What is a Maternity Nurse and what is their importance to first time parents?


September, 2019

A maternity nurse is a highly qualified and experienced specialist dedicated to the care and well being of newborn babies. First time parents, although not exclusively will often call upon the services of a nanny agency to assist them in their search for a maternity nurse who will help them with everything a first time parent would need guidance with. Such specialists are not solely there to look after the baby but to ensure the parents, especially mummy gets some much needed rest, but also to guide them through all aspects of caring for their precious new addition to the family. Maternity nurses will be certified and will have worked with many children including newborns. It seems that a natural progression for a career nanny is to move towards maternity nursing if they have a natural warmth and instinct for infant care and supporting the whole family.

What can you expect from a maternity nurse?

The shift pattern of a maternity nurse can vary widely depending on the unique requirements of each family. Most of our clients tend to seek the assistance of a qualified childcare professional on a 24 hour basis for up to the first three months or even beyond, upon a harmonious placement and mutual agreement of course. However, there are night maternity nurses, day maternity nurses, specialist sleep consultants, twins and multiples maternity nurses and post natal trouble shooting maternity nurses.

  • A night maternity nurse will usually cover a 12 hour shift, for example from 7pm to 7am to assist with sleep routine and allow the parents to rest during this period
  • A day maternity nurse will cover hours during the day, for example 7am to 7pm
  • A specialist sleep consultant, this can double up as a night nanny and in person training or they may offer a telephone or video call consultants on to troubleshoot and advise you on regulating your baby’s sleeping patterns
  • Twins and multiples maternity nurses tend to choose to work with multiples wherever possible, they have a preference and great experience, “What’s better than one newborn baby. Well three of course!” You might hear one say!
  • Post natal troubleshooting maternity nurses will treat each baby and family uniquely and focus on the environment baby is in with a special focus on sleep, feeding and routine. These can either be arranged for home visits or telephone consultations to suit your needs. Some trouble shooters are highly skilled from newborns up to twelve years and can also assist later on with potty training, tantrums, behaviour, discipline and other issues your child may be facing at school etc.

The idea behind employing a maternity nurse is to ease the family into a routine that is safe and comforting for all of those involved in the care of the newborn baby(ies). The cost of a maternity nurse will somewhat vary from individual, however the general starting rate is £250 plus per day which can increase if there are twins or multiples or if the maternity nurse is relocating overseas. Of course, considering the cost not everyone is able to afford the services of a qualified maternity nurse however if that is a luxury that is available to you then it’s certainly worth considering. A 24 hour shift pattern does not mean that the parents will not spend time with their little bundle of joy, they will just have an assistant or addition to the family for a short period to gently guide them in the early stages.

A maternity nurse will be knowledgeable in establishing and maintaining healthy sleep and feeding routines. She will also show how it is best to clean and change the baby and what to do or what to use if the baby has any unfavourable symptoms, such as nappy rash. She will ensure parents know how best the baby should be held and lay down, ensuring the room temperature is correct and be able to guide feeding whether the mother has decided to breastfeed or bottle feed. Should the mother have any issues with breast feeding the experienced maternity nurse is more often than not able to troubleshoot and gauge very quickly what the issue may be before it has any emotional impact on mother or baby. Whether it be sore nipples, limited milk production, breast engorgement, mastitis, baby not latching on properly, a blocked milk duct, tongue tied baby etc. The maternity nurse should be able to advise which steps to take and how quickly they need to be taken to minimise any stress. 

Additionally, if your baby is suffering from reflux or colic and the crying feels like it’s endless your maternity nurse will be able to assist in keeping you calm during these distressing periods. They are truly incredible beings and can tell when a new mother needs her rest and when to advise she takes it so she can give her best to baby. They can take the lead where necessary or will let the parents lead, it really depends on the requirements of each individual family. The bond between the parents and the maternity nurse is extremely important. Often the childcare professional will join the family before the baby is born, in case baby arrives prematurely and to develop a bond with the parents ahead of time and go over their thoughts and guidelines and listen to their wishes. A professional and well organised maternity nurse will ensure she is prepared and keep a daily diary or report of all aspects of the babies care and routine so that everyone has this available to know how frequently baby sleeps or wakes, feeds, requires changing etc. 

