Doulas, Night Nurses, Mother's Helpers and Nannies. Which is right for you?

You may have heard these terms used while you were pregnant when it comes to finding help for your family once baby arrives. 

As a postpartum doula, I often run into a lot of confusion about what kind of care they are looking for.  Here is a guide to some of the main options for care so that you can see what will work for you.

1)  Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula comes to your home and "mothers the mother".  It's her main job to help families transition to motherhood.  This can encompass breastfeeding help, teaching newborn care skills, preparing light meals and snacks for new moms, answering questions on postpartum recovery, or sometimes just holding your newborn while you take a shower or nap.  Postpartum Doulas may help families during the day or for overnight shifts, where they will help watch the baby so that mothers can get more rest.  Postpartum doulas are trained by various organizations, and some may be certified.  They can also spot possible signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, and make proper referrals to other professionals who can assist with things that may be out of scope for them.

2)  Night Nurses

Sometimes also called "baby nurses" or "night nannies", these women are often not actually trained in nursing.  Their primary job is to look after the baby at night.  They usually, though not always, work with bottle feeding families, and the mother's postpartum care is not in their scope of practice. 

3)  Mother's Helpers

Mother's helpers come into your home and keep your baby and children occupied while a caregiver is home but otherwise preoccupied.  Mother's helpers are an economical choice and work well when moms just need a break.  Like night nannies, their primary function is to care for the children and they are not trained in mother's postpartum recovery.

4)  Nannies

A nanny can work with children of any age, and are usually hired through referrals or a nanny agency.  Again, they look after the baby/child, not the mother.  A nanny can be an alternative child care arrangement in place of daycare, and are usually employed once mom's get close to returning to work.  Some nannies may also do some light housework, meal preparation, and errands (especially if the children are older and in school).  Nannies can live in (meaning living in the home) or be live out (typically more expensive than live in).  Nannies are usually employed full time (40+ hours a week), so this is a great choice for someone looking for full time childcare.

Many families use a mix of the above care providers or transition providers as their baby gets older. 

Did you use any of these services?  Comment below and let us know!