Whether you’re expecting your first baby or your fifth, hiring a maternity nurse can have a profound impact on adjusting to life with your new addition (or additions!). From setting up the nursery to establishing a routine to simply giving you the space and freedom to wash your hair (or even better – catch up on some sleep!), a maternity nurse can be a truly invaluable source of practical and physical support in those first few weeks.
What is a maternity nurse?
A maternity nurse is a postnatal specialist and carer who typically stays overnight for a period of time to help support you and your baby as you adjust to motherhood. Their expertise spans all elements of newborn care, from feeding and sleep patterns to giving advice on common newborn issues while their duties can encompass tidying the nursery, breastfeeding or bottle feeding support and prep, laundry for the baby and providing advice and counsel for various aspect of new born care.
How to chose the right maternity nurse?
A maternity nurse should be warm, calm and knowledgeable. You should feel completely trusting of whoever you hire, so never be afraid to ask difficult questions or see copies of their qualifications. A good maternity nurse will be expecting you to want reassurance and will be happy to share names and numbers of references as well.
It’s a good idea to ask them about their approach, their opinions on different practices, their previous experience and what they like about the job, not only to see how they answer but to see how you get on with them in general. After all, open communication and respect are paramount when dealing with a baby, and although the relationship is a professional one, the intimate nature of sharing your home, family and all those postpartum ups and downs, mean that it’s inevitably a personal relationship too – so make sure you feel comfortable talking to them.
What else should I ask them?
When interviewing potential candidates, it’s important to determine what they believe to be best practice when it comes to caring for newborns. Some may be strictly-routine focused and others may lean towards a “baby led” approach. At the end of they day, any maternity nurse should follow the wishes of the family explicitly unless this conflicts with NHS guidelines or it puts the baby, family or themselves at risk.
Ultimately, as in any profession, no two maternity nurses are the same and the right maternity nurse for you and your family is all down to personal choice.
How long does a maternity nurse stay with you for?
Usually a maternity nurse is hired for the first few months after the arrival of a new baby, but each contract is different. Many maternity nurses work daytime hours or stay over night (to give you that much needed deep sleep). Others are available for 24-hour support. You can decide what will work best for you and your routine.
It’s worth remembering that the majority of maternity nurses are self-employed and are paid a gross hourly rate or a 24-hour rate (including a 4 hour break which is often taken in the morning). Maternity nurses are then responsible for their own tax and National Insurance. Each maternity nurse sets their own rates and these are reflective of their experience and qualifications but also take into account things like location and the number of babies they are caring for.
What are the benefits of hiring a maternity nurse?
There are many advantages to hiring a maternity nurse. Predominately, you can feel more supported as you begin your motherhood experience. You will have an extra pair of hands to help with everything from laundry to bottle sterilisation to cleaning and bathing your baby or babies and another pair of expert ears to ask any questions of as things crop up.
It can be very reassuring to have someone there who is experienced with newborns and the challenges it can bring. They’ll be able to offer you their insight and make suggestions to help you and your baby to thrive.
A maternity nurse often works at night as well which means they can take over feeding duties or can ease the process by bringing your baby to you for a feed. This kind of additional support means you can get more sleep – and every minute counts! Sleep is vital for your own postpartum recovery and wellbeing and can help you to feel more in control and bonded with your baby.
Is a maternity nurse right for me?
Although they can be immensely helpful, hiring a maternity nurse isn’t for everyone. Not everybody feels comfortable having someone in their home, and many women prefer to enlist the help of their own friends and family for support. Of course the practical elements of space and money mean that hiring a maternity nurse is not always a possibility, but if you do need more support there are often trainee maternity nurses looking to gain supervised work experience (in exchange for travel and sustenance fees), so this may be an alternative avenue you can try.
Where can I find a reputable one?
Maternity nurses are often registered with agencies so a good place to start your search is by contacting local maternity nursing and nannying agencies in your area. There’ll often be a finders fee but each maternity nurse is carefully vetted and you can be confident of their character too.
Not sure if a maternity nurse is right for you? Want support but want to be in control? Want to have a professional on hand but remotely to support you through the ups and downs of new motherhood?
Find out more about my 1:1 Maternity Journey Coaching Package here.