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So, what is a night nurse anyway? We get asked this a lot! “Newborn nanny” or “baby nurse” or “night nurse” or “newborn care specialist “refers to a childcare provider who specializes in caring for newborns. They may or may not have any medical training, maternal/child health training or certification, so it’s always a good idea to ask. A postpartum doula, who provides care during the day, evening or overnight, is also skilled in “mothering the mother” as well as providing evidence-based support for your newborn.

#1 Sleep for you AND your baby

A good night’s sleep may feel like it’s a long way away when you bring home your new baby. Your overnight doula can help with feedings,help your baby resettle and meet any physical needs such as diaper changes. She is skilled with a “fussy baby.” She can help establish an effective bedtime routine and organize the nursery to optimize your infant’s sleep environment. She can observe your baby’s sleep cues and patterns and work with you to develop solutions designed to make the most of your baby’s rhythms.

Are you sorting out sleep theories—do you Ferberize or are you an attachment parent? A trained doula will work with you to support your philosophy.

A lack of sleep can also contribute to baby blues and postpartum depression.

AND a good night’s rest means that new parents can have some quality time together!

#2 Assistance with feeding

For those first few months, your baby will need to be regularly fed day and night. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your overnight doula can help by bringing your baby to you. After your baby has been fed, she can soothe and settle them so you can relax and get right back to sleep. If you’re pumping, she can feed the baby while you pump. She can take care of storing the pumped milk, cleaning and sanitizing pump parts, and bottles, so you can pump and then get back to sleep more quickly. And if you’re formula-feeding, she will follow your preferences about preparing bottles, feedingyour baby and sterilizing bottles.

Questions about how feeding is going? Ask your doula! She can provide evidence-based education, guidance and support. She can also point you in the right direction if you need more expert care such as a lactation visit from a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

#3 Support for your postpartum recovery

A postpartum doula is also there to “mother the mother” and she can provide expert support during your recovery. Your body is recovering from the experience of birth and hormones are fluctuating. If you’ve had a c-section, there will be more restrictions about what you can do in the first few weeks. Your doula will be a research-based resource and a stable presence in your home while you recover. She is tuned in to the physical and emotional changes of the postpartum time. She can assist with feeds to help prevent discomfort, help you get the rest you need to heal, perform household tasks that won’t wake you or your baby, have breakfast ready for you in the morning and be a listening ear and a resource for processing your birth experience.

#4 Avoid risks associated with sleep deprivation, unmanaged stress and overwhelm that every new parent experiences

Calming middle of the night nerves that come up at 2am, answering questions and knowing you can relax because your overnight doula is there to help.

The baby blues can affect up to 80% of new moms within the first two weeks following the birth. Your overnight doula can help you get a good night’s rest knowing that your baby is being cared for by an expert. She can be a trusted source to talk with about how you are feeling. She can also help with referrals if you think you may be experiencing a postpartum mood disorder.

#5 Make tomorrow run more smoothly 

Your doula can fold laundry, sterilize and prepare bottles and pump parts,pack the diaper bag, address birth announcements…anything that doesn’t make too much noise! And she can get you breakfast in the morning to start your day with feeling nourished.

#6 Address a particular situation or concern

Complications from birth, a preterm or ill baby returning home from the NICU, twins, triplets…your doula is a skilled provider and a valuable resource for you and your little one(s).

#7 Returning to work ready to work!

Your overnight postpartum doula cantruly be a blessing during your back-to-work transition. She can answer questions about pumping and milk storage, prep the baby’s bag for daycare, take care of light housework and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel rested and be ready to be productive from your first day back at work.

#8 Filling a gap in support

If you are a single parent or your partner travels frequently, or you don’t have any family in the area, an overnight doula can be that expert and friendly extra set of hands.

Here at Birthways Chicago, we are “postpartum doulas” who provide any of the services that a night nurse, newborn nanny, baby nurse or newborn specialist provides but our training, depth of experience and expertise is much more expansive. Whatever our clients might call us, we are their invaluable support with the adjustment that a new baby brings to their lives!