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Maternity Nurses - Any strong feelings pro or con?

21 replies

Wobbly · 04/01/2003 15:04

Hello one and all, I hope I've found the correct discussion board for this topic and haven't missed an existing string which has covered the topic. I'm expecting my first baby in mid-April and I was wondering about the benefits of a maternity nurse for the first week or two once you've given birth.

Has anyone had any particular experiences good or bad? I'm hugely alarmed at the enormous expense but a lot of my friends have said it was a great reassurance to have someone there who knew what they were talking about. Another friend who didn't have one ended up phoning Samaritans after a couple of months as her baby was so colicky and never slept and this problem was sorted two days after calling in a maternity nurse as an emergency measure.
Equally, other friends have said it's the biggest waste of money.
Also, if I can't find anyone available through personal recommendation, how do I find a good and yet affordable maternity nurse? I've heard they can be really, really expensive.
My Mum who is based at the other end of the country says she will come and help me but she's in her sixties and seems a little fazed by the idea. I'm sure we'll manage but I'd be grateful for any opinions - sorry to ramble on but it's hard to know what's what...

OP posts:

aloha · 04/01/2003 15:17

I have known people complain bitterly about the bossiness of their maternity nurse who did all the fun stuff with the new baby while they still had the housework to do. A rich friend of mine whose dh is permanently away on business hired a housekeeper to come in for a few months. She did all the housework, ironing etc and was also there to mind the baby while my friend had a shower/nap etc, helped run the baby's bath etc. It seemed like bliss to me! If I had another, I would welcome any help from my mum, but (if finances permit) also get my cleaner who adores ds to come in three mornings a week so I didn't feel so overwhelmed by the house. Most maternity nurse agencies recommend they come in for at least a month which is terrifyingly expensive. A doula is cheaper, will support you in caring for the baby if that really worries you, as well as helping cook and do housework which maternity nurses defintely won't do!


RoseAnne · 04/01/2003 23:06

Dear Wobbly.
No need to be - I can fully recommend a Maternity Nurse if you are looking for someone to give practical help aswell as advice and reassurance. We have 3 month old twin girls and had a Maternity Nurse for the first 6 weeks, living in for 5 days a week. They are expensive, but well worth it - we had ours doing all the night feeds, which meant that for those first 6 weeks I could get a good nights sleep. By the time she left, we knew exactly what we were doing and the girls were into a regular feeding routine. Having someone professional on hand means that you have time to take stock of what's happening to you and how to cope with the early pressures of parenthood.

Choosing a suitable Maternity Nurse can be tricky - I fully intended to get a "motherly-type" with age and experience behind her, but ended up going by gut feeling and employing a fairly young, but very experienced Nurse who fitted in perfectly with our way of life. At the end of the day, you need to choose someone who you can live with. I would certainly redcommend employing someone prefessional rather than relying on family help - it is not easy trying to be firm with family and mixing family and business rarely works. Save your mum's help for those special times.

There are plenty of agencies on the Internet; we used to find our Nurse. I think it was the only website where you could read a variety of CV's.

...well that's just one opinion. But I hope it helps you to come to a decision.


Jimjams · 05/01/2003 10:31

Can you wait and see how you get on, and hire someone at the last minute if need be? (I don't know how these things work so I have no idea if that is possible). The reason I say that is you don't know how you'll be once you give birth. You may hate the thought of letting anyone else even hold your baby for the first month (I know plenty of people who've been like that). It's not something you're really going to know until the baby is born.

The best support comes from other in the same situation. Are you doing any antenatal classes? Or pregnancy yoga or something? My NCT class had 8 couples- all first time mums. We met weekly to begin with (then more often) and spoke on the phone regularly. We all reassured each other that we didn't have the faintest idea about what we were doing, but that it was probably going to be OK. Cheaper than a maternity nurse! And more fun!

I think getting a housekeeper or extra cleaning is a good idea if you're going to worry about the state of the house.....


