My best friend hired a night nurse after her third pregnancy. She was experiencing chronic fatigue after her first and second children were born. She works full time outside of the home and has a husband who travels weekly for work, leaving most of the running around, house care, laundry, food prep, kid’s appointments, and the everyday chaos of parenthood resting solely on her shoulders.
According to Good Housekeeping, “Night nurse” and “baby nurse” are known now as Newborn Care Specialists, or NCS — people trained and educated to give postpartum help to families of newborns. They come to homes at night and are responsible for caring for the baby during the overnight hours so new parents can sleep. They’ll usually clean bottles and pump parts, and many will do the laundry when the baby is sleeping. For first-time parents, they can give one-on-one coaching on how to feed and care for a baby. The goal is to establish good sleep habits and work to get the baby to sleep through the night within 12 weeks.
My friend still breastfed (a common misconception for mothers that use night care) — the woman they’d hired would bring the baby to her for feeding — then get her back to sleep. The NCS stayed in their home for three months every night, Monday through Friday. My friend said it saved her — emotionally, physically, and mentally, and allowed her to be her best self for her young kids, herself, and her employer.
This should be all anyone wants for a new mom, and yet, she was met with a lot of negative responses from family and friends who felt she was outsourcing her responsibilities as a mother, that she should be sacrificing herself completely because that’s what mothers do. She was told she was selfish, lazy, unreasonable, and that she would be missing out on bonding with her baby. I believe a lot of the pushback came from people who thought, “I survived on no sleep, why does she think she’s so special?”
Considering three million women experience postpartum depression every year (often exacerbated by exhaustion) and hundreds of thousands of others who feel completely overwhelmed by new motherhood, it’s infuriating she was shamed for her choice. At one point, that led to a feeling of guilt and left her wondering if she’d made the right decision for her family. Look no further than a woman if you want a raw, unadulterated version of guilt on steroids. We seem almost destined to fail (or feel as if we’re failing) because of one primary assumption made of us — that we must participate constantly in our children’s lives. That’s the expectation.
The guilt didn’t last long. My friend says having a night nurse was one of the best investments she’s ever made. She felt more at peace as a parent and healthier than she did recovering from any of her other pregnancies. “I did something for me and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as a mother,” she told me.
Having a night nurse isn’t cheap. The rates for an NCS typically range between $25 and $45 per hour, and even higher in some cities. But as more and more women put their own mental and emotional health as a priority and stop listening to the noise, hopefully, the stigma that surrounds it (much like parents who use daycare services) will fade into the background and having a night nurse will be a viable option for more and more mothers.
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