Baby Nurse or Postpartum Doula?
First of all, what is the difference between a night postpartum doula and baby nurse?
Years ago, and sometimes today, one might hear the term “baby nurse” being used to describe the person who helps a newborn’s family at night. Typically, these baby nurses are non-medically trained individuals who specialize in infant care and development. Most often these baby nurses are not registered nurses, nor do they possess any medical background. The few who do will usually make a point to specify so.
Other terms for a baby nurse would include night nurse, night nanny, or newborn care specialist. All three are used interchangeably to describe someone who specializes in the care of a newborn. These baby nurses have been around for many years. Years ago women who couldn’t breastfeed used a baby nurse or wet nurse to feed their babies. The wet nurses were with the baby 24/7 and would help care for the newborn until weaning.
In modern society many families still use a baby nurse/ night nanny or newborn care specialist. Not necessarily for nursing, but for day/night newborn care during the early months of infancy. Additionally, postpartum doulas have become an increasingly popular choice for both day and night care because of the expanded role they play.
So, what makes a postpartum night doula any different than a baby nurse?
There are a few areas where night postpartum doulas differ. A postpartum doula is still a trained individual who specializes in newborn care and development, as well as all things newborn related. They are able to perform all things necessary to take excellent care of your precious newborn babe day or night, just as the baby nurse/night nurse of old. Where we differ is that our training and our focus does not end with newborn care, but includes postpartum mother and family care as well!
The list of our duties includes such tasks as:
Providing assistance with breastfeeding when needed.
Providing a wealth of information and care regarding postpartum-specific issues and challenges the birth mother may face.
If mom is pumping, the doula can assist, making sure the milk is properly stored and the pump is washed and ready for use the next session
Access to the doula via phone/text/email to answer infant care or postpartum care questions
Postpartum doulas are also a wealth of resources about issues pertaining to the postpartum time and can provide referrals for many issues
Night postpartum doulas can also help with family laundry or other simple household chores if time permits (meaning baby is sleeping).
Who uses a postpartum night doula?
Postpartum night doulas are used for any different reasons and for many different families:
– Families with multiples that need some night time support to be able to get some rest. Having multiples is challenging and finding time to rest in the day or night is hard.
– Families that do not have local family support- many of our clients are from out of town or the country or don’t have family they can count on
– Mothers that have has a cesarean birth- the first few weeks after delivery can be rough as mom recovers from pregnancy & surgery. Lifting baby up and down as well as stairs can be physically exhausting
– Parents that need to get back to work quickly and need to get some solid sleep time at night
– Mothers that just have a high sleep need. Some of us just need more sleep than others and getting a long stretch at night is just what you need to be functional.
– Families that are prone to depression and anxiety. It’s a well known fact that lack of sleep exacerbates both conditions.
– Those needing and wanting breastfeeding / pumping support. When you are tired and trying to establish breastfeeding, it’s nice to have a free set of hands, as well as our support to help on your breastfeeding journey.
– Families with other children. Let’s face it, often times, the older children are ready to go bright and early, and parents do not have time throughout the day to catch up on sleep.
A postpartum night doula will not only take wonderful care of your newborn, but also the mother throughout the night. Baby nurses / night nurses are great as well, but do not offer the additional postpartum mother, household or breastfeeding/ pumping support some desire.