By Melissa Lutzke
When I was pregnant with my daughter and looking for a baby nurse, I found the process daunting. I wasn’t sure where to begin, what questions to ask, and what to even expect once I hired one. After going through the process, meeting many other moms who went through their own searches, and talking with many baby nurses and doulas—I feel much more informed. And now I’d like to pass these tips onto you so you have an easier time getting started.
5 Tips for finding your Baby Nurse
- Start your search as early as you can. Some women book their baby nurses within days of finding out they’re pregnant, so the longer you wait, the fewer available baby nurses there will be. But, if you’re nearing your due date and haven’t booked a baby nurse yet, don’t panic. You can still find someone great—you may just have to dig a little deeper.
- There are a lot of baby nurses in the local New York area, which means that you have flexibility in the hours you want! If you don’t want someone 24/7 then you don’t have to make that type of commitment. She can commute to you for just nights or just days.
- Ask her about her approach to establishing a sleep routine and if you are going to breastfeed, her approach on breastfeeding. Does she advocate for supplementing with formula? When would she suggest introducing the bottle? There are different schools of thought for both sleep and feeding, and even if you don’t fully know what you want to do and how you want to do it, you’ll still get a sense if your thinking aligns.
- When interviewing a baby nurse ask about her family and what she likes to do - it’s the best way to get to know a person and see if you are comfortable with her. And being comfortable with your baby nurse, and feeling like you “click” is extremely important.
- Interview carefully. Evaluate her certifications (which can include Infant Care Specialist, infant CPR, LPN, LVN RN), years of experience and skill level, and find out if this is somebody you are comfortable with.
5 Tips for finding your Doula
- Observe the doula during the interview. Does she listen to you? Does she involve your partner in the conversation? She should do both, and both are important for a positive experience. Do you connect with this person? Will you want her by your side during your labor and delivery, or in the weeks that follow? Will you feel comfortable communicating with her?
- If you’ve already chosen your OB or Midwife and know where you are delivering, find out if the doula you are interviewing has experience working with any of them. Also get a sense if the experiences were positive.
- Determine if your doula has experience with any personal circumstances or goals you may have, and if her philosophies on childbirth or postpartum decisions align with yours. For instance if you are considering an epidural what does she think about that?
- Research whomever you are considering. Check certifications (some include DONA, CAPPA, ICEA, ALACE) and references. Determine how much training she has had, as different certification programs involve varying levels. And especially for a postpartum doula run a background check.
- Don’t ignore your gut feeling. It’s there for a reason, so follow it! And of course research whomever you are considering. Check certifications and references, and run a background check.
Melissa Lutzke is the founder of Mama Views, the largest national review site fully dedicated to providing real parent feedback on baby nurses and doulas. Moms can search based on important criteria like reliability, infant care knowledge and trustworthiness.
In his insightful article, Pádraig Belton highlights the growing popularity of new-age butlers:
"The stereotype of a butler as a lifelong position held by an older man is no longer the case. Many butlers are career changers. With cutbacks in the armed forces, many butlers were previously in military service. There are also a good number of former actors, unsurprising given the element of performance required in the role. The average age of a newly employed butler is 41.
‘Super-butlers’ – those who boast good references from the stateliest hotels or who work for particularly wealthy principals are becoming more and more desired. Whereas regular butler salaries average from $57,000 to $71,000, these super-butlers easily earn $143,000 to $157,000 annually. One such super-butler is John Deery, in his mid-40s and a native of Northern Ireland. Along with planning travel arrangements for his principal, a businessman, and valeting, serving meals, and making sure visas are up to date, Deery manages three of his employer’s properties. One is in the Balkans with 34 staff, there is a London residence with another 12, and a third is being developed.
'You need to know when to be in the background, not too intrusive, very respectful of his time and space to ensure his comfort at all times and that the household runs like clockwork,' Deery says. 'You have to be on your toes, very dedicated, and you don’t have too much of a private life. But I have to say, I love it.'
