There are lots of terms for a helper that supports new babies and their parents overnight such as postpartum doula, newborn care provider and baby nurse. The term “Nurse” is protected in most states and should only be used by an actual licensed Nurse, but the other titles describe similar support roles. So, let’s start at the beginning by answering the question, What’s a Night Nanny? and describing what happens during a typical overnight shift.
What’s a Night Nanny?
A night nanny provides overnight newborn care to babies and evidence-based support to parents. In a nutshell this means that they feed, diaper, swaddle and soothe the infant in the overnight hours. They also keep the home clean and ready for the day when leaving the family home in the morning. This means cleaning and sterilizing bottles and breast pump parts, making formula if needed and ensuring baby’s area and clothing are clean and tidy.
Providing evidence-based education means being prepared to guide and teach new parents in feeding, safety, diapering, infant sleep habits and more. We provide supportive, nonjudgemental care and give parents all the information they need to make the best and safest decisions for their families.
What Exactly Happens Overnight?
The role of the Registered Nurse or Newborn Care Provider (NCP) is to care for baby through the night, usually from 10pm – 7am and provide ongoing support to parents as needed. This means we:
- diaper, feed, burp, soothe, swaddle, bathe and monitor baby.
- educate and teach new parents
- provide breast and bottle feeding support
- help get baby and twins on a schedule and sleeping through the night (if that’s what parents want!)
- tidy the area where care is provided, get bottles and breast pump ready for the next day.
- provide partner support and help understanding postpartum anxiety, depression or the “baby blues”
Baby’s night will also be documented using our documentation App, LMS Live or your preferred baby tracker app.
Who Uses Postpartum Doulas and Night Nannies?
There is no “one size fits all” reason why parents have postpartum overnight care. In just about every other country besides the US there is community and government support for new parents. With families spread out and many jobs not offering maternity leave, it makes sense that parents would need a helping hand.
While the reason can and should be as simple as, “because I just ran the equivalent of a marathon and I want to,” here are some of the most common reasons people have overnight newborn care:
- There’s no other choice – they’re up against the clock of maternity leave and need sleep to function at work.
- They have other kids and family they need to be present for.
- No family help available.
- Twins, triplets and higher order multiples requiring at least 24 feeding and changing sessions PER DAY
- Baby is home from extended stay in the NICU and guess what! Maternity leave was exhausted during this time.
- To stay ahead of mental and physical health issues. Postpartum mental health disorders can affect anyone and restorative sleep helps both parents.
What if I’m Breastfeeding?
In the early nights after birth when baby is likely feeding every 2-3 hours a night nanny offers lactation support through your breastfeeding session to ensure nursing is off to a successful start. Then we’ll provide all care after baby has nursed doing the diaper changing, burping, diapering and swaddling back to bed. The goal is for parents to never get out of bed, maximizing recuperation time. (Unless they want to get up!) Many times parents and caregivers will text, to give each other a little message that it’s time to nurse.
As the weeks go on and you’re able to have a “stash” of breastmilk for overnight feeds, an overnight caregiver can use this pumped milk for overnight feeds or continue to bring baby to you. As baby becomes more alert, usually around week 6, the newborn caregiver will be up and caring for baby during the wakeful overnight periods. This equates to about 2-3 more hours of sleep for parents when nursing.
What’s a Night Nanny? – What’s a Baby Nurse?
Baby Nurse is a phrase that comes from the ancient practice of wet nursing, where others would breastfeed baby when a mother could or would not nurse and formula was not yet available. The reasons why wet nursing was normal practice throughout history is worth reading, and as such an ingrained part of so many cultures, it makes sense that “baby nurse” is still used today. Legally however, the title of Nurse should only be used by licensed Registered Nurses, Practical Nurses and Vocational Nurses.
Nurse care is appropriate when there is a medical need for care of the child. Common reasons for this in the home include: using feeding tubes or other medical devices, passing medications to baby or when a child has special needs. Pediatric nursing is typically covered by insurance.
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