I still cringe when I remember how I felt when I confessed to my NCT mums, 4 weeks after my first was born, that I had a maternity nurse at home.
It was awkward. And it was made all the worse when one mother exclaimed “That’s cheating!”. My worst fears confirmed.
I went home with my tail between my legs, doubting my decision. Did it make me less of a mother? Was I really cheating?
My husband had made the suggestion way before our baby was born, but I felt it wasn’t for us – an unnecessary extravagance reserved for people with different parenting goals.
I could not have been more wrong, though. Three weeks into motherhood and I was scrambling around interviewing maternity nurses.
Ours swooped in like my very own Mary Poppins and helped me more than I could have anticipated.
Saying ‘Maternity Nurse’ feels like uttering two dirty little words, and when we got our Mary Poppins back with my second baby I faked nonchalance when I chatted to other mums about it.
When it come to maternity nurses the truth is that there are as many advantages as there are disadvantages, and just as many misconceptions.
Here we break them down to five pros and cons:
- Most maternity nurses come with a wealth of experience and some great advice. Many don’t have their own children, therefore how can they know better? Even if they’re not mothers, after looking after dozens of babies over their career they’ve probably seen it all, and have looked after many more newborns than you or I. Some bring with them specific areas of expertise like breastfeeding, twins, preemies, Gina Ford routines etc so they can cater specifically to your needs.
- It’s completely up to you how involved you want your maternity nurse to be. My son was already 4 weeks old when ours came to stay so he stayed in our room at night. Your maternity nurse can be more involved during the day, and on call at night should you need her. If you prefer to have your baby in your room you can always choose to have them in the maternity nurse’s room a couple of nights so you can catch up on some much-needed sleep. Anything goes!
- If you’re struggling to introduce a routine maternity nurses can help. They’ve been there and done that countless times. They know the cues and the tricks and can leave you feeling more confident going about your daily life.
- Maternity nurses are flexible. They can work 24 hours, a shift of 7am-7pm, or 7pm-7am. They can stay with you for two days, or six months. It’s completely up to you.
- Those first few weeks can be lonely, particularly once your partner has gone back to work. Many of us don’t have family nearby on whom generations before ours relied upon for support. This can also be said for doulas, private midwives, nannies, au pairs and very good friends. However, maternity nurses come with all the above.
- It can be a very expensive option. Maternity nurses don’t come cheap. It does depend on whether they’re with your family all day or just nights and, of course, for how long. Some will cook, clean and help look after older siblings, and that will be reflected in their daily rate. Some people decide to invest in a night maternity nurse a handful of times to help settle some of that sleep debt. Nevertheless, however it’s packaged, they do not come cheap!
- As well as trying to settle a brand new little human being into your home and family life you’ll also have to make adjustments for the maternity nurse. Unless you know them from before they will be strangers in the majority of cases, so you’ll need to get to know them too. You might be sharing meal times (and catering for specific tastes), sharing down time and providing an extra sleeping area if you don’t have a spare room.
- All maternity nurses are different. Some are strict about routine, and others are more relaxed. Some feel they need to take over, others don’t. If you don’t interview extensively and ask the right questions, and even if you do, you could end up with someone who doesn’t fit the bill. They may end up being someone you simply don’t get on with. This could lead to some very awkward conversations, and added stress you could do without.
- Not everyone will have a positive reaction to maternity nurses, and they may want to tell you so.
- Having another person present in those precious first few weeks, and potentially being more involved than you had anticipated, could delay the all-important bonding between parents and their baby, and between the parents themselves. There is something to be said for working as a team and experiencing this new adventure as a family, and experiencing how it can make bonds stronger.
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