Postpartum Support for the Modern Family

Women are faced with new challenges that make finding postpartum support more difficult than in proceeding generations. It used to be the norm for a woman to have her mother or ‘in-laws’ come and help out during the postpartum period. With families fragmented all over the country and women having children later in life, family support is not always practical nor does every new mom-to-be necessarily want her family to ‘move in’ while she is recuperating from the birth of a child. This gap in postpartum support can be filled with the help of a postpartum doula, or a night time baby nurse.

What is a baby nurse?

A baby nurse is a highly skilled newborn specialist who has extensive experience with multiples, (twins, triplets, etc.) and experience dealing with common special needs such as C-section recovery, premature infants, sleep problems, apnea monitors and infant reflux. A baby nurse is available to answer your practical, non-medical questions about swaddling techniques, bathing your infant, scheduling, feeding and sleep issues.

Night Nurse Services

A night nurse, is a baby nurse who handles the night shift. If the baby is bottle-fed, the role of the night nurse is to allow both parents to get a full night’s rest. If the Mother is breastfeeding, the night nurse will bring the baby to the Mother for feeding and then settle the baby back to sleep. In addition to hands-on newborn care typical night nurse duties include; washing and preparing bottles for feedings and the occasional load of baby laundry as needed. A special note to Multiple Birth Families: The 24 hour demands of twins, triplets and higher order multiples can be overwhelming! The most popular postpartum support person among parents of multiples is the services of a night nurse. Most families hire a night nurse for 3-5 nights a week for the first 2-3 months after the babies arrive. This service is a lifesaver for many sleep deprived Moms and Dads! The typical shift ranges in length from 9-12 hours a night, depending on the needs of each individual family.

Postpartum Doula Services

A postpartum doula has a different role than a night nurse. If you are seeking day time support during the postpartum period, a doula may be just what you’re looking for. A postpartum doula’s role is to serve and support the new mother and help integrate the new baby into the home. A doula is there to ‘mother the mother’ by offering breastfeeding support, cooking a meal, watching older siblings, doing the dishes, running a few loads of laundry or other light housekeeping duties. A postpartum doula is also qualified to teach and answer questions regarding your newborn and offer hands on care for the baby when you need a break.

Who will benefit from a baby nurse or postpartum doula?

Specific types of families who may find baby nurse services beneficial are multiple birth families, mothers recovering from a c-section, older first time parents, duel career families, parents experiencing prolonged sleep deprivation, and parents of a premature infant or other special needs.

Is a baby nurse an RN?

No. A baby nurse is a non-clinical newborn specialist who has extensive, hands-on infant experience. There is currently no nationally recognized certification or training for baby nurses, however, there are nationally recognized doula organizations. Many professional baby nurses have taken postpartum doula training courses. It’s important to find a baby nurse who can offer excellent letters of recommendation as well as proof of appropriate coursework.

When should I contact a baby nurse?

The general rule of thumb is to line up postpartum support early during your second trimester. The risk in waiting too long is twofold: first, you will have fewer options because many baby nurses book several months in advance, and second, your third trimester could be cut short (especially with multiples) so it’s best to line up support early on. Although it’s ideal to book early, baby nurses may be able to accommodate last minute requests so do not allow timing to prevent you from contacting someone.

Editorial provided by Jennifer White, owner of The Modern Baby Nurse of North East Ohio. Ms. White is a CPR certified baby nurse trained through Doula’s of North America.

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