Should You Hire a Night Nurse?

When I was pregnant with my twins, several in-the-know twin Mamas told me I should consider hiring a night nurse once they were born. While it sounded awesome, it seemed like such a huge expense for something I thought my husband and I could handle on our own. As my due date approached though, and I started to think more about double night-feedings and burpings and all of the crying, I began to reconsider. So we talked to a night nurse that my friend had used, and hired her to start on the day I brought my babies home from the hospital.

Let me tell you, she was a godsend! Not only was she an extra body to help me with feedings and burpings, but she was so knowledgeable about every cry, every squirm, every hurdle. She knew exactly what to do, and showed us exactly what to do. It was like having a baby coach! And when I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion (or have a nervous breakdown), she would take over so I could get a long stretch of sleep. It was expensive, but it was amazing, and I felt so grateful that we were able to have her for several weeks. A few months later, my husband started traveling again for work, so I would occasionally get a night nurse then as well for the extra help.

Are you considering a night nurse for your baby? I will tell you, it doesn’t make you any less of a Mom to get the help when you need it. Here are some things to consider…

1. Can you afford it? Night nurses are incredibly expensive, usually charging around $200 per night, according to Care.com. So, it adds up fast. If it is in your budget though, even if it’s a stretch, it may be worth it for your own health and happiness, and that of your baby.

2. Are you having multiples? I was having twins, so I absolutely needed another set of hands on deck to help out during those first few weeks. If these are your first babies, let me tell you, it’s really hard. I was breastfeeding and supplementing with formula, so feedings involved tandem breastfeeding, followed by bottle feeding of breast milk, and a formula top-off. Then, I would go and pump for 20 minutes. It was intense! Granted, I had trouble producing enough milk for two babies, so my feedings were more challenging, but it’s hard with two newborns regardless. I needed the night nurse to help prepare bottles, to burp one baby while I burped another, and to put them back down while I was pumping. Her assistance was especially crucial when my husband went back to work and needed his own sleep.

3. Does your partner travel a lot? A few months after my babies were born, my husband started traveling again for his job, and would sometimes be gone for an entire workweek. My babies were up every three to four hours, so when I was alone, I would only be getting two hours of sleep at a time. It was exhausting! So we hired a night nurse to come for a night or two during those stretches, so I could catch up on sleep. When she came, she would bottle feed the babies at night, and I would get a full eight hours to replenish my energy.

4. Do you feel generally clueless about babies? Night nurses are baby experts, and some have even completed a training program to become newborn care specialists. If you have very little experience with babies, you might appreciate having a night nanny around to teach you about baby care, and even give some tips on feeding and bathing and sleep. She can also help guide you through challenges from gas to full-blown colic.

5. Are you okay with having a non-family member in your home? As much as I loved our baby nurse, there were definitely moments when I wanted my space back. If you already have issues with people up in your business, you may not love having someone up in the most personal business of all: baby care. For a 12-hour stretch, this nanny will be in the nursery with your baby, or chilling on your sofa, so you need to decide if you’re comfortable with that.

6. Are you planning on exclusively breastfeeding? If you’re taking a breast-only approach with your baby, you may think you don’t need a night nurse, but she can still help. You may decide to have her bring you your baby while you stay in bed. Then after you’ve fed him, she can take him back, and do the diaper change and swaddle.

7. Are you sleep-deprived to the point that it’s debilitating? As I mentioned, my twins woke up every few hours for feedings until they were about two or three months old. I was so damned tired, that one day, while I was driving with them in the car, I ran right through a stop sign. I realized that if I didn’t get some sleep, I was actually going to endanger my babies. Not only that, but I was also starting to go a little nuts. Sleep is rare when you have young babies, and a lack of it can contribute to baby blues and full-on postpartum depression. If you feel like you just can’t take it anymore, you may seriously want to consider hiring a baby nurse, just so you can get a good night’s sleep. One or two nights of energy replenishing sleep can seriously be a lifesaver.

Photo: Getty