older kids all day, while getting some rest and not having to stay up all night with a crying baby. In short, the other responsibilities and the circumstances of each family will determine the time at which the parents decide to get a night nurse.
Anyone is able to stay up with a baby to feed it, but that doesn’t mean that the parents will trust just anyone with their precious little infant. Interviewing potential candidates is the first step to ensure that the parents have someone they are comfortable with. Also, they can run a background check on the person and know if any trouble pops up. Previous experience is also an asset, because it means that the nurse knows how to deal with babies.
Mostly, the term “nurse” does not imply an actual nurse. Yet, some night nurses have an actual medical background. They are registered nurses who know CPR and have first-aid certificates. Many parents are comfortable with someone who is qualified enough to handle any emergencies that may happen during their shift. Others think it is sufficient to have the experience of dealing with babies before. Some nurses are qualified enough to deal with mothers with postpartum depression and similar issues.
12 How To Hire One
There are two ways of handling the process of hiring a night nurse. First, there are agencies responsible for hiring people for that type of work. They have specific criteria by which they select their candidates to ensure that they have the best people. This helps the parents be sure that they are getting someone qualified for the job. It is possible to let the agency know what kind of work parents are looking for and whether there are any special services they require.
Second, there is the option of online hiring. There are several official websites that allow the hiring of night nurses through them. Like agencies, there are several candidates with several experiences and the parents can choose the arrangement they can afford and what they are comfortable with. They also get to know what benefits they need to provide for their chosen candidate beforehand. Websites also offer insurances against any problems that might happen, which means that they trust their candidates and their selection process.
11 Feeding Method
Because newborn babies don’t do much besides feeding and crying, the feeding method is an important part of the job. If the mother is formula-feeding, the night nurse is in charge of preparing feedings, giving them to the baby and sterilizing bottles. In that case, the mother does not wake up for as many hours as she agrees with the night nurse when she is first hired. The night nurse is instructed on how many feedings to give the baby per night.
If the mother breastfeeds, there is a different scenario. If the mother is able to successfully pump, she can rest while the nurse gives a feeding or two to the baby at night. If it is decided that the mother has to wake up to feed, once or twice depending on how long the nurse stays and how often the baby feeds. If the mother does not pump at all, she wakes up to feed the baby only, and the night nurse handles all other tasks and lets the mother sleep between feedings.
10 Changing Diapers
In addition to feeding, the night nurse also handles everything else the baby needs at night. Diaper changing is an essential part of a long night with a baby. As babies get older, they stop soiling their diapers in the middle of the night. They simply change once before bedtime and once when they wake up in the morning. For newborn babies, that is not the case.
Newborn babies wake up at night many times and stay up, which means that they will need changing if they poop. Unless they are constipated, they usually have soft poop, which means that the diaper is likely to leak during sleep. There is also the issue of newborn babies crying a lot if the diaper is bothering them. This makes it urgent for the night nurse to promptly change the diaper if the baby needs a new one, so it can happily resume its sleep and hopefully not wake the rest of the household.
9 Sleep Training
In addition to simply watching the baby, some night nurses are experts at sleep training as well. Parents can ask the nurse at the interview if she is an expert on sleep training. Ideally, parents would want to research the methods of sleep training before they interview a nurse. With the many philosophies and options out there, they should clearly state which method they wish to adopt and make sure that the chosen nurse is qualified enough to go through with it.
Sleep training could involve specific rituals. First, many sleep training methods involve eliminating night feedings entirely. The night nurse should know if the parents want to do so, so she can maintain a correct night routine. Also, many methods involve soothing the baby, while others encourage independent sleep by letting the baby cry it out or intermittent soothing. The parents should state their opinion on this point as well.
In many cases, parents develop a nighttime routine for the baby. This could or could not involve feedings, rocking, or soothing. Whatever the parents choose to go with, they should make sure that the nurse is able to consistently maintain the routine. Whether they are sleep training or simply creating a more structured day and night system for the baby, they must be confident of the nurse’s ability to preserve a schedule.
Of course, sickness gets in the way. A baby who is able to respond well to consistency may be hindered by the lack of physical ability. Pain is one of the reasons babies go nuts when they are ill. Naturally, they cannot maintain a routine. The key here is to make sure the nurse gets back to the decided schedule once the baby is healthy enough to be put on a schedule.
7 Relationship Saver
An overlooked aspect that a night nurse provides an advantage for is the parents’ relationship. Many people expect relationships to go downhill when the babies get there, so they don’t bother making time for each other. They believe it is a part of the sacrifice to have children, but in reality, it can be avoided. A night nurse offers more than taking care of a baby at night and giving a mother rest.
