You’ve hired a maternity nurse or a night nanny. Now what?
It’s a big step to invite someone into your home, especially during those very precious early weeks when you first bring your baby home. You’ll be sharing those special moments with them, and you will also be going through a huge change yourself.
You’re likely going to be tired. Scrap that, you will be exhausted.
You will be hormonal. And you will likely be at least a little insecure about your new role as a parent, especially if this is your first baby.
A maternity nurse or a night nanny can make a big and very positive difference, but it’s important that you think through how you will organise your home and family so that you will get the most out of hiring them.
Our recommendations will vary slightly depending on whether they are on a 24-hour shift and therefore live-in with you, or rather working just nights or just days.
Does a maternity nurse or a night nanny need her own room?
Normally, she will be staying in the nursery as she will be sharing a room with your baby. However, if she’s a live-in maternity nurse on, for example, a 24/5 arrangement, she will need a private space during her days off.
On such days, and nights, parents normally take the baby into their own room. Alternatively, if they have a spare room, the nurse can use it. Another option is for a maternity nurse to leave the house when she’s not working, although that’s not very common and it will depend on how far away she lives.
Does a maternity nurse or a night nanny need a bed?
If she’s a live-in, then yes. You could use a comfortable futon or a sofa that reclines fully. Either way, it’s important for your maternity nurse to get a good rest during her breaks and days/nights off.
Some night nannies are open to resting on sofas that half-recline, but as a rule of thumb it’s far better to provide a comfortable, and fully reclined sofa or a bed.
While perhaps obvious, it’s important to stress that the nurse’s bed should be in the same room as the baby will be sleeping. Only in such an arrangement, you get the full benefit of having a newborn expert helping you in your home.
We have worked with clients who refused to leave the baby, just to realise that the night nanny was getting a full night sleep, while they were hardly shutting their eyes. In such cases, you may consider hiring a nurse just for day time periods.
Does a maternity nurse or a night nanny need their own bathroom?
If they are a live-in, it’s very common for them to either have their own bathroom to use, or they share the bathroom with the baby, or any other children in the house.
If they work days and night only, they typically won’t need the bathroom as much, so the expectations are more relaxed.
Do maternity nurses or night nannies buy and cook their own food?
If you hire a live-in maternity nurse, you’re responsible for their food and lodging for the duration of their booking. You don’t have to prepare or cook meals for them, but there should be enough supplies for them in the house.
It is very common that nurses add to the family weekly Ocado, Amazon or other online grocery shopping, or they share their desired list with the parents. Other times, parents might give a weekly “stipend” in cash that the nurses can then use for her own food purchases. Often, nurses will have a designated shelf in the family fridge and/or in the kitchen cupboards.
More and more people have special dietary requirements, and it’s important to discuss practicalities around that, e.g. keeping the kitchen kosher, handling of meat, types of milk to have available etc.
Some parents like to use cooked meals to share with the nurses, and some order food in. Some families like to share their meals with the nurses, and some prefer their privacy.
There is no right or wrong way of organising yourself around food and meals. What’s important however is that you discuss and decide upfront how it will work in your home.
Nurses that work for you only day-time or only night-time, typically don’t need any food from you, however it’s nice if you have some refreshments on hand, e.g.fruits or yoghurts, and plenty of water of course.
Either way, when a maternity nurse or a night nanny is using your kitchen, she’s expected to clean up after herself, i.e wash the dishes or put them into the dishwasher, however don’t expect them to clean after you.
Do maternity nurses and night nannies need to do laundry?
If they live with you, almost for sure. So make sure you explain how your washer and dryer work, and when they can use them. If they work a 24-hour shift or if they work days, they are expected to do laundry for the baby as well.
Do maternity nurses and night nannies need to change their own sheets, and clean their room and bathroom?
They should be changing the sheets they use and be responsible for the tidiness of the room and bathroom they use. However they do not do any deep cleaning, hoovering or dusting.
They are responsible for the nursery and all the nursery equipment if they are on a 24-hour shift. For day and night-only nurses, this responsibility is shared with parents.
Do maternity nurses and night nannies wear a uniform?
A few do, but the majority do not. Some like to wear very simple and comfortable outfits while they work, e.g. a simple T-shirt and leggings. You should not get phased if you see your matehirty nurse or a night nanny in her pajamas, however if the appearance is important in your home, or if you have a more formal household, you should discuss the outfit expectations upfront.
Do maternity nurses and night nannies get breaks? And how should we manage them?
If you have a live-in maternity nurse, the standard is for them to get a 3- to 4-hour long break during each 24-hour period. It is important for your nurse to stay reasonably rested so that she can help you care for your baby.
The breaks are typically taken in the mornings, and as much as possible these should be uninterrupted. Often, maternity nurses will try to catch up on sleep during that time.
Some nurses are more flexible, and especially when babies start sleeping through the nights better, you could arrange different time slots for their breaks, or even break them in two time slots. Make sure you discuss options rather than assume, and don’t push your nurse into an uncomfortable situation.
Day-time and night-time only nurses typically do not take any breaks, however they are only human and will need to use the loo, and help themselves to water.
Does it count as a break when I’m (breast)feeding the baby?
Not really, unless it is during their designated break time. While it might seem that babies are feeding forever, especially early on, during those times nurses can, and often do look after the nursery, baby’s or their own laundry, or prepare and eat their meals.
Does it count as a break when the nurse is preparing, or eating her meals, or taking a shower?
Again, not really, unless it is during their designated break time. It’s helpful to coordinate those activities so that the nurse has some time for every day hygiene and feeding while the parents are spending time with the baby.
Overall, communication is key. Err on over-communicating rather than assuming that the nurses should simply know what you expect of them. Every family is different and while maternity nurses and nannies are used to working with a variety of different families, yours is unique.
Check out the other "How to" guides in our series:
- How to interpret nanny CVs and profiles
- How to interview a maternity nurse or night nanny
- Getting references for your potential Maternity Nurse or Night Nanny
What questions do you need to ask potential Maternity Nurses and Night Nannies? This is our guide to making sure you get everything you need when interviewing for help with your newborn baby.Read post
Should you speak with previous employers of your maternity nurse or night nanny? YES! And here's how to go about it.Read post