The A-Z of prenatal and newborn support

Published: 10/06/2020

Whether you’re expecting your first baby or your third, or have just welcomed the newest member of your family, your life is bound to be turned upside down. An extra pair of hands during this exciting yet overwhelming time can give you the reassurance you need and help ease you into the next stage of your parenting journey.

Doulas, midwives, maternity nurses, night nannies, lactation specialists, sleep consultants and more. This guide explores the different types of support available and will help you decide what’s right for you and your family

What is a doula?

Originating from the Greek word doula, meaning “women’s servant’, doulas are companions for mums during pregnancy, birth or after birth. They have some training but haven’t generally gone through formal obstetric training. 

Prenatal doulas will help you prepare for the birth of your baby, in terms of what to expect during the birth, as well as preparing your body and mind for the experience. If a doula works with you during pregnancy, they will also be there at the birth too, to provide support and guidance and ensure your birth plan is being followed. 

Post birth, a doula will make sure you get all the care, support and rest you need to recover from the birth and adjust to your new world. They will take care of the baby, help with feeding, sleep and getting your baby to settle into a routine. They will also help out with domestic jobs around the house including cooking and cleaning to ensure you are getting enough rest, recovery time and quality time with your baby. 

Doulas will typically work with a family for up to three months after the birth of their baby, , although this depends on individual needs and requirements. Some parents benefit from having a doula for the entire three-month period, while others may hire them for just a week or two.

What is a midwife?

Midwives are medically trained and provide care and support during pregnancy, through labour and up to 28 days after the baby is born.

They are focused on ensuring you have a health pregnancy and will conduct routine medical examinations, as well as teach you the basics on how to care for your baby.

What is a maternity nurse?

Maternity nurses will have typically completed some formal training whether it be in infant and postnatal care, or specifically in maternity nursing. Those who haven’t undergone specific training will have had plenty of hands-on experience as they are mums themselves. Maternity nurses have a broad range of experience and can help with anything from reflux, colic and tongue tie, to sleep, feeding and setting the foundations for a good routine.

A maternity nurse will show you the ropes and provide guidance while being that extra pair of hands to help care for your baby. 

Maternity nurses are generally flexible whether you need them for a few days a week (during the day) or 24 hours a day for up to a maximum of 6 days a week.

What is a maternity nanny?

Maternity nannies are experienced nannies who work with babies and younger children, generally up to toddler age. They aren’t necessarily qualified in infant, postnatal or maternity nursing, but they do need to have lots of hands-on experience with babies. Maternity nannies take on a more supportive role and can't generally help with the more complex baby matters such as breastfeeding that a maternity nurse would be able to do.

Maternity nannies are a great option if you want the additional reassurance of having someone with a lot of baby experience, especially if it's your first child. Although they can work with newborn babies, they don't typically start until babies are around 3 months old when they take over from the maternity nurse.

What is a night nanny?

Night nannies are mainly there to ensure parents and their babies get enough rest and sleep during the night, as well as starting the process of settling them into a sleep routine.

A night nanny will take over the care of your baby for the entire night (normally for 10 to 12 hour shifts) and handle feeding, changing and settling the baby, or if you prefer, they can bring the baby to you when it’s time for feeding

What is a lactation specialist?

Lactation specialists have trained in all things breastfeeding. They will have a recognised qualification and will be able to help with any breastfeeding issues.

If your baby is having trouble latching, your milk supply is a little low, or you have any other challenges or concerns relating to breastfeeding, a lactation specialist can help you and your baby get into the swing of breastfeeding and can also help with any issues further down the line

What is a sleep trainer/sleep consultant?

Sleep consultants are specialists in babies and sleep.

If your baby isn’t sleeping enough, wakes regularly, or is unable to sleep without assistance (i.e., nursing or rocking to sleep) a sleep consultant will help guide you and set the foundations for a good sleep routine.

The ideal time to start working with a sleep-consultant depends on a baby’s development but is generally somewhere between four and six months

What are troubleshooters?

Troubleshooters are maternity nurses who specialise in certain issues such as excessive crying or distress, babies not being able to sleep or refusing to feed.

If you are looking for someone to come in and observe what’s going on, recommend solutions, guide and teach you to address the issue yourself, a troubleshooter will give you the confidence to do it on your own

Virtual online support

In-home home support isn’t right for all families. You may not have the space, you may think it’s too expensive, or you may not want someone in your home. If this is you, online newborn support will give you that one-to-one guidance and pre- and post-natal support from many of the specialists listed above, via video, phone and messaging. It’s a much more affordable and flexible way to get support. You can get expert advice from wherever you are, options range from single sessions if you are in need of reassurance or want some quick guidance, to multiple sessions and week-long packages to work on specific issues such as sleep or routine. You’ll come away from the sessions feeling empowered to deal with any issues yourselves.

At myTamarin, our mission is to support parents so that they can fully enjoy each stage of parenthood -- from pregnancy, to day one with their baby and beyond. That’s why we offer a variety of support options to fit your lifestyle and needs. Find out more about our residential (in-home) newborn support here and our online newborn support here.

When you’re ready to explore your options and specific needs further, book a call with one of our newborn matching experts to discuss the best way forward for you!

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