Choosing wisely: The biggest mistakes parents make when looking for maternity nurse

Published: 06/07/2023

Understand the mistakes other parents have made so you don't make the same ones

Selecting a maternity nurse is often the first time (outside of the corporate world) parents go through the process interviewing and hiring someone. It can be tempting to treat the process the same as when you are at work, but when parents do this it can lead to oversights, or things going wrong. A maternity nurse is coming into your home to care for your most precious possession (and most likely look after you too). Therefore, there are certain considerations that need to be made.

To help you avoid doing the same, we have collated the 5 most common mistakes that parents make when going through the process of finding a maternity nurse.

1. Choosing experience over personality fit

Hiring a maternity nurse is not just about their qualifications or experience, it's also about their personality and compatibility with your family. Neglecting to assess whether the maternity nurse's personality fits with yours can result in a strained relationship and stressful situation. Of course experience is important (and will be a given), but don’t make the mistake of prioritising it over all else.

Many parents (understandably) want the most experienced and qualified maternity nurse on the market. It is reassuring to know that the person coming into your home might have cared for hundreds of babies before. They really will have seen it all! But there is more to it than that. You are letting someone into your private space and during a special time. You have to feel comfortable with the fact that they will both physically and metaphorically see your dirty washing! Therefore, you have to find someone that you don’t just tolerate, but feel genuinely comfortable having around.

At myTamarin, we only work with maternity nurses who have at least 3 years experience, but many on our books have a lot more. We encourage parents to speak with a range of maternity nurses (even if they think they have found the perfect fit first time around) to make sure they choose the right person.

2. Doing the whole process virtually

In a post pandemic world, we have gotten used to doing everything online. While this works well for some things, it isn’t a substitute for meeting people in real life. The energy and feeling you get from being in the same room as someone just doesn’t translate over Zoom.

We have known families do the process virtually with zero problem. If you’re hiring a maternity nurse from abroad, sometimes it just isn’t feasible to meet in person. However, there have been too many occasions where parents have elected to it virtually and regretted it.

There are a few reasons a virtual meeting isn’t the same as a physical one:

  • In-person interviews allow you to establish a more personal connection with the maternity nurse. Pregnancy and childbirth are sensitive and personal experiences, so having a face-to-face meeting can help build trust and rapport.
  • Some people just don’t perform as well over video. For some, video calls are harder to relax into as it’s harder to pick up on non-verbal communication, such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
  • An in-person interview allows you to assess the nurse's physical appearance and hygiene. While you would hope all maternity nurses have good personal hygiene, we have heard some horror stories!
  • Maternity nurses will often want to see the environment they are working in. It’s better for everyone if you establish whether or not they will be comfortable in your home before you finalise the arrangement. A parent once told us that a maternity nurse came to their house for an interview and asked to see the bed she would be staying in. After assessing it, she asked the parents if they would consider buying a new mattress for her. The mattress was only 2 months old! This might be an extreme, but you don’t want to be caught up in these things later down the line.

3. Failing to communicate about parenting style

Clear communication is essential when hiring a maternity nurse. Parents should not only clearly outline their expectations of duties and schedule, but also how much they want to be involved. Some maternity nurses like to have full control, whereas others are much more comfortable at working as part of a team. If you are a super hands on parent, you need a maternity nurse who is comfortable with this dynamic.

You should ask maternity nurses about their flexibility when it comes to things like routine, feeding and just general working style. Some will have a set way of doing things, whereas others are more ‘go with the flow’ types. If you are unsure what your philosophy on certain things will be, best to go with a maternity nurse who will adapt to your needs, rather than one who is very set in her ways.

4. Not doing their own reference checks

While all reputable agencies will do their own reference checks, it is important for parents to also speak with other parents about their experience with a maternity nurse. Parents are more likely to be honest with other parents. So although you can certainly use agency references as a guide to screen nannies in or out, nothing compares to doing a verbal reference check yourself.

An agency will have checked that they're suitable to be a maternity nurse, but that doesn’t mean they're the right maternity nurse for your family. Different parents have different priorities, so it is important to ensure that any maternity nurse you hire matches up to yours. Other parents' firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights and help you make a more informed decision. Say you are a more reserved family, who like a lot of personal space. You can speak to previous families about what the maternity nurse was like when she was off duty. Did she go out or stay in her room, or did she spend her time in the communal areas? This is important information that a previous client can be really specific about.

If you hire a maternity nurse without using an agency it is even more important that you conduct your own reference checks. Unfortunately, there are a lot of CVs out there that are exaggerated, or just blatant lies. While in an ideal world this wouldn’t be the case, it’s best to do all you can to ensure that you cover for this. In most cases, you can quickly tell if a reference seems fishy, or if the maternity nurse doesn’t feel like a good fit for you.

At myTamarin we check at least two verbal references that must be glowing for each maternity nurse we onboard, but we always encourage our parents to follow up on references themselves.

5. Not using contract

This one doesn’t so much fall into the ‘not treating your maternity nurse search the same as hiring a corporate employee’ camp, but it’s important to remember. Although maternity nurses aren’t employed by parents, having a contract is important. It ensures that both parties’ rights and obligations are clear, and that ultimately both parties are protected.

A contract helps establish a clear understanding of the services the maternity nurse will provide, such as the duration of the booking, the schedule, duties and any other specific requirements. This clarity ensures that both parents and the maternity nurse are on the same page and helps avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts. In the unfortunate case of a dispute, it can be used to help resolve matters more smoothly and can protect the rights of both parties.

The contract can also include a confidentiality clause that ensures the privacy of the family. Maternity nurses have access to personal and sensitive information about the family, so having a contractual obligation to maintain confidentiality can provide peace of mind to the parents.

At myTamarin, we take care of the contract for you. We created our contract working alongside maternity nurses and parents to make sure that it is balanced and fair for everyone.

In knowing the mistakes made by other parents, we hope you can now embark on your search for the perfect maternity nurse with confidence and these common pitfalls.

If you are ready to start your search then sign up here to get the tailored support of one of our professional matchmakers, who have hundreds of successful matches under their belts.

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