Your babies have arrived home and you are so excited to finally have two, or even three, bundles of joy to show the nursery that you have spent hours decorating. There’s been many a day you have sat in the feeding chair, staring at the cots and dreaming about the moment you will get to see and touch your babies. You couldn’t wait to hear their cries and immediately kick into mom mode, taking charge of the situation and offering endless hugs and kisses.
That can all change in one sleepless night as you begin to wonder how you are going to get through the night and then take care of your babies during the day. Many families resort to the use of a night nanny or night nurse. This is a costly exercise but as many will tell you, even one or two nights off a week can give mom and dad some sanity.
What is the difference between a night nurse and a night nanny?
The biggest difference would be the qualifications. A night nurse is exactly as it states, a qualified nurse who has worked either in the maternity ward, paediatrics or NICU. A night nanny has a certificate for care work and completed her practicals. Both could have also completed a basic sleep-training course.
What do they earn?
A night nanny earns between R300 and R350 a night for a 12-hour shift, whereas a night nurse earns between R350 and R450 a night depending on her experience and the needs of your babies.
What do I need to provide for my night nurse?
The only real requirement is a comfortable armchair in the room for her to sit on. Some households have a single bed in the room if there is enough space. This is not always recommended as you don’t want your nurse falling into a deep sleep. Another option is to allow the nurse to sit in the lounge and watch TV quietly if you have baby monitors that she can use. Meals are not expected, but tea and coffee and a light snack is something that should be available for her during the night.
Can I use a night nurse if I am breastfeeding?
Most definitely. The nurse will come and wake you up at the time you specified and assist you with breastfeeding. She may help you with latching if you are struggling. She will then burp your babies as they finish drinking, change their nappies and put them back to sleep. This assistance reduces your awake time and you don’t need to stay in the room and try to settle them. If one of your babies drinks slowly, this gives you time to bond with him while his sibling is being attended to.
What are the duties of a night nurse?
If it fits into your schedule your night nurse or nanny can bath the babies when she arrives. She will then prepare the bottles, feed your babies, burp them and put them down to sleep. The nurse will also empty the nappy bins and wash and sterilise bottles before she leaves in the morning. You can also expect her to keep a chart so that you know what time the babies ate, how much they ate and if they had any dirty nappies.
What are the working hours of a night nurse?
The most common is shift is from 6pm to 6am or 7pm to 7am. The seven-to-seven option is usually better as this allows the night nurse time to hand over to any day caregivers that may be arriving.
What should I look for when interviewing potential candidates?
- The ideal candidate would have ideally worked in a home with multiples before. A hospital-trained candidate is not necessarily the best option, because she has had many hands to help her while on shift, so she may not have taken sole care of a child for 12 hours. A former night nanny will have taken care of multiples on her own for 12 hours, and this is the type of reference you want.
- You would also want to know if she knows about sleep training and if it is a method you approve of. An important question you could ask is, how will she feed two babies at the same time and then put them down to sleep?
- It’s essential that you feel a connection with the candidate. The bedroom is small and if you are breastfeeding you are going to be spending a lot of time with her. You don’t want to hire someone who you clash with.
- Some moms want a nurse that comes in and takes over. Other moms would prefer a nurse that listens to their requirements and follows the routine set out by them, even if it is not something the nurse approves of. Again, this is a personal choice.
These are just some of the pointers for hiring a night nurse. In my opinion, it is a life-saver – a mom who has slept can manage during the day; a mom who has not slept will be tired, and this leads to many other problems. Don’t be scared to ask for help even if it’s only for one or two nights a week.
Where do I find a night nurse or night nanny?
There are many agencies who offer placement of night nurses. Aupairs Exclusive has been placing night nurses in Gauteng and KZN for 10 years. Visit their website (www.aupairsexclusive.co.za) for more info.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.