The butlers of yesteryear may not have approved. But it seems safe to assume that they would, at least, be glad to see their profession flourishing."
To read the full article published by BBC Capital, please click here.
Many thanks to our friends over at Baby Caravan for this guest blog post.
I speak from experience when I say that parents don’t always hire the right baby nurses or newborn care specialists to care for their children. Unfortunately for my first newborn, I made some mistakes with care providers that my second child will never have to deal with because I did all the experimenting and bad decision-making with his brother.
That’s how parenting goes. You live and learn because unfortunately, parenting doesn’t have a training ground and everything is learned on the job. But my hope for you in this blog post is for you to learn from my mistakes so your missteps will be fewer and farther between. So here it goes…
1. Not every care provider was created equally.
There are typically three types of people who can help you after your baby is born and they all have varying degrees of experience, training and rates of pay. Take a few minutes to Google them and find out their training but here is a little summary for you.
A trained professional specializing in the care of the mother while she cares for her baby. Doulas teach mothers how to care for their babies, soothing techniques, personal care for the mother, infant care and can be a tremendous help as you navigate your way through breastfeeding. Some postpartum doulas will also help you fold laundry, tidy up around the house, organize yourself and all your new baby gear, demonstrate how to wear your baby and much more.
Doulas leave mothers feeling confident and secure so they can care for themselves and their entire families. Postpartum doulas are trained and certified, CPR certified and insured. Some are Lactation Counselors, not to be confused with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, but not to be taken lightly. Some doulas sent from the heavens even do overnights!
An experienced woman in newborn care who may or may not have formal training as a Newborn Care Specialist, Registered Nurse (RN) credentials or breastfeeding knowledge or experience. A baby nurse's focus is on the baby and not the mother, though they may have some wonderful tips on infant care. Baby nurses may also go by the term nanny, night nurse or night nanny. Some baby nurses, especially those represented by British American Household Staffing, are higher quality and their baby nurses are trained and have the education to understand the needs of the parents as well as the newborn and infant.
Infant Care Specialist
At times also known as baby nurses and maternity nurses, specialize in infant and newborn care. They typically work either 24-hour or 12-hour shifts during the first three to six months of an infant’s life. A qualified Infant/Newborn Care Specialist will often hold certifications in sleep training, lactation and have experience and training in a variety of areas such as premature births, multiples and twins as well as surrogates. A Newborn Care Specialist will attend to the needs of the mother during recuperation as well as the infant’s development. They may be certified in areas including: breastfeeding, lactation consulting, psychological development, sleep training, bonding, and more.
2. Stick to your guns.
You know what’s right for your baby, not the person you hired. This is your baby and, though your mother’s instinct is always developing, you and your partner know what is best for your baby and how you want to parent your child. Write down what that is, make sure you and your partner are on the same page and stand by your own philosophies.
3. Be prepared for your interview.
I know it’s not easy and I’d be lying if I told you I was ever prepared for an interview with a pediatrician, daycare provider, baby nurse, newborn care specialist, nanny, governess or sitter. But I did my family and myself a disservice. Make a note on your phone or send yourself an email one day while breastfeeding or on the train with notes and questions.
Work backwards by thinking of what you want in a childcare provider and what is most important to you and your family. Once you have a nice little list, think of three questions you would like the interviewee to answer – NOT ones that can be answered with yes or no answers, but with nice long descriptions. If you’re looking for someone who is kind and gentle, ask her to tell you a time she felt her kindness changed someone’s day. You want stories because they will get you to know her better. And don’t assume everyone is just kind and gentle and that’s why they are doing this job. It’s not always true!!
4. Know what you’re looking for.
People love to say “I’ll know it when I see it”. But what if you're very pregnant or you have a newborn or infant and sleep isn’t a thing that you’re doing these days? Have a list, or better yet ask your partner what their list is. This will help get them involved in the process and give you ideas you can build off of or add onto.
