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Hiring a night nurse is a wonderful way to support your whole family’s well-being. Professional overnight newborn care helps parents avoid the dangers of sleep deprivation and promotes lifelong healthy sleep habits for babies. Your night nurse, a Newborn Care Specialist or Postpartum Doula, is someone who will become like a part of your family. You’ll look forward to seeing her each scheduled night, and it’s essential that you choose the right night nurse for you. Training, experience, personality fit, and availability all factor into your choice. Here are 10 important questions to ask when hiring a night nurse.
1. Where were you trained?
Not all trainings are created equal. Ask your night nurse where and when she was trained. To learn more about the training organization, do some research. FOr example if you’re hiring a NCS, make sure the trained was NCSA-approved. The training should include important up-to-date information on caring for newborns such as safe sleep, safe breastmilk and formula storage, sleep conditioning, soothing, brain development and milestones, and breastfeeding and bottle feeding support. While your night nurse will not be trained to diagnose anything that may come up like specific types of diaper rashes, reflux, or postpartum mood disorders, it’s important that she was trained to recognize signs that warrant referring the parents to a specialist.
2. How many families/newborns have you supported?
For some families, a brand new night nurse might be a wonderful fit. New NCS’s and postpartum doulas are freshly trained with up-to-date research and are often quite eager to give the job their all. On the other hand, some new parents really need the comfort of a seasoned, experienced caregiver. Experienced night nurses have supported many different types of families and babies and often have a wide network of referrals should you need different kinds of support (like lactation consulting or pelvic floor therapy). Learn more about your potential night nurse’s experience to determine your level of comfort. Ask for written or verbal references to speak with the families she has served.
3. What is your vaccination status?
In this industry, your night nurse must be up front about her vaccination status. Ask if she’s up to date on COVID-19, seasonal flu, and other standard vaccines like Tdap. Ask what other precautions she takes to prevent the spread of illnesses, like handwashing.
4. Are you Infant CPR certified?
Infant CPR is an essential skill for night nurses. Though hopefully the ability to resolve choking or provide cardiopulmonary support will never come up, it’s very important that your night nurse is recently certified in these emergency skills.
5. What would a typical night look like?
Have your potential night nurse walk you through a typical night on the job. This is one of the most helpful questions to ask when hiring a night nurse because you learn about her philosophy and experience. She should be able to tell you what she likes to do upon first arriving (wash hands, check in with parents, fold baby laundry, etc.), how she might soothe a baby or help them stretch a feeding (once they’re old/big enough), how she can support different feeding arrangements (bringing baby to mom to nurse, bottle feeding), how she can support pumping (have mom text for night nurse to pick up pumped milk, wash pump parts), and how she makes sure parents will start the morning on the right foot (wash bottles, restock diapers and wipes).
6. What would you do if my baby was inconsolable?
You need to trust that your potential night nurse can handle a fussy baby. It’s essential that after your baby’s basic needs are met (well fed, dry diaper), your night nurse has the tools and patience to calm an overstimulated or uncomfortable baby. The world is a big place for newborns, and they can easily become overtired, overstimulated, or uncomfortable such as from digestive issues. An experienced and well-trained night nurse knows the subtle cues to look for when soothing a fussy baby. It’s also important that she factors in your parenting philosophy and knows to check in with you about how much or how little you want to be involved with soothing when she’s on the clock.
7. How do you support babies to form healthy sleep habits?
Your potential night nurse should be able to tell you helpful information on safe sleep, setting up a good sleep environment, sleep conditioning, swaddling, developmental milestones, and things parents can do during the day to promote better nighttime sleep (i.e. encouraging more calories during the day, sticking to a good nap routine).
8. How many nights per week is recommended and for how long?
How often and for how long you work with your night nurse is ultimately up to you (the parents) and your NCS’s availability/agreement. However, this question helps you understand how your potential night nurse can best support you, like what she recommends as a minimum to ensure baby has the best chance of sleeping through the night by the end of your contract.
9. What do you charge?
For many parents, this is one of the top questions to ask when hiring a night nurse. However, it’s important that you don’t start with this question. Once you have a good feel for what working with this potential night nurse could be like, ask about her rates and any specific packages or payment plans she has to offer.
10. Can we see your contract?
Once you feel like your potential night nurse could be a good fit, ask to see her contract. This will answer specific questions about her roles and responsibilities, things that might come up like sick days or emergencies, and what you as parents need to provide (i.e. a parking arrangement, a flat sleeping surface for her to rest upon and information about security cameras).