Monday, January 9, 2012

Night Nurses For Newborns: Would You Do It If You Could?

By Rachael

They say money can’t buy happiness, but did you know that money can buy you a good night’s sleep when you have a newborn in the house? That sounds like an awful lot of happiness to me.

No night nurse for my little one
Before I gave birth to my second daughter this past fall, I mentally prepared myself for the coming long, sleepless nights. It’s just part of having a baby. Like all middle class folks, I assumed I simply had to suck it up and deal with the sleep deprivation.

Then some older friends of mine became grandparents of triplets, and I learned about night nurses. Parents can hire a night nurse to come to their home and care for the baby at night. Mom sleeps peacefully in her bed and the nurse brings the baby in for feedings if she’s breastfeeding. If mom bottle-feeds, she doesn’t even need to be awakened. The night nurse handles all diaper changes and comforts the baby between feedings, and she sleeps in the nursery or a nearby spare bedroom.

The mother of the aforementioned triplets is a doctor, so I doubt she had trouble affording the pricey service, which can run from $20 to $45 per hour depending on the experience of the nurse and how many babies you have according to one agency, Exclusively Baby Nurses. Night nurses are most often hired to care for multiples, babies with special needs, or premies. In those cases, it becomes more a matter of practicality than a luxury. Still, nurses can and do care for healthy singletons. In fact, night nurses are apparently a fixture in the New York area, according to this article. The author even mentions that one of her acquaintances who could hardly afford rent had family members pool money to give her a night nurse as a gift.

Nurses help with more than just nighttime care, too. Parents sometimes hire them as 24-hour live-in helpers. Baby Nurses America, like many baby nurse organizations, says its nurses have three goals when working with families: infant care, parent education, and scheduling. They help with everything from diapering to umbilical cord care to tidying up the nursery, and they aim to help the infant develop good eating and sleeping patterns. Rachel’s Infant Care also takes care of moms. “Giving care and support to the new mother and monitoring her recovery is important. We make sure she gets good nutrition, rest, lots of bonding time with her new arrival, and time for a bubble bath.” The part about the bubble bath feels like the height of excess to me. You know you’re wealthy when you can hire someone to care for your newborn while you have a nice soak in the tub with a magazine.

For the fun of it, my husband and I did some basic math after our second daughter was born. Consider a somewhat conservative rate like $25 an hour, and that adds up to $200 for a basic eight-hour night shift. If you want your nurse to work five nights a week in your home, that’s $1,000 a week. If you keep your nurse for 12 weeks – the amount of time usually needed if you want your infant sleep trained – that adds up to $12,000. There’s also the initial application fee, which can be in the $200 range. That’s a lot of potential college tuition.

That begs the question: If money were no object, would I hire a night nurse to care for a healthy singleton? My first thought is that extra help at night would be a lovely thing. I had a hard time getting any sleep after my first daughter was born nearly four years ago, and I often randomly burst into tears out of sheer exhaustion. A night nurse would have gone a long way toward helping me feel better about my new role as a mom, but I might have felt funny handing my baby off to someone else at night, not to mention feeling awkward about having someone else in my house all night. I also don’t know how I could face other moms at library story time or on play dates. Those sleepless nights are a rite of passage, and any mom who gets out of night duty is bound to provoke jealousy.

Still, the idea of a night nurse is compelling. There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture. If we moms could avoid it, why not? I do know one thing. This is a parenting decision I will probably never have to make because I could never afford it. Instead, I guess I’ll go make another cup of coffee and dab some makeup on the circles under my eyes.


  1. I am appalled by this idea. Those precious moments with your newborn go by so quickly. Who cares if you lose sleep? When you made the choice to have a baby you knew sleepless nights came along with it. From a mom of 3 I would say enjoy those midnight hours to softly sing and look into your babies eyes. You often don't know how precious the moments are until they are gone. Don't parent with regrets and if you do this you will regret missing those moments.

  2. I was very VERY lucky to have a baby that was a good sleeper right off the bat. The first 2 weeks I had to set an alarm to feed him because he wouldn't wake up during the night on his own. Two more weeks and he was sleeping through the night just fine. If I had a night nurse she would have been bored out of her mind.
    And yes, I know my next baby will probably be an insomniac demon child. Nobody is lucky enough to get 2 of these good ones. Lol

  3. My daughter was kicked out of the hospital nursery because she kept waking up all the other babies & didn't want to sleep. This should have been a warning to me & my husband, for things to come. I'm not sure if I would do it nightly, but we went in 2 hr shifts until she was 11 MONTHS. that's a long time not to get sleep. One day a week, would have saved our sanity a bit more, and maybe have kept me from calling my husband, telling him, he needed to get home now, because I desperately needed him to take her!

    That being said, it's common in some countries, to have a nurse the first 3 months/weeks(can't remember which) to help adjust to the new life.
    I would once a week...

  4. Of course each child and situation is different, but I think if it is an expense that a family can handle, then why not take advantage of the assistance. I don't think parents should feel guilty for wanting to get some sleep. Ultimately having a happy, healthy parent can only be beneficial to the child. I wouldn't personally want someone exclusively caring for my infant in the evenings, but a night or two a week could really help out.

  5. Being an RN who owns a night nurse, I can say that there is a huge need. We help a lot of mom's with multiples as well as mom's with singletons. I wouldn't be quick to judge as you have not walked in other's shoes. We have a lot of clients with post-partum depression, other health issues, or just needing a break. Kudos to those moms who know their limitations and get help when it is needed!

    1. My son and daughter in law just had twins. She has PPD and is not doing well at all. They can't afford a service like this, so they are stuck doing it on their own. We are all middle class folk and thought we could pitch in on a night nurse so she could sleep, but at $25-$40 an hour, that isn't possible. Any other suggestions for us to help this young couple?

    2. alternate nights dad/mom........relatives sleep over take a mom would sleep in the babies room and give me full nights sleep, NOT ever night but it was heaven when I would get one full night sleep

  6. Night nurses are specialized nurses who work with newborns in a wide range of situations. They provide support to the doctor as necessary in a neonatal care facility and help take care of the baby's needs such as cleaning, feeding and changing diapers. Thanks a lot.

  7. Yes to the poster who said she/he is appalled ... Well I am appalled at the way u are quick to judge. I am expecting twins and a c section and have a three year old and a very busy husband . I know that any help be it during night or day would be needed. Unfortunately can't pay someone 20 dollars per hour as not affordable for me. Hoping to find day time help so I can rest and recover from c section ... But really even if I have help it's not like I will not be doing anything.... Taking care of self and breast feeding etc is a lot 1-2 week after c section when u are still swollen and your wound hurts.

  8. Why bother having a child if you aren't going to care for it yourself??? Ridiculous. And selfish!!!

  9. British newborn night Nanny. Twenty-five years experience, CPR certified, early, excellent.references. For many parents after days of exhaustion not able to wash hair as well as take care of your own personal needs, times c-section, without your beautiful bundle of joy screaming I'm considered a god sent, a good night's sleep the kind of sleep you had before you got pregnant. if you can afford it and your grandparents another round to help your parents take advantage of it. and for those of you friends and family members who are wondering what is an appropriate gift I am.


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