I created this NYC baby nurse guide for all of those first time moms to be, like me who have been scared senseless into finding a baby nurse for at least a few days or weeks after giving birth. First, I'll go through why in this day and age, we need baby nurses in the first place, besides being a Manhattan and certainly Upper East Side phenomenon. Then I'll go into what you can expect, services, and share some advice I have been given along the way through this process.
TOP REASONS FOR GETTING A BABY NURSE
Below are my main reasons for getting a nurse:
1) I've never changed a diaper
2) When other people offer me their newborns, I actually cringe inside because I am so nervous that I'll dent the baby's head or it will immediately sense my awkwardness and start to cry instantly.
3) I don't want to listen to my mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, etc. on what needs to be done when the last time they took care of an infant was 30 - 60 years ago.
4) What if I have a C-section or painful birth and can't walk around right away?
TOP REASONS FOR STICKING IT OUT SOLO
Here are the cons:
1) There's a strange woman in my tiny upper east side apartment for 2 weeks
2) I am paying a hefty price for this privilege. My current nurse on reserve quoted me $240 a day but I am trying to negotiate down. The cost of a baby nurse in NYC is $200 - $250. The going rate in Manhattan for a baby nurse is $240.
3) I am going to be following this woman around like a lost puppy and will probably feel inadequate as she does the bulk of the care-taking.
4) I am planning to breast feed so it's not like I could sleep through the night anyway.
ALL of the above was written by me before I gave birth to my daughter 5 months ago. I can now tell you that I did hire a baby nurse and I negotiated her fee down to $210 per day. We used her for 10 days and didn't realize how worthwile this was until the second week she was gone when we seriously debated calling her back in for another 2 weeks. Below are my list of tips for how to make the most of your baby nurse and how to prepare for her tenure with you:
1) Meet with your baby nurse IN PERSON. I stress this because much of baby nurse hiring in NYC is done via phone based on a friend of a friend's recommendation. This woman will be living in your home, eating dinner with you every night. You need to make sure that her personality meshes decently with yours so that you don't lose your mind. My baby nurse was great, but very chatty and there were definitely moments when I was sick of listening to her random stories. I am a pretty tolerant person so if you are not, please do yourself a favor and make sure you can get along with your nurse for the time period you have her.
2) If you have the space, rent a cot for the baby nurse to sleep on and try to give her a room, even if it's the nursery. Everyone has a small apartment in Manhattan and we were no exception. I had to temper my desire to have the nursery finished and looking pristine and perfect for a few weeks because we didn't want the baby nurse to sleep in the living room. Many baby nurses in NYC will sleep on your couch but this is not ideal because there is no escape, and no place for her to go during downtime. Also, most baby nurses are with you for 24 hours - day and night and they usually need to sleep for a bit during some part of the day - not ideal on the couch in the middle of your living room while you have company coming in to see the baby. We didn't build the crib until our baby nurse left and this annoyed me, but our daughter slept in her bassinet with us for the first 3 months anyway so the irritation I felt during that initial period was silly.
3) For the same reasons above, borrow a TV and put it in the baby nurse's room temporarily. Otherwise she will be watching TV with you on your couch.
4) Ask your baby nurse what she likes to eat and stock up at the supermarket, or send your hubby out to shop when you come home from the hospital. If you don't do this, you will be ordering in lunch and dinner and will have to order your baby nurse food every day. This adds up fast. Really ask her what she wants and try to get specifics because we bought food and STILL ended up ordering in a bunch of times and buying our baby nurse $17 salads.
5) If you are breast feeding, I highly recommend still giving your baby 1 bottle of formula at night as soon as possible if you are planning to stop after a few months. Or, as soon as your milk comes in, try to pump a bottle out. The baby nurse will get up at night and you can sleep. You NEED to catch up on sleep because it's vital to properly recover from labor and not get depressed. I tried to do too much and was up every night with the nurse, breastfeeding. Only at the end did I realize how exhausted I was. the last two days she was there I had her bottle feed two times at night and I wish I did this sooner.
6) Don't be annoyed or resentful when your baby nurse takes a break during the day. Ours would make sure to take 1 hour each day to do something for herself and we would sometimes get irritated. Everyone needs a break, especially when working 24 hour shifts for weeks at a time.
7) Don't be afraid to ask questions. Make sure your baby nurse teaches you how to give the baby a bath, how to sanitize bottles (if you breastfeed and supplement with bottles), techniques for swaddling, etc. These women are pros and it's easy to let them take on the bulk of the dirty work while they are there. I was in a panic towards the end because I wanted to make sure I knew how to do it all myself.
8) Ask your baby nurse to keep a food/changing log. During those first few weeks your biggest concerns will be how much did baby eat and how much did baby poop/pee. These logs are also useful to track any fussy periods.
9) Ask your baby nurse to put your little one on a 3 hour feeding schedule. This is something tough to do on your own at first because every time the baby cries you assume he or she is hungry. The baby nurse knows better and doesn't jump at every cry. Establishing a schedule from the start will help you on so many levels.