ANGELMOTHER · 06/01/2003 18:42

Wobbly, if you can afford one DO! I intend to hire one for my next (currently trying) as I had a great experience last time. My first was born in Holland and over there ALL mothers receive what is known as a Kramzorg for 8 days post birth. Everyday she came at 8am took baby while I had shower, changed bed, prepared b/fast, did all housework and only left in late afternoon. I realise here it will be more dificult to find one as easily but with a first child you really are blown away by the experience and you need all the help you can get, not because you either can't or don't know what to do because you do but simply because it is amazing and you are in shock...
Best of luck


bundle · 06/01/2003 18:58

not wishing to pour cold water on things...but unless I had an exceptional situation (no family, twins arriving) then I would hate to have someone in my house at such an intimate and family-centred time. ok you'll feel fresher but reality bites sooner or later (around 6 weeks in for me with dd was when I first felt tearful, overwhelmed etc). Doulas (lots of discussion on this site about them) seem to have a more flexible role than maternity nurses but I suppose it's horses for courses..good luck


bundle · 06/01/2003 19:00

oh - and I agree with getting more hours from say a cleaner, and maybe ordering your supermarket run online if you can and persuading friends to turn up at your house with microwavable meals from M&S, cream cakes and a cheery "I'll look after the wee one for half an hour while you have a lie down/shower"


bells2 · 07/01/2003 09:09

I personally loathe the idea of a maternity nurse as I cannot imagine someone else sleeping in the room with my newborn baby and also just watching over me at such a special time. I also really do not like the fact that so many of them seem to measure their success by getting the baby to sleep through the night at a very young age.

I know quite a few people who have used them and while many have raved about them, I can think of 4 horror stories off the top of my head. These range from actively discouraging breastfeeding (2 cases) to causing trouble between husband and wife.

Aside from anything else, you may be blessed and have a very easy baby. I remember thinking that with my daughter, employing a maternity nurse would have been just like setting fire to £20 notes as she was a dream as a newborn. Personally I would prefer to use the money on a good holiday.


aloha · 07/01/2003 10:11

Whatever the situation in Holland, believe me, you won't find a maternity nurse in the UK who'll change your bed and do your housework! They are more like super-nannies, and won't touch your housework, won't cook for you and don't even have to make you a cup of tea. They are there purely to get the baby into a routine. I did think of one in desperation when ds was still night waking at six months plus but couldn't face another person with us 24hours a day in our little house, taking over the baby while I did the chores! A doula has a more flexible role and will help out with other things that just getting the baby into a routine.Most maternity nurses are not very pro breastfeeding either, as that sort of defeats the point of them - if you are doing the night feeds because you've got the bosoms! If you don't intend to breastfeed, then it might make more sense, but that would be such a shame IMO, to give up something that's so fantastic for your baby just because someone else might be better at looking after your baby than you. I do think everyone needs help with a baby though, and a doula or a more regular cleaner/babysitter who will take the pram out while you sleep seems like a better use of the cash to me. Maternity nurses cost up to £1000 a week, I seem to remember, plus you have to supply all their food, and provide a room for them. As others have said, you may have a dream newborn anyway, so it's probably worth waiting and seeing, or get a doula who does more what Angelmother described.


Bugsy · 07/01/2003 10:20

I used a maternity nurse to help out from 6pm until midnight for a couple of weeks after dd was born. DH was working abroad, my mum was ill, dd was colicky and ds needed a fair amount of settling in the evening too.
I found her very helpful but would not have enjoyed her company 24/7. She was unable to offer any great insights into how to prevent or help colic, which I found hugely disappointing given that GF said she never had a baby with colic!
You can hire a maternity nurse at very short notice, so if I were you Wobbly I would wait and see how you are getting on. If you need one, hire one when you are ready to start paying.
Good luck with all your preparations.


