Who is the best fit for your family: Postpartum Support Professionals
Updated: May 14
What an exciting time it is! You are having a baby and I am sure you are in the planning stages. Planning for additional support post birth is one of the most important topics I discuss with growing families. As the option for extended family to help new parents with their newborn has decreased, more parents are looking to hire postpartum support professionals and specially trained, experienced child care providers. There are many names, titles, and even responsibilities that come with caring for new parents and babies. The terms Baby Nurse, Night Nurse and even Maternity Nurse have been replaced with Newborn Care Specialist, Postpartum doula, different variations of nannies and even sleep consultants. The term nurse should only be used to reference someone who is actually a licensed nurse! While there are highly qualified licensed nurses offering medical and non-medical postpartum support,they are few and far between.
For industry standard and liability reasons, care professionals have adapted new terms to best differentiate their roles. It is not uncommon for parents to be unsure of which role to seek out for a particular service. Whether parents want to get their baby on a routine, implement sleep conditioning techniques, need an empathetic ear, or just need some overnight sleep, there is someone for everyone.
Let’s examine each role to help you find the care that meets your family’s needs.
Newborn Care Specialist- A Newborn Care Specialist is a newborn caregiver who has specialized training for working with newborns. Their education and experience includes newborn sleep, general care of newborns, infant feeding, sometimes providing newborn education to new parents and the list goes on from there. Newborn Care Specialists can work overnights, days, 24/7 shifts or any combination that works best for each family's needs. They can also guide parents and caregivers on how to establish a unique schedule to promote the best sleeping and feeding habits for newborns. Many times Newborn Care Specialists are cross trained as Postpartum doulas and Sleep consultants because the responsibilities and goals for each position can overlap. Families who need infant focused support should seek a Newborn Care Specialist or a Newborn Care Specialist/ Postpartum Doula Hybrid.
Postpartum doula- A postpartum doula is essentially a caregiver for birthing parents. Postpartum doulas provide emotional support and sometimes manage basic household duties so new parents can take a shower, eat a meal, or even sleep. Postpartum doulas can work similar shifts as a Newborn Care Specialist, overnight, daytime or even 24/7. Many Postpartum Doulas also offer virtual support. Postpartum doulas with proper training can also provide holistic treatments such as traditional belly binding and general lactation advice. While they can offer newborn care, a postpartum doula’s primary focus is on caring for the parents so that the parents can provide the best care for their newborns. This is the best option for families in need of parental support,
Night nanny- A night nanny is a professional who provides care overnight for children of any age if parents are working, traveling, having a night out, or just need a solid night of sleep Night nannies do not have a specific age group of children that they care for and can work with infants overnight! The Night nannies that do care for babies may or may not have specialized training for working with newborns. If you are looking for overnight care for your baby make sure to check references and require newborn experience..
Infant Nanny- An infant nanny is a general title for nannies working with children from birth to one year old. Nannies in general are extensions of parents who mesh and follow the parent’s parenting styles. Many times nannies are given already established schedules, activities, and goals the parents would like their children to achieve. Depending on the nanny and their experience, some nannies may help new parents establish goals and help guide them to figure out what discipline style works best for their family. Nannies tend to establish long term connections with families and work with families well beyond infancy.
Sleep Consultant- A sleep consultant is a trained professional who advises parents on how to help their child get adequate sleep, often by conditioning them to sleep through the night. Depending on the challenges and needs of a family, a sleep consultant may provide virtual support, in person support, and/or create an individualized sleep plan for a family. Sleep consultants can work with a variety of ages so their job is not limited to newborns. There are several different sleep philosophies and styles that sleep consultants can use so families should do their research to find the BEST fit for them!
As always, be safe! Do your research by checking references, do background checks, check certifications, and if hiring a nanny do a trial! Every professional is not for every family and vice versa. You want your postpartum period to be smooth sailing, to feel nurtured and supported and that is exactly what these professionals can do for your family! Now that you know your options, what is the best postpartum support for your family?