Some parents are not comfortable leaving the baby at home with the nurse and going out, but even those parents benefit from her existence. If a mother gets good sleep at night, she is able to function in the morning. She is less cranky, angry, and envious of daddy who gets to sleep all night. The parents are able to use the baby’s nap time as couple time, instead of crashing on the couch the minute the baby shuts its eyes.
6 Special Babies
One of the cases in which a night nurse turns from an accessory to a necessity is special babies. Multiples, for example, can give parents hell all day and all night. They alternate waking each other and literally are awake for 24 hours. No human in the world is strong enough to handle that on their own without an extra pair of hands.
Another case is preterm babies and special needs ones. Babies who are born early and ill require extra help. In those cases, the parents prefer not only to hire someone who can give a hand, but they need the advantage of medical references as well. This is why they often choose a registered nurse, rather than a midwife or a doula. Midwifery is concerned with helping mothers, but nurses are equipped to carry, feed and change babies who are too small or too ill to be treated normally.
5 Sick Mothers
Postpartum depression (PPD) is more common than we care to admit. Many women confuse it with the normal tiredness and moodiness associated with having a baby and brush it off. Mothers who suffer from PPD require medical assistance in the form of therapy and need a helping hand at home to prevent the situation from aggravating her symptoms. This is where a qualified night nurse comes in handy.
Similar to special babies, not all women are equipped to handle sick mothers. Midwives and doulas may help, but some of them cannot handle certain illnesses, such as mental or psychological ones. Also, if the mother had complications from birth, it is likely that she will need a registered nurse to handle her stitches, pain, medications and general wellbeing issues. Tearing, excessive bleeding and infected C-section scars are some examples of such complications. In other words, depending on the situation at hand, different night nurses may be required.
4 Money Matters
As attractive as the option of hiring a night nurse is, it does not come cheap. In the United States, hiring a night nurse costs from $25 to $40 an hour. Considering a standard 8-hour shift, this could amount to a minimum of $200 a night! Of course, this does not mean that it is a service preserved for the richest, but some people need it so bad that they break the bank to hire one.
Depending on the circumstance, money may or may not be available. A house that runs on two paychecks can afford a night nurse so that both paychecks keep coming without the mother staying at home. If there are extreme cases, parents might prefer hiring a night nurse as opposed to saving for a vacation. Each family should consider the option of a night nurse before birth, so they can determine if the option suits their budget and if it is worth the money for them.
3 The Worry
As expected, a mother who hires a night nurse will not automatically get peace of mind right away. No matter how trusted the nurse is, a mother will always worry about her baby. She may not be able to get any sleep at all for the first week, until she and the baby settle into the new situation. However, this should not stop her from following through with her plans
If a mother is tired and paying all this money to get rest, then she should get the rest she deserves. She should not worry so much as long as the nurse proves herself competent and the baby is healthy and well. It is likely that mothers worry enough to quit the whole thing at the beginning. Yet, this is only a phase that will eventually lead to a much more comfortable lifestyle, that they might later regret not sticking to.
2 The Guilt!
Of course, leaving the baby with a stranger is looked down upon by many women. Questions like “How do you trust her?” “How can you leave the baby all that time?” and “Doesn’t the baby need to bond with its mother instead?” may come up repeatedly and spike a sense of unbearable guilt in the mother’s mind. This may drive her to feel bad about herself for getting help.
The solution is simple: ignore them. People can be judgmental at times. They do not live the mother’s life and do not understand how raising a baby can be differently draining from one woman to another. They usually do not know the whole story, but continue to criticize anyway. Even when people are not involved, the mother may still feel guilty that she is not as competent as others. Actually, she should know that every mother is different and that requiring help does not mean that she loves her baby any less or that she is less capable than other mothers.
1 The Final Call
With so many sides to the story, deciding to hire a night nurse is a big decision. It is not easy to simply pick one and start working with her. One must consider money, skills needed, parenting philosophies, the status of the mother and the baby, and the lifestyle the parents wish to have. Needless to say, it gets confusing.
At the end of the day, it is up to both parents to decide. Since many people can be negative about it, it is better that the parents stick to each other and decide what they want rather than let others steer them in a wayward direction. A step-by-step approach is to list the aspects they need to talk about that decide whether they need a nurse and which kind of nurse they need. Next, they should research options, ask family and friends for recommendations and formulate a final action plan that makes them both feel comfortable and happier.