5. Develop a contract.
Contracts are not just a formality, they are designed so that everyone is aware of what the other person's expectations are. Most of all, you want to let your caregiver (baby nurse, newborn care specialist, doula, infant care specialist, nanny, governess) know that you take this very seriously. Lastly, writing a contact will help you solidify your needs, wants and expectations.
6. Pay a fair and living wage.
This is an extremely important factor in hiring someone to care for the person you love most dearly in this world. Think of the times you’ve worked for less money than you were worth, or if you never have, ask someone who has and consider yourself VERY lucky. Being paid less than you’re worth feels horrible and living paycheck to paycheck - or not even that - is extremely scary and anxiety producing. Don’t be the person putting someone in that position.
If you have questions or concerns about what the living wage is in your area, MIT designed an amazing Living Wage Calculator to help you with this. You can also take a look at the non-profit agency Hand In Hand who can teach you all you need to know about being a good domestic employer – because that is what you are and thinking of yourself as someone’s employer is a really good start to learning how to treat them right.
7. Last but not least – Go to an agency that has a great reputation.
Finding a good agency with a good reputation and a great online presence can be priceless. The benefit of going this route is that a good agency will get to know who YOU are and what your needs and concerns are. They can then search their pool of trained, certified and insured professionals and set you up with a few people they think you would love.
As about their baby nurses and newborn care specialists - what experience do they have, how are their references, what baby nurse or newborn care qualifications do the baby nurses or newborn care specialists have? When you work with a legitimate business in this way, you know that their reputation is on the line, so they are going to do their best to make sure you’re satisfied. If they have a great web presence, you can read what their mission statement is and make sure it matches with your personality. Read through their reviews and find reviews from baby nurses or newborn care specialists or from parents who possibly hired a baby nurse or infant care specialist or a nanny or governess.
So there you have it, a simple guideline to help guide you through the forest of caregivers. Once you get this down, you’ll be ready for your full education on how to get your child into the right Pre-K. This world of childcare and education is a rocky and murky sea that never seems to end. So, do yourself a favor and find an expert to help you as you continue on your journey.
Baby Nurses, Newborn Care Specialists and Postpartum Doulas are very unique and transformative in the lives of parents and newborns. They typically provide a very calming presence to new parents and allow moms and dads to return to playing the role of Friend, Working Professional, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, etc., that they were afraid of having to give up when they first learned that their family unit was going to expand. The extra support that a Baby Nurse, Newborn Care Specialist or Postpartum Doula can provide will truly change the experience of a new parent from a time of high stress to a period of full enjoyment.
The article below, written for Expectant Mother's Guide, delves further into the details of the role of a newborn care specialist in contrast to a postpartum doula and how they become integrated into a family's life while making the parents feel included and cared for every step of the way.
Baby Nurses & Postpartum Doulas
"Doulas: The Differences and Benefits
As any parent will tell you, a typical newborn/infant is awake and in need of care for several hours every night for at least 3-5 months. In the past, most parents had extended family members to help with this 24-hour schedule, and mothers were able to remain in the birthing center or hospital to recuperate. Today, however, family members are geographically spread out or cannot leave work themselves, and most mothers are not given the chance to properly heal before being sent back home (and back to work!). In order to get the vital sleep needed to care for their family and function at work outside the home, some new parents choose to employ postpartum help such as baby nurses, newborn caregivers or postpartum doulas.
Traditionally, overnight nanny responsibilities have been held by women with the title of baby nurse. Usually this was family member or well-respected woman in the community. By today’s modern standards, however, a baby nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) with specific training in the clinical and practical care of newborns and infants. Further, in many states the term “baby nurse” can only be used legally if the person practicing this profession is an actual RN or LPN.
For individuals who have experience in newborn care but do not hold specific medical licenses, the term newborn care specialist is now used. However, state and national licenses for the care of 1-3 children do not exist, so there is no certification or monitoring of individuals who use this title. The extent of the caregiver’s experience can vary widely.