The testimonials from clients that have employed maternity nurses are often the most beautiful we come across, they feel like they’ve been visited by a fairy godmother or guardian angel that sprinkles some magic, alleviating anxiety and establishing a comfortable environment for their family. In addition, the maternity nurse will ensure all aspects of baby hygiene are taken care of to exquisite standard.  

I’m sure some people may feel that this idea is odd, especially inviting someone new into your home at this special time, however a maternity nurses have such amazing instincts they will know when to be seen and heard and when not to be naturally, they are quick to gauge their surroundings and needs of those around them. The parents are able to have some time to themselves and maintain some much needed alone time. Although the shift pattern is generally 24/7 it is a standard clause in the contract that the maternity nurse shall be eligible for a minimum of three hours rest period per 24 hour shift which she may use to sleep, or as she wishes in order to carry out her duties with absolute professionalism.

What do you need to do to become a qualified maternity nurse and what can you expect to study?

To become a qualified maternity nurse as opposed to one with solely many years of experience is becoming more and more frequently sought after by families. It makes sense in a lot of ways, not only has the maternity nurse got experience but they have studied to be certified in this very important and delicate specialism which will prepare them for all areas of caring for newborns and infants. A company named Babyem who we recommend highly to our nannies that are considering moving into maternity nursing offer amazing courses that are not only online but also offer extensive study practical sessions with trained professionals so upon completion you can feel confident you are prepared. The beauty about such courses are that you are able to ask questions you may have there and then and have them all answered. You also get to meet other nannies with shared interests allowing you to share your knowledge of child rearing. 

Typical modules you can expect to cover whilst studying to become a maternity nurse are:

  • Sleep in newborns 
  • Working as a maternity nurse
  • Maternal anatomy
  • Infant first aid
  • Infant skin problems 
  • Colic and reflux in babies
  • Child development in babies 0-12 months
  • Meningitis and other serious illness
  • The effects on parents and babies
  • Health and care of post natal Mums 

There is also an option to study bonus modules to deepen your knowledge, these include;

  • Culture and diversity 
  • Child temperament 
  • Flat head syndrome 
  • Baby massage

What should you look for when hiring a maternity nurse?

MNT certification or NNEB 

  • Infant first aid certificate updated every couple of years
  • Previous and checkable references from happy families
  • A kind and gentle disposition 
  • Patience and flexibility 
  • Ask questions about the modules listed above during the interview stages in order to gauge their knowledge 
  • Meet them in person where possible before hiring and spend as much time with them as possible during this first meeting as your chemistry with her is important
  • Work with a nanny agency who can prescreen candidates for you
  • Ensure the maternity nurse has a cleared DBS (or relevant to their country of citizenship police clearance) for working with minors

Ensure the maternity nurse brings all original documentation to the interview when you meet.

What can you do for them?

We like to keep the balance right when offering advice, so what can you do for the maternity nurse entering your home at this wonderful time in your life you might ask? Job satisfaction is high on the priority list of a maternity nurse and that comes naturally when looking after a baby. However, like in all walks of life people love to feel appreciated and need to hear it from time. You could thank them for their amazing work that allowed you some much needed rest, they’ll be so happy that they were the person that allowed you to achieve that. Get to know a little about them, what do they like to drink, tea or coffee, do they have any special eating requirements? Would there be a time of day (assuming it works well with your family) that is best for her to take her break? Perhaps have a small toiletry bag or anything you might think that will help her settle into your household.

Our belief however, is the biggest companion to a harmonious placement is great communication. Ensure that your maternity nurse knows you are approachable to discuss all aspects of baby’s care and when the suitable time to do so each day is. When everything he is on the same page it’s a fantastic feelings and baby will pick up on the atmosphere you have so well created. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to let your maternity nurse be there for you emotionally, they are there to support and being a first time mother can often bring about a host of feelings that you didn’t expect, you will have a listening ear without judgement. Enjoy having an addition to give you and baby the best start together.

Check out some more blog posts below:

12 hacks for first time parents.

Baby-led weaning vs traditional