5 Mothers On Hiring A Postpartum Doula or Nurse
The amount of help that’s provided by your tribe after giving birth differs from mother to mother. But one thing most mamas have in common is that some sense of help is incredibly valuable - even if that means looking back wishing you had more. From a friend coming over to let you shower to a more full-time option in the form of childcare, the choices are endless. Today, 6 mothers are giving their take on hiring a night nurse/doula, and whether they found it necessary for their family. Plus, what advice they’d give after having one.
(We wanted to provide an honest opinion from one mother who decided against them, hence the sixth voice.)
Kelli, mother of two, Interior Designer
With my oldest, I did not want any postpartum help. I was determined to do it on my own. With that said, I should have absolutely accepted more help as it would have helped me heal from a semi-dramatic delivery.
Second time around, I got ahead of the game and had a night nurse in place for a few nights a week. My husband travels, so we’d use her on those nights. I could not financially justify every night but when she came it was worth EVERY penny. It was that one or two nights to look forward to and get me through the remainder of the week. Especially at the beginning.
Our night nurse was a caring grandmother type. She was referred to us by a very picky friend, so I didn't have to do much of the hard work because I already knew she would be fabulous. All in all, I just had a gut feeling that she was going to be wonderful. She was sweet, caring and extremely attentive, with a ton of experience with babies and toddlers.
It is weird having someone in your house while you are sleeping. It took some getting used to for sure, but I almost felt more at peace knowing someone was awake staring at my baby all night and making sure every ounce of her was OK. I didn't breast feed at night, so I never had to deal with someone waking me up or coming into my room - that may have been a little weird for me.
Communication is key. The first few times, I didn’t really know what to expect but she was amazing and asked me the right questions to ensure I was comfortable. I had her take notes throughout the night so I knew exactly when the baby was fed, how much she ate, how long she was awake and how long she slept. She would do the dishes too, so I could come down in the AM with all clean bottles. She would also throw any dirty onesies, blankets or burp clothes in the wash.
Overall, I would say there really wasn't much that didn't work!
Arielle, mother of two, Consultant
While I wasn't sure about the necessity of a baby nurse for #2, it's actually been even more essential to allow us all the space to adjust to life with another baby. First time around, it was more about learning to care for an infant from the baby nurse, and this time it's about making sure baby is attended to, and giving mom & dad the extra time (and sleep!) to be with big bro. It has been a lifesaver!!
Hannah, mother of one, Retail
I decided to use a baby nurse because my family doesn't live in town and my husband is out of town traveling constantly. I do realize having a baby-nurse is a true luxury, so I definitely feel grateful that we are able to afford/invest in such a service.
I found my baby-nurse through my closest friend, but received references from many other friends. I ultimately ended up deciding to go with my choice because my best friend adored her and I knew that I trusted her insight.
I think my biggest takeaway is to be open and upfront about your preferences and communicate constantly. A good baby nurse will be respectful of your space and open to honest/transparent feedback. That being said, they spend a ton of hours with you and I think prioritizing giving yourself space at times can be helpful.
I was lucky to trust our baby nurse wholeheartedly and I genuinely feel she taught me to be a mother. I tried to ask a ton of questions and not be afraid to have her explain things to me multiple times. Her insight and advice has influenced howI am as a mother in the most positive way!
Alex, Mother to one, Founder
I have learned that the care YOU receive after pregnancy and birth is most vital to the transition into motherhood. When my son was born four years ago, I did not set up a postpartum support system and I didn't have anyone knocking my door down insisting to care for me in the most basic ways - helping me get sleep, eat healthy foods, get out the door, shower, and helping me stay sane. It's really hard to do this all on your own when your hands are physically full. You're going through all of the postpartum emotions, and you're physically going through so many changes.
Having gone through the transition into motherhood without support, I would not recommend it. Be open to support, ask for support, hire support...whatever you need to do so that YOU are being cared for. We teach our children to ask for help when they need it. The same goes for us mothers, and there should be no shame or guilt when asking and receiving help.
Laura, Mother to three, Interior Designer
Right before we had our third child, we went back and forth about hiring a night nurse. All of our friends who have used them absolutely swear by it. Hearing their stories about the extra sleep in those early weeks and the peace of mind they had knowing someone was attentively watching their child sounded incredible. My husband was 100% for it, and in all honesty, there was every reason in the world why we should have hired one. In fact, people thought I was crazy for even debating it with a four year old and two year old already at home. However, even after seeing all the pros outweighing the cons, l came to the decision that a night nurse wasn’t for me.
