Jamie and Jools Oliver made the headlines recently when they proudly announced that having had their fifth child they, (wait for it!) GASP, hired in the help of a night nanny due to 5 weeks of sleep deprivation. This revelation sparked some controversy, a whole lot of media coverage, and it got us thinking about perceptions of having help.
Maternity Nurses have been helping mothers with their newborns in Great Britain since the Victorian times. Traditionally, your “monthly nurse” was a service actually gifted to you by your own mother to help you through the first month post partum. The idea was that your own Florence Nightingale would come to stay with you while you recovered from childbirth. Main duties included: helping you get established with feeding, guiding your baby into a developmentally age appropriate routine, and yes, without question allowing you to rest and get some much needed sleep.
Undoubtedly times have changed considerably since the Victorian days, but the need for support for mothers during this time is greater than ever – so why all the judgement? It is now the norm that people are geographically separated from their nearest and dearest, our partners have limited (if any) paternity leave, and with more people waiting to start a family we are seeing mothers having children much later which means our own parents are older and frankly less able to provide that practical support that is so needed during this incredibly amazing, yet often incredibly difficult time. We see higher rates of post partum depression than ever before and breastfeeding rates are at an all time low. It doesn’t take a genius to join the dots.
Maternity Nurses, Baby Whisper’s, Nigh Nurses and Newborn Specialists…. We don’t really mind what you call us as long as we provide you with the type of support that you want and need. Gone are the days where parents are looking for someone to come in and take over full care of their most precious, most beloved thing in the whole world. They don’t want to be ordered around by some overbearing know it all. What they do need however is help, and there is no shame in that. More than ever before we get the distressed calls of mothers (and very often fathers!) who have come across our services when they are really in the thick of it. Feeding isn’t going to plan, baby will only sleep if being held/rocked/you are standing on your head, you haven’t slept in 5 weeks, every other person you speak to has THE answer to what you SHOULD be doing (and they all contradict each other). Don’t get us started on the perils of 3am google searching. Quite honestly you feel like you’re about to have a nervous breakdown – HOW CAN WE HELP!?
Ideally, you would have been introduced to us when you are still pregnant. Our antenatal preparation groups provide parents with exactly what to expect from the moment they first hold their newborn or newborns in their arms. Unfortunately babies do not come with a manual, and nor should they – they are not robots! No book or forum is going to give you the comprehensive practical answers you need to fully prepare you to care for your little one. Our support covers: feeding (breast and bottle), changing / bathing, sleeping (no standing on heads required), routines, night times, reflux / allergies, post natal depression, weaning, dummy detox, and much, much more…we work tirelessly to find a solution for any problem.
Most parents engage us in the traditional sense to help them care for their newborns over night for the first few months following birth. We arrive at your home in the evening at a mutually convenient time and from that moment on you can start to relax, knowing your baby is in safe hands. While we are with you, you can be involved with us as much or as little as you would prefer. Parents see this time as an opportunity to ask questions and learn from us, utilising the years of experience and knowledge we have built up.
Regardless of your feeding choice, we will help. If you are breastfeeding we will wind, do a nappy change if necessary and then resettle your baby to sleep so that you can go back to sleep yourself post feed. You may choose to leave us with expressed breast milk or with formula so that you don’t need to be disturbed and can therefore enjoy a full night of uninterrupted sleep.
Before we leave in the morning we provide you with detailed feedback of our night with your baby and advice on how best to tackle the day ahead. We encourage you to keep a list of questions as they arise so whenever we return we can talk them through with you, suggest solutions and continue to support you even when we are not in your home.
We leave you equipped with skills to deal with different situations: so, for example, as your baby grows and gains weight they may not need a feed every time they wake so we will teach you skills to successfully resettle them appropriate to their age and needs.
We for one gave a great cheer when the Oliver’s admitted, very humbly, that even for them after four children they needed a bit of extra help. We hope that more mothers share with each other the struggles as well as triumphs, and most importantly we hope that if you feel you may like to consider a bit of help that you feel you won’t be judged. There is never a more vulnerable time for a woman than immediately following the birth of her baby. We are here to help.