night nurse breastfeeding

Is it worth it to hire a night nanny if I am breastfeeding?

Typically, yes. Hi! We are a “night nanny” agency. Which means that we have a team of newborn care specialists and postpartum doulas that provide in-home overnight support to new parents. Some weeks we talk to as many as 50 inquiring parents wanting to understand how our services work. “Is it helpful to hire a night nanny if I am planning to breastfeed?” Is one of our most commonly asked questions! Let me tell you what I tell them.

Is this your first baby?

Congratulations new parent! [First off, this blog is to educate, not to strike fear into your heart. Many many parents take care of their babies without overnight support and do just fine!] However, it’s important to understand that babies do not just wake up to eat. Let me give you a sample of a typical night with a brand-y new baby.

Sample night with a night nanny and a breastfeeding parent:

  • 10pm: Night support arrives, mom is finishing breastfeeding and we take the baby to our space
  • 10:15pm: Baby is burped, swaddled, cuddled, soothed and asleep by 10:20
  • 10:30pm: Baby does a huge poop in their diaper! Changed, swaddled, cuddled, soothed and asleep by 10:40
  • 11pm: Baby makes gurgling noises, but is still asleep
  • 11:10pm: More gurgling
  • 11:30: Baby cries out but is still asleep
  • 11:45: Baby starts to grunt and fuss and wiggle. We offer a pacifier and baby falls back to sleep
  • 12:30: Baby starts to fuss and wake up. This baby is on a 3 hour feeding schedule so we spend the next 20 minutes cuddling baby and offering a pacifier until they tell us they are hungry
  • 12:45: We bring baby into mom, help her get into a comfortable position, bring her water, ensure that baby does a full feeding, and then we take baby back after

So you see, even though we still need the breastfeeding parent every few hours, we are ensuring that they have the ability to sleep in between feedings. Every time your baby fusses, grunts or even changes their breathing pattern the urge is to be awake and staring into their little faces to make sure that they are okay! We listen out so that you don’t have to.

After a couple of weeks when breastfeeding is established, the parent can choose if they want to keep being baby to the breast or if they want to pump instead. Whether pumping or breastfeeding, it’s important to choose the method that both gets the breastfeeding parent the most sleep and also supports the breastfeeding supply/relationship.

Night nannies get babies to sleep better over time!

Okay now that you understand what it is like having a new baby we might have already sold you on support. But if we haven’t yet, this next point often does!

Again, we don’t have just “night nannies”, our team members are experienced and educated Newborn Care Specialists that work with babies doing something called sleep conditioning. What this means is that with our skills [and the energy to implement] we are able to get babies sleeping slightly better night by night, week by week!

Did you see in the example above that the baby woke up 2.5 hours after their last feeding. 9/10 parents would roll over and feed their baby and get the heck back to sleep! What that does, however, is encourage a 2.5 hour waking for the next feeding and the next night. We don’t push hungry babies, and we don’t do crying babies, but we are able to gently hold them off until they show true hunger cues. We also ensure a full feeding on both breasts. We make sure that we are burping the baby to make room, and that we are waking them if they fall asleep feeding. A full feeding means that they are nice and full for the next couple of hours! Over weeks and months that 3 hour stretch turns into 4,5,6+++

Parents that have support are statistically more likely to continue breastfeeding!

All of our team members have experience supporting breastfeeding parents. You tell us your goals and we will support you through them

If you are having a difficult night we will help you get through until the morning where you are fresh enough to make long lasting decisions. There is no shame in a 2am formula bottle, but parents sometimes regret introducing formula if they didn’t do it in the right frame of mind.

We understand hunger cues and signs that baby is/is not getting enough. If we notice any red flags we will recommend lactation support and/or potentially supplementation. Otherwise, we will encourage you that your baby is doing excellent and all of the struggles are normal.

Should I delay starting with overnight support if I am breasfeeding?

That is up to you as a parent. Most parent underestimate the level of exhaustion after leaving the hospital. And for the aforementioned reasons [sleeping in between feedings and establishing an excellent breastfeeding relationship from the start] we do recommend starting when you return home.

However, some parents really just want to be in their own little parent bubble the first couple weeks. I do recommend making sure that you make a plan with your partner so that both are getting designated time to rest. And also that you reach out to outside lactation supports to have them in place in case you are struggling.

If you want to delay a start, just let your night support know ahead of time so that they can work that into the start date!

Have any other questions about night support and breastfeeding?