Night nanny and breastfeeding: an unexpectedly effective combo

Published: 27/10/2017

Many mums ask us whether it makes sense to hire a night nanny if they are breastfeeding?

The short answer is “yes”.

A slightly longer answer is “absolutely yes”!

And here is the longer, fully lived-through answer… (Spoiler alert! The answer is still the same.)

While I was preparing for the birth of our second son, my husband was encouraging me to get a night nanny. Of course, I loved the idea of sleeping through the night! But how I wondered, could this possibly work?!

I breastfed my first baby and I remembered two things clearly:

  • First, how desperately tired I was! Hence, a night nanny would make sense.
  • And second, how many times he woke up each night to feed – too many! Initially (and for a long time thereafter), it was six times a night. Hence, a night nanny simply would not fit into my breastfeeding world. (Also, between you and me, my plan was to catch up on ‘Orange is the New Black’ during those night feeds.)

So, I did the maths. Assuming baby goes to sleep at 7 pm and – by some miracle promised by the likes of Gina Ford, Baby Whisperer and Rachel Waddilove – sleeps until 7 am, that is 12 hours of potential rest for me! (Right. I knew better – this was a fairyland.)

With my firstborn, each feed took me about an hour; and then another half an hour to settle him back to sleep afterwards. That is six hours of feeding, plus three hours of re-settling, or nine hours of awake time for me, each night.

After I factored in my own re-settle time, I was left with at most two hours of rest. How on earth would it make sense to have a night nanny at home for the entire night, to sleep two hours? Nonsense!

However, the fact that I slept only two hours a night was exactly the reason why I – as well as my baby, and the rest of my family — ultimately benefited tremendously from a night nanny. And all the while I was breastfeeding exclusively.

Here are the key benefits of hiring a night nanny, also called a night nurse, or – as I like to call them – Angels of the night.

Six benefits of hiring a night nanny for *your baby*

  • Your baby will feed fewer times a night. Night nannies can read baby cues much better than us mums. Babies don’t wake for hunger only. In fact, more often than not, they wake up because they have tummy pain or simply because they don’t know how to fall back asleep. Now, for us breastfeeding mums the easiest way to get them back to sleep seems to be putting them on the breast and letting them use us as a human dummy. But (!) as we all know that’s a very short-term fix. In contrast, a night nanny will try to first settle the baby back to sleep, and very often she will succeed. (If she can’t it’s because the baby is genuinely hungry.) Hence, the result is fewer night feeds (and more sleep!) for both of you.
  • Your baby will finish their night feeds faster. Especially during the night, babies tend to doze off on a breast. They end up sleeping on us more so than feeding. A night nurse, however, will make sure that your baby sucks only as long as the nanny actually feeds. By looking at you and the baby, the nanny has the knowledge and experience to know when they are finished.
  • Your baby will settle back to sleep more easily. Night nannies seem to have a ‘special power’ to teach your baby to fall asleep, and stay asleep. I didn’t know this until I had my first baby but babies actually need to be taught how to sleep! The most important skill for babies is the ability to fall asleep on their own, not needing your breast for comfort.
  • Your baby will be sleeping better and more. As a result of this gentle training by an experienced night nurse, your baby will be sleeping longer and more soundly. Remember those magical 12 hours between 7pm and 7am? With the help of a night nanny your baby will be making the most of this period, guaranteed!
  • Your baby will be stronger and healthier. Did you know that sleep is the second most important factor for baby development, after food? Sleep is unfortunately often neglected yet it is while sleeping that your baby grows and strengthens.
  • Your baby will be in a better mood during the days. This is no rocket science. It works the same way as for us adults!

Six benefits of night nannies for *you*

  • You will be waking up feeling refreshed and energetic. (Yaaayy!!)
  • You will be enjoying time with your baby much more. (Sweet!)
  • You will have more quality time for the rest of the family, work or social commitments. (Finally!)
  • You will be assured that your baby is getting enough quality sleep which is so important for their development. (Thank goodness!)
  • Your immune system (and hence your baby's) will be stronger. (Bring it on!)
  • Your milk supply will improve. Wait, what? It’s true, the more you rest, the more (quality) milk your body can produce. Check out our favourite breastfeeding source:

So to answer your question, ‘does it make sense to hire a night nanny while breastfeeding?’ Absolutely.

Stay tuned for more tips around the logistics of breastfeeding with a night nanny, and different arrangements you can make to get the best out of their help.

Fact: Majority of myTamarin mums who hire a night nanny breastfeed. They breastfeed more than the UK average. myTamarin can support you, your baby and your family – come take a look!

We know that hiring a night nanny might seem a hard thing to explain, especially to your mum. We are here to help with our guide on How to explain a night nanny to your mum.

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