Let me preface this first by saying everyone should do what is best for them. I respect all my friends who have had them. I know firsthand how much it helped them during those early days. I can only speak for myself and my reasons for not hiring one, which were...
One, I have a husband who was fortunate enough to be given a very long paternity leave along with immediate family and very dear friends who lived close by. Two, I was blessed to have healthy, and in the scheme of things, very easy babies. And three, my main reason, was that I knew those exhausting middle-of-the-night feedings and intense sleep deprivation would all come to an end. And when it did, I knew that some part of me would miss those one-on-one moments I had with my baby in the wee hours.
My last reason seems crazy to a lot of people, but it personally made me feel like a mom warrior. In some sense it made me feel accomplished. Even though I looked like hell and felt like hell, I got through it and I knew I could do it. And sure enough, once all my kids started sleeping through the night, a part of me missed those 2 a.m. snuggles.
So how did we survive without one?
With our first child, my husband Jeff and I would both get up every time she woke up. I would nurse her and Jeff would be in charge of changing the diaper and putting her back down. It made me feel like we were both equally going through sleep torture and there was some comfort in knowing we were both suffering. In theory that sounded nice, but after the first week neither of us could function and we had to reassess our plan.
What eventually worked for us was the good old divide and conquer plan. I would go to bed early and Jeff would stay up and be in charge of putting her down for the night. Then starting around midnight when those two-hour feedings kick into gear, I would be the only one waking up to do the routine (diapers, feeding, burp and back to bed). However, once the sun was up (starting at 5:30am/6am) when the baby or kiddos woke up, Jeff was tapped back in and remained on duty until I was rested enough to get out of bed (usually around 9 a.m.).
This routine especially worked for us once we had more than one kid to attend to. I was confident Jeff had morning duty under control, and as long as I had those few hours in the morning to catch up on sleep, I was able to get up and start my day as a (semi) functioning person.
Things to expect if you go this route: You are going to be exhausted. Your husband will likely piss you off way more then usual (especially when he says he’s tired). You will feel accomplished when you shower and put on real clothes. It will be over before you know it! I promise that you won’t be waking up every two hours until your child goes away to college (even though it seems like it those first weeks).
Daniella, Mother to One, Actress
Here’s the thing about baby nurses. These ladies are pros! They know what they’re doing when it comes to babies. But no one is Mommy. Even a first time Mommy.
“Even” haha. I say “even” because doctors, consultants, nannies, in laws and you guessed it, baby nurses, will tell the first time mom that she doesn’t know. And to some extent that’s true. But for the most part, babies need milk, warmth and LOVE, and most mommies have that in spades.
I had three baby nurses. The first was a nightmare who broke my confidence. I’d rather not talk about her.
The second, Patsy, cared for me and my tender boobs as much as she did baby Ness. She was soft and loving and cared for Ness overnight. I would breastfeed then pump and she topped him off with a supplemented formula bottle, swaddle him and put him back to sleep. In the morning, she’d stick around long enough to make sure I was showered, rested and well-fed. I loved her so much I would have kept her on forever, but she was faaaaaancy and got swept away by high-paying power parents.
The third was her friend Tessa, who occasionally came in to give Dan and me a break. We weren’t willing to CIO and I was still nursing-pumping-supplementing (for anyone who’s gone down that path, you know how exhausting it can be physically and otherwise). Tessa was adament that I not bother baby Ness during the night so that he could learn how to self soothe. Once, before I went to bed I headed toward the nursery to peak on my little love. She stopped me, warning me in her feisty Jamaican accent, “You go in there, I’ll break your legs”. I wish I could tell you that I turned around and asked her to pack up her things right then and there. But I didn’t. I guess I didn’t have the self esteem or the rest I needed at the time.
1. KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOUR HOME, YOUR BABY + THE HELP YOU BRING ON. They know how THEY do things. Not how YOU do things. Even if this is your first time around, YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
2. I found the best help was the overnight stretch and once the baby is one month old since baby boo is so, so sleepy right out the gate. Nature really knows how to ramp things up day by day. I didn’t really like having someone around during the day but I also didn’t have a toddler running around so...
3. Make sure you like this person. It would be nice if she was a team player, cooked and cleaned (Patsy made some serious Jamaican treats!), and knew when to give you space (nightmare baby nurse #1 listened to my calls with friends and commented afterwards on how I should just listen to her and no one else. She’d laugh at my mommy buds.) This lady will be your roommate and confident. This is sacred shit, you guys. No settling, aiight?!