A baby nurse performs all tasks related to baby’s well-being. While they are required to keep the child’s room orderly and clean, they do not perform household duties. The role of the baby nurse includes: bottle feeding, diapering, changing linens, changing clothing and soothing the child through the night. An important component of this care is holding baby upright for 20-30 minutes after feeding, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For parents who choose to use formula at night, 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep is typical. For mothers who exclusively breastfeed, a baby nurse can use expressed breast milk in a bottle, or bring the child to mother. The nurse then provides all other care for baby by burping, soothing, changing and easing baby back to sleep. For breastfeeding moms this means an average of 2-3 extra hours per night of sleep.
With both clinical and practical experience, the baby nurse helps the whole family. Knowing baby is in capable, nurturing hands just as s/he was in the hospital nursery, mothers get the deep restorative sleep their bodies need to recuperate from the emotional and physical demands of childbirth. For mothers who work outside the home and stay-at-home moms alike, baby nurses allow for proper rest so she can be present and effective during the day. New dads and partners benefit in these same ways.
Siblings also benefit from baby nurses. Parents can be available to comfort older children when they inevitably wake up during the night as they adjust to new baby sounds and activity. Toddlers in particular, who cannot yet articulate their feelings and may be confused, need extra parental comfort as they adjust to life with the new little one. For families with twins or more, overnight help allows parents to bond with each child individually or simply have relief from the demanding feeding schedule of multiple babies.
For the babies themselves of course, the baby nurse allows their needs to be met quickly and lovingly by a professional pediatric caregiver. The nurse does not replace family, rather she is another nurturing presence caring for and monitoring the child. For this reason, she often becomes regarded as “one of the family.”
The role of the postpartum doula is to be available to all members of the family as they transform into a new family unit. While it is true that the doula “mothers the mother,” assisting mom with anything she needs to be able to care for the child, she also tends to siblings, and provides support to fathers and partners. According to Doulas of North America (DONA), “The doula provides non-medical support and companionship, assists with newborn care and sibling adjustment, meal preparation and household organization.” A doula will not exclusively care for baby overnight, rather she will provide whatever the family needs to take care of themselves as well as their newest member. Her role is to support the family unit as much as needed.
While doulas do not perform medical tasks or clinical care, a large part of their role is to provide evidence-based education for families. They assist with instruction about baby care, breastfeeding and teaching other family members how to take care of mother. Additionally, the doula provides fathers and partners with support. This can mean providing gentle support with early bonding and questions, or simply listening to the new parent’s concerns.
Required to have contact information for at least 45 outside care resources such as La Leche League, postpartum support groups or other parent organizations, the doula is also a vital source of information if needed. It is important to note that the doula does not judge or take a position on any parenting decisions. Rather she helps to provide a calm, encouraging environment for families to find their own path as they journey into their new family dynamic.
The times a doula works with a family vary greatly. She may live-in, work during the day or provide care overnight. Since a large part of the doula’s scope of care is to help the family discover self-confidence in their child and family care abilities, there is no exact timeframe to use a doula. The goal is that as families grow more confident, the need for a doula’s care naturally diminishes. Because of the positive, nurturing impact of a doula, she is oftentimes regarded as a member of the family.
The type of care parents select as they evolve into a new family unit is a deeply personal choice. Whether it is family or church members, a baby nurse or postpartum doula, good outside help can contribute to the overall well being of the family. Each of these caregivers gives new parents the gift of health, rest and peace of mind."
Having a baby nurse is a luxury that allows parents to feel knowledgeable, confident, in control, and fully equipped to welcome a new member into the household. Baby nurses act as live-in consultants who are accessible 24 hours a day. They come with a wealth of knowledge on infant products, feeding and sleep schedules, swaddling, infant development and can answer any questions a new or overwhelmed parent might have. Most importantly, baby nurses work with families during the first few weeks or months of a newborn’s life, an incredibly crucial stage of physical, emotional, and cognitive development. One area baby nurses specialize in is sleep training, the benefits of which are seen throughout childhood and can help a child grow into a more structured and settled adult.
