Postpartum Support: My Plans to Hire a Night Nurse
Being a new parent is much harder than I ever could have imagined. And the postpartum period is just a lot. It’s incredible and emotional and beautiful, too. But I’ve yet to meet a mother who actually enjoys every moment. I had zero help the first 4 and 10 months …
Being a new parent is much harder than I ever could have imagined. And the postpartum period is just a lot. It’s incredible and emotional and beautiful, too. But I’ve yet to meet a mother who actually enjoys every moment. I had zero help the first 4 and 10 months with my first two babies. But we’re doing things differently this time. I debated sharing my decision to hire help at night, but always want to be upfront about how I handle life, motherhood, and work. Giving you the impression I can do it all when I most certainly cannot (and don’t want to!) wouldn’t be fair.
The newborn stage is as exhausting as it is sweet. It’s constant, you’re sleep deprived, and if you delivered your baby, you’re recovering physically, too. Whenever I did hire help, it was during work hours only. Until I left my old company and no longer “had to” be at a desk x amount of hours a week. I now know that it’s not only ok, but crucial, to take care of myself, too.
It is my hope that I can help take away the shame or stigma in asking for or hiring help.
Postpartum Support: My Plans to Hire a Night Nurse
Hiring help is expensive and the decision to do so was not an easy one for me. But giving yourself a break and considering your specific needs, from meal preparation and light cleaning to baby care and overnight support is always a good idea if you are in a position to do so. Every family has different needs, and I really struggled with knowing what our needs would be. The needs of the family change after a new baby, so when would we need help most? It’s important to find someone who might be able to be flexible as you figure things out during those early days.
Planning for a Night Nurse
And I’m not speaking from experience (yet) but have only heard how “worth it” it is, even with the high cost. I was back and forth for months. If it’s something you really want, you could plan for it, or start a fund in lieu of baby shower gifts. Relying on family members for help can be great if that’s an option, but this level of expert help seems like something you’d need to pay for. Even just 1-2 nights of sleep a week would be a game changer when sleep deprived. Prices were sort of all over the place, averaging in the $30s but up to $40 per hour. We are paying $27 / hour for a night nurse who came recommended by a friend.
Whenever I seem like I have my life remotely together (not sure how often that is) I get asked how I do it all. And the answer is always the same. I don’t.
I have a very involved partner, an incredible part-time nanny, another wonderful woman who helps clean our home once a week, and my 4 year-old is in preschool half-days. So I definitely don’t do “it all” and don’t want to. There’s just so much judgment towards moms – toward every single decision we make. How we parent, whether or not we have help, what products we use, and whether or not we work outside of motherhood. All of it. I am here to tell you that for me, having help has changed my life. I want to work. And I also want to not spread myself so thin that I can barely exist beyond motherhood.
For those that might be new here, here’s a little background on my past two experiences with the fourth trimester. I’ll share our postpartum childcare plans today, and once we’ve had a bit more experience with our night nurse more about how all that works.
My experience with our first baby
My first daughter was born in 2018, and I did have a maternity leave, but did not hire any childcare until I went back to work. And we really struggled to find someone, so that first month back, I did it (mostly) without help. My baby was not the most “settled” baby, slept very poorly, and was extremely fussy. Being new parents was hard. Not being able to soothe my own baby was really hard, not having any sleep broke us a few times. The entire postpartum experience was sweet and I adored her, but it was a lot harder than I expected.
I learned the hard way that I could absolutely not do it all and maintain my physical and mental health. And while I was so fortunate to not go through PPD, it was still just a lot with exhaustion and postpartum hormones. I should also add that back then, I wouldn’t have dared spent money on help when I wasn’t working for a few months. With experience, and knowing how hard it all is, I feel very differently now.
