What is overnight newborn care anyway blog-2

What is Overnight Newborn Care?

We often get asked:                                     What is overnight newborn care?

  •  “What do you actually do?”
  •  “If I’m nursing how is this service helpful?”
  • “How many nights should I book?”

Let’s talk about it! 

Nightingales offers a variety of services. From travel 24/7s, to respite 1-2 nights, from parent coaching, to sleep trainings…but our most popular service is our overnight contracts. Parents connect with us during pregnancy and ask us to cover a certain amount of nights during their baby’s infancy. Sometimes this is 2 nights, and sometimes it’s 7 nights. Sometimes it’s 2 weeks and sometimes it’s 16.

Anything less than 3 nights a week is more of a respite service. We will come into your home at whatever stage you are at and support you in your nighttime process.

If you are breastfeeding:

breastfeeding, overnight newborn care

The first two weeks we will bring baby to the breast every 2/3 hours and/or when baby is showing hunger cues. But then we take the baby, burp the baby, and change the baby. Swaddle the baby, get the baby to sleep, and soothe the baby at times that they aren’t hungry.

After breastfeeding is established the breastfeeding parent can choose to set pumping alarms vs containing. to put baby to breast. This enables the Nightingale to offer a bottle to the baby. This enables us to monitor intake and more comfortably stretch baby’s feeds during the night. It also enables the parent to only be woken at predictable times and not need to fully rouse.

Many parents choose to continue to put baby to breast during the night, and our job is to make sure that we only wake the parent when the baby is actually hungry [we’re good at reading these types of things]. This saves the parent waking up to sleep noises or gas discomfort during the night.

If you are bottlefeeding:

overnight newborn care

From day one both parents can go to sleep for the full Nightingale’s shift. Sometimes we can even slip out in the morning if baby is still sleeping without waking anyone up!

We do all of the things we do for a nursing baby. We read their cues- see if they’re hungry or just need to be settled. And we handle changing, soothing, swaddling and anything that may arise during the night.

Sleep Conditioning

If you choose to book us for a longer chunk of time, as in, more than 3 nights a week for multiple weeks, then we can offer all of the above plus our sleep conditioning. If we’re with your baby for multiple weeks, we will start to learn their rhythms. If parents/caregivers are tracking during the day we are able to figure out baby’s patterns and recommend schedules and feeding amounts. What all this really means is: we are able to figure out when your baby is ready to do longer stretches at night! Once we know your baby is intaking enough and is capable of a longer stretch, we will consistently hold him to that stretch on our nights so it becomes a habit. We currently give all of our clients our magic book on baby care for free so we can work together cohesively.

Our goal is, if you have us at least 3 nights a week for the first 12 weeks, that your baby is doing an 8-12 hour stretch at night. That means baby is in bed for 12 hours and eating either 1x or 0x throughout the night. The more nights we are there and the more consistent parents/caregivers are, the easier and quicker this all comes together.

Your Expert Nightingale:

night nurse, baby nurse

If you have Nightingales come for an extended period of time you also get our expertise. You can text your Nightingale during the day if your baby is acting strange. You can ask us questions at the beginning or end of our shifts. We can offer guidance and advice if we see something while on our shift. This type of communication we leave up to the parents. Some parents want to sponge up our knowledge, while others prefer to utilize our physical service of offering sleep to their baby. We will not offer unsolicited advice unless we feel there is a safety harm to the baby.

So what is overnight newborn care? No no matter if you need one night of care, or 100. Whether you are looking for a night of sleep, or to learn how to get your baby to sleep well for years to come. We have the support you need!

Karina McCarthy

A Rhode Island native who has babies in her blood. A mom to a beautiful daughter and a lover of yoga and long naps.