Although baby nurses are able to provide full charge care, they are always encouraging of parental involvement and never limit a parent’s desire to be hands-on. With a truly experienced and professional baby nurse’s expertise, new moms and dads are able to receive all the postpartum help necessary while being able to get enough rest to really enjoy all of the excitement their new bundle of joy brings. The article below, written for NY Metro Parents, delves further into the details of a baby nurse's role and integration into a family.
Should You Hire A Baby Nurse?
"If this is your first pregnancy stop worrying about labor and giving birth. The real exhaustion of childbirth comes afterwards; even if you have a perfectly normal delivery, expect at least a two-week recovery period. Not only will you not feel well, you will have a little baby to take care of and probably limited experience with newborns. Many New York couples survive this time and enjoy their child's first few weeks of life with the help of a baby nurse.
What is a baby nurse and what does one do? She is an experienced nanny with training in newborn skills. She is responsible for the care of your baby 24 hours a day. She will get up for nighttime feedings while the new mother gets her much needed rest. If the baby is breastfeeding, the nurse will get up with the new mother, help position the baby, and carry him back and forth.
A baby nurse will do the baby's laundry everyday and help with light housekeeping and snacks. She will teach you to change diapers, bathe, and feed the baby, or she will do it all for you. She will answer your questions. She will hold the baby throughout the day providing security and affection when you need a break. She will keep you company, or disappear when you want to be alone with your new family.
When interviewing a potential baby nurse, tell her your expectations. One friend who stops pregnant women on the street to recommend her baby nurse said she wanted to feel like a Victorian lady. She wanted her little one brought to her clean, fed and ready to sleep on her lap. She wanted the baby taken away to be changed and brought back in a fresh, new little outfit.
Baby nurses take a tremendous burden off new fathers who may not feel capable of providing the nurturing a new baby and recovering wife need. If a husband can't take time off from work, he knows he is not leaving his wife to fend for herself.
Can't Mom help? Your mother or mother-in-law may be selflessly offering to stay with you as long as you need at no cost to you. Is it wise in your postpartum emotional state to have the woman who told you what to do your whole life living with you? If you think a baby nurse will intimidate you or force her childrearing ways on you, it won't compare to what your mother can do, - this is her grandchild. If you don't like the idea of a stranger knowing your family business, remember that she leaves in two weeks and doesn't have any stake in your life.
If your relationship with your mother or mother-in-law is such that you have no problem with her staying with you, by all means graciously accept her help. If this is her first grandchild, you may find a completely different woman in your house.
When you have family help, you will be open to receiving visitors or risk hurting someone's feelings. But you may not feel like being seen or you may want to spend at least the first week enjoying your new immediate family. You probably don't want a lot of people holding your baby, but if you have visitors you will oblige them. Avoid the situation altogether. Tell everyone, including grandparents, you'll see them next week.
The doula option Depending on what you expect of your childbirth experience, you may consider hiring a doula. - a woman who provides the mother with support before, during and after childbirth. She will help you come up with a birth plan and be in the delivery room with you if you want. Most New York area doulas, however, specialize in the postpartum period. They offer the new mother guidance and encouragement. Some are even lactation specialists. The idea is to nurture the new mother, they do not take care of your baby.
The duties of a baby nurse are more flexible. She can offer you advice and teach you parenting skills. If you are too tired or too overwhelmed to learn anything, take advantage of the nurse's willingness to take care of your baby while you recover.
So how do you find a baby nurse? Everyone I asked said through word-of-mouth. Ask couples with kids in New York City. Someone will have used one. Most nanny agencies can help you find a baby nurse; some specialize in them.
Every pregnancy is different and you can't predict what kind of recovery you will have. Hiring a baby nurse is like buying an insurance policy. It can ensure that you and your baby come home to a calm environment where you can enjoy every moment as a new family."