Lindy · 07/01/2003 20:55

Wobbly - don't write off your mother's offer of help, my mother was also in her (late) 60s when I had my DS & lived the other side of the country - but she came for a week & was a wonderful help. Also agree with the comments about getting help with the housework, my parents were keen to buy the cot/pram etc but we borrowed all those (& DH hates accepting expensive presents) & so the very best present I had was three months worth of cleaning lady - didn't bother to tell DH!


forest · 08/01/2003 10:32

I have to agree with bells2 - I would have hated having someone else looking after dd at a time when I was getting to know her. Those first few weeks are magical (and no I didn't have a good sleeper) and I just could not imagine having a stranger in my house telling me what I shoud be doing. That to me was one of the pleasures of having your own baby - you do what YOU want not what anyone tells you. Oh, I'm feeling broody now thinking about those first weeks, I do miss them although I love every day with dd.
Enjoy your pregnacy Wobbly.


Enid · 08/01/2003 11:35

Get a cleaner/mothers help rather than a maternity nurse. Are you planning to breastfeed? In that case a maternity nurse won't be much help. As bells says, you may have a very easy baby and it could be a waste of money.

On the other hand, having someone around to do the housework and make meals, wash clothes etc would be a godsend.

Oh the bliss of imagining hours langouring on the sofa, new babe in one arm and box of chocs in the other while Mary Poppins whisks round making everything lovely...


bloss · 09/01/2003 01:57

Message withdrawn


elliott · 09/01/2003 09:55

Enid, I was lucky enough to have just such the person you describe - he's DH! OK, he only had 2 weeks at home fulltime, but I remember feeling very proud of myself the first time I helped to put some laundry away about 10 days after ds was born - felt like I was starting to 'emerge' again - and it must have been ages before I cooked a meal...


prufrock · 09/01/2003 11:56

My DH was this wonderful person as well - and I was far happier giving my baby to him than to an outsider - however wonderful and experienced. I also felt that he should have to "suffer" along with me.
The best person to know what your baby wants are it's parents - honestly you will soon learn what to do, however daunting it feels at first.
help with meals was most useful for me - My Mum filled my freezer whilst I was in hospital, and after that the local takeaways were well used.


forest · 09/01/2003 12:08

Am I really the only one that did not find it difficult having a new baby in the house? I remember being full of energy, so happy and excited that I was postively glowing. I managed to cook, clean (standards have never been particulary high though), entertain whilst bfing almost every hour day and night. I found having a wee sleep in the afternoon to be very useful. I just loved loved loved having a newborn baby as it was all so amazing (still is).


Jimjams · 09/01/2003 14:34

Forest- I'm with you totally. DS1 was born following an 18 hour labour and emergency c- section but the first few weeks were absolutely wonderful. DH took 2 weeks off and it was great. I remember those early motnhs as being a lovely time. DS2 was harder work but he did have an infection, we were selling our house and DS1 was being diagnosed with autism and I'd had another section. I think I would have found a maternity nurse even more hassle though. Someone else in my house- no thanks.


ellasmum · 09/01/2003 14:38

Don't know much about maternity nurses but had a doula when I reached my wits end with DD at about 8 weeks.

She was great and was willing to do virtually anything in the house baby related or not. What I found really useful was talking to her about DD and bouncing thoughts and ideas off of her. She didn't really have any great solutions but it was just good to have a chat with someone who had more than 8 weeks experience of a baby.


Wobbly · 09/01/2003 18:04

Dear everyone

Thanks so much for all your responses, they've been such a help. I think, from what I've read that I'll save my money and invest in some extra days from a cleaner. I'm quite chilled and luckily the pregnancy has not been too problematic this time (fingers crossed earlier ones have gone wrong etc) and that probably augurs well. I've spoken to my mum and actually I think she'd really love to come down and it would probably be a further good bonding time for us as mother and daughter too.

DH gets on brilliantly with her too so it could be a v positive experience all round while we get to know the baby. I'm really excited about the whole thing. As suggested we can always call for reinforcements at a later stage if necessary.

This really has helped me out so thanks to you all.

One extra question though - what's a doula?

OP posts:

Flanny · 10/01/2003 17:39

Translation pls -


prufrock · 11/01/2003 15:36

d = darling/dear, so dd is darling daughter, ds is darling son, dh/p husband/partner.

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