Recently I received a call from a woman who has been a baby nurse for decades. When I told her I did not refer to baby nurses as we had postpartum doulas instead, she and I chatted for a while. It was interesting the information I received.
Did you know that the word nurse is just used without meaning actual nurse? I know, weird, right? She is not a licensed nurse in any way. She said most are not women who have nursing degrees at all. I was a bit aghast and told her I thought the use of the title nurse may be a bit misleading to new parents. Their website states, “Our Newborn Care Specialists work to ensure that those first weeks with your baby are low-stress and enjoyable. We help with feeding and sleeping schedules, breastfeeding, and adjustment issues for both Mom and baby. ”
I told her we do not do any feed scheduling or sleep training for a newborn who is breastfeeding as it is essential to not do so in order for the mom’s milk supply to be well established. She was a bit dismayed at my response. She said she fully supported breastfeeding but then went on to say that the mom pumps during the day, they offer breastmilk bottles and also give bottles at night while the mom slept. I understand how breastmilk supplies are established having been a La Leche League leader for over a decade and having been a certificed lactation educator for more than a decade. If a mom is pumping her body thinks she had more babies than she had- so it causes her to over produce- over producing can cause breast infections and engorgement issues in the first few weeks. And if she sleeps during the night and her baby gets a bottle, her body thinks she has a baby who is not needing milk during the night and there is a reduction in milk supply. She told me the moms woke full in the morning and had no such issues. I then asked the proverbial question, did her moms nurse their babies for any length of time or were they usually over breastfeeding in the first few months and were they doing both bottle feeding and breastfeeding pretty much from the start. She admitted most do not nurse past three months and most only breastfed some and bottle fed some…. hmmmm. I see. And I did not even get into the nipple confusion issues that can occur in the first few weeks with bottles and pacifiers.
Their site also states, ” She will also keep the nursery clean and organized, help with baby’s laundry, and assist with light housework as needed.” And I mentioned that we help pick up the whole house, do everyone’s laundry and cook meals, run errands and do what the mom needs us to do to mother the new mother.
I should say they also offer nanny services and governess placement. We do not. What we do is help the new family adjust to the changes that occur when a new baby enters the family. Our agreement states, “Our Service: Doulas will be glad to teach you infant massage, bathing, feeding, comfort measures, safety issues and swaddling. They do not take over the care of the baby, but assist you in learning to care for your baby’s needs except during naps. This is a time to help you adjust to your new role. Doulas will also be glad to do some light housework or cooking. This will consist of laundry (gathering, washing, drying and folding) and picking up objects off of the floor. Doulas may sweep floors, spot mop in areas and dust. Doulas may cook meals that are requested, provided client can supply written or verbal instructions on the preparation of the food. Doulas may do some light cleaning of the kitchen including washing, drying and putting away dishes. ”
And I think the fact that they provide services at night is a huge difference. Do we do that? Yes in special situations- partners away, postpartum depression issues, and multiples- but we feel if our job is to take care of the mom…. that is kinda hard to do at night when she is sleeping. And if a mom is truly taken good care of during the daytime, she can usually handle her nights.
I will say one site did state, “The baby nurse will bring the baby to the mom for all feedings. When mom is done feeding, the baby nurse will take the baby and care for its needs until the next feeding, allowing mom much needed rest.” Which is what we do when night time mothering help is needed. But that same site stated, “the baby nurse does not cook, clean, or do household chores. She is only responsible for the baby’s complete care along with duties pertaining to the baby such as baby laundry, cleaning bottles/breastfeeding supplies, and keeping the nursery stocked and tidy.”
So there is the biggest difference for sure… we take care of the whole family. We do not take over the care of the baby – we help teach and guide the new parents in becoming new care givers to this baby. If you want to be “mothered,” then I suggest you hire a postpartum doula. If you want someone else to take over the role of taking care of the baby, then I suggest you hire a baby nurse. Who by the way one of the sites does clearly state, “A baby nurse is a non-medical professional who comes into the home when the baby comes home from the hospital. They generally assist parents for a few weeks up to several months in all aspects of newborn care. ”
We have some fabulous “newborn experts” in our group who offer postpartum doula services. . They are all mothers themselves. They have all breastfed their babies and can assist you in doing so. They have all been baby wearers. They all have extra special skills as individuals.
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