My experience with our second baby
I was so excited for how different things would be. We had a nanny! I’d be able to take real breaks, get time with both of my kids, and have help. My husband and I might even be able to sneak away to lunch every so often. Then the pandemic hit and we made what felt like the safest choice, parting ways with our nanny. Three months later, our older daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia. So not only did we not have help, but we were fully isolated to keep our daughter safe through treatment. And it wasn’t until 10 months later that we hired our (current) nanny. The entire experience was really lonely and painful, going through that by ourselves with a new baby.
Hiring a night nurse for my third baby
Our daughter will have been done with treatment just about 9 months by the time our baby is here. She is healthy and thriving. Our younger (soon to be middle) is a dream. The girls are so sweet and happy and excited, and for the first time, I feel like I’ll get to really enjoy this phase. For that, I am so grateful. We have school and camp to keep the girls (somewhat) occupied this summer, and my husband’s cousin’s daughter (who is in high school) will play with the girls a few afternoons a week. We have our nanny here Monday through Wednesday until 3:00. I love her dearly, but wanted to not feel like we were scrambling Thursday – Sunday. It feels like such a privilege to line this help up, especially after our last very traumatic experience with cancer treatment, the pandemic, and a newborn.
How I found our night nurse
My friend Jess (Keys) is one of the most laid-back (and happiest, most well-adjusted) moms that I know. And she hired a night nurse a few nights a week, so that really planted the seed for me. Then another friend raved about her night nurse and I reached out. She was available! I started to hear more and more about these night nurses and was so intrigued. We’ll have her here 4 nights a week for a few months, and can reduce if/when we’re ready. Knowing that we have two other kids to care for, and that we can have that help this time, and actually enjoy this phase (compared to our last two experiences) makes it feel worth it. It still feels like a huge expense, but we’ll make it work.
The decision to hire a night nurse
It took a moment to get my husband on board with this one. But I made my case and he came around. We were not the happiest we’ve been without sleep – I cannot function and it’s just not good for anyone. Our last experience was so traumatic given all we went through, and I just really (really!) want to get to enjoy this baby without living in a bubble and taking one of my children to chemo every week. If you’re breastfeeding, the night nurse will bring you the baby, you’ll feed the baby, and they’ll do everything else. If you’re bottle feeding, you’ll get to sleep through the night.
What a night nurse does
A night nurse will care for your baby overnight while you sleep. As a result, you’ll feel more like yourself the next day. I shared friends’ experiences, and had him really look back at our last two experiences. Let’s just make this easier, get some rest, and actually enjoy the experience. It will make a huge difference for us and our mental health. We are fortunate enough that we can afford to make it work. And we had a collective 14 months postpartum without any help with our first two. It was really a few friends who sold me on it.
The decision to hire (or not hire) a postpartum doula
I didn’t know that postpartum doula services were a thing until this pregnancy. Sure, I knew about birth doulas who I thought were there for emotional support and to advocate for the laboring parent during the birth of your baby. Two friends were telling me about their plans to hire a baby nurse, and suggested looking into a postpartum doula. I was really back and forth with this one and planned on moving forward. Ultimately, I made the decision to get better sleep and did not move forward with a doula.
The postpartum doula cost, from what I’ve seen, is closer to the $35-$40 range per hour which is what we’ll be paying. I thought I’d need the help and I’m sure I could use it, but the cost was just too high for me.
Having postpartum support
Whether you hire help or have family around, a new mother or birthing parent needs and deserves support. It is often the case that partners do not get much time off beyond those first days. The role of a postpartum doula or night nurse, from what I have heard, can be life-changing during those early weeks. Choose what matters most to you. If it’s your first baby, maybe help during the day matters more than overnight shifts. If you have older children, being rested might feel like priority. Talk to your doula or night nurse about the kind of overnight care they’ll provide. From the few agencies I spoke with, light housework and additional support for the family seems to be standard. One agency said that the night nurse would even make sure the older girls were ok if they woke up, but their pricing was a bit higher, so we went another direction.
As always, I will share more about the process as it unfolds in my newsletter. And I’ll update you in a few months, sharing as much as I can about both experiences. If you have any questions or want to get in touch, message me on Instagram.