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Sarah Norris – The Baby Detective

What can a Maternity Nurse do for you?
July 23, 2015

What can a Maternity Nurse do for you?

Firstly, what is a Maternity Nurse ?

I know the name implies that we are medically trained, but in fact, the name comes from the term ‘nursing’, as in breastfeeding (many years ago part of the role would have included wet nursing). To all intents and purposes, a maternity nurse is a very specialised, self-employed baby nanny, but one which, if required, works 24 hours a day, 6 days a week, for a specified number of days, weeks or months.

We used to be called Monthly Nurses because we stayed for 4 weeks to help mums get over the birth, but nowadays, in response to a much more diverse clientele, there are maternity nurses to fit just about every niche you can think of.

Eden Maternity, the agency I work through, list the following on their books:

Bilingual Maternity Nurses

Daily Maternity Nurse

Emergency Maternity Nurses UK and Overseas

Full Time Maternity Nurses 24 hour

Starter Maternity Nurse

Kraamzorg Maternity Nurses

Maternity Nanny

Night Maternity Nurses

Overseas Maternity Nurses

Postnatal Trouble Shooting Consultants

Sleep Consultant

Twins or Triplet Maternity Nurse

As you can see from the list, there is a lot of choice if you feel you are in need of some help

You can book in advance, and get a 24/6 maternity nurse for however long you want, to give you time to recover from the birth, and help with feeding, routine, nights etc. and leave you ready to take over when she leaves.

This can be expensive though, so you can have someone for 2 or 3 days a week, or just days, or just nights.


A Starter maternity nurse is capable in her job, but not yet very experienced so are excellent for second or third time families who know what they are doing but need the extra help. This gives the maternity nurse hands on training, but charge less money so making a more affordable option.

If you find yourself struggling due to illness or complications, or a difficult baby etc., agencies usually have on their books maternity nurses who either have a gap to fill, or prefer not to book themselves up in advance and these are available for emergency, last minute jobs, and can sometimes start the next day if you are very lucky.

There are some (insane ! lol) individuals who prefer, and specialize in, multiple births, and others whose can come in for a short time to troubleshoot specific problems such as sleep, routine, breastfeeding or weaning baby from breast to bottle.

Duties of the Maternity Nurse

The aim of a good maternity nurse should be to help you cope with the baby whilst she is there, and prepare you thoroughly for when she leaves.

A good maternity nurses should have sound, basic knowledge of all aspects of baby care and should be able and willing to answer any questions you have.

She should also help and support you whilst feeding is being established, using whichever method you choose, giving practical help such as getting baby to latch on to the breast, making sure you are comfortable, and have everything you need for a feed.

She should be able to teach you how to wind, change, bathe, dress, handle and bottle feed your baby, and help you safely use any other equipment such as prams, monitors, car seats, slings, and travel cots.

It is also her responsibility to keep the nursery clean and tidy, and to clean and sterilize all bottles, pacifiers, nipple shields and pumping equipment, and to prepare bottle feeds.

Above and beyond this, the best maternity nurses can become a calm, reliable and supportive friend at what can be a very emotional and stressful time, there when you need her, but discreet in her absence when you want to spend time alone with your baby, or as a family.

She should also be willing to help teach your partner, and other people involved in your babies care such as relatives or current nanny so everyone feels confident.

If the situation arises, your maternity nurse can also help with ‘strategic manoeuvres’ such as limiting numbers of visitors, making sure one grandparent doesn’t hog the baby and upset the other, subtly removing an overtired baby from social situations, reminding dads to give mum a hand, reminding mum to allow dad to help out, or protecting/defending mum from critical and unhelpful friends/relatives/health practitioners etc.

A large part of the maternity nurse’s duties involve helping set up whatever sort of routine you want in place, and help with settling baby at night and for daytime sleeps, finding the right routine for the situation, and to take on night feeds where possible or appropriate so the parents can get some much needed sleep. The MN usually sleep in the nursery, or in a spare room with the baby in a moses basket and if mum is breastfeeding, she will bring the baby in to her for a night feed, then take the baby to wind and settle, so mum can go straight back to sleep.

The MN is also there to help take care of the mum by making sure she gets enough rest, making cups of tea or bringing water, and monitoring her for any signs of illness, anxiety or depression. Some MN’s are willing to make light snacks, and others actually enjoy cooking for the mum or the family but this is on a voluntary basis and should not be presumed upon.

The MN is not there to clean, iron, shop, or look after older children or pets, or run errands (or to ‘look after the husbands needs’…(honestly, I have heard of this actually being requested, lol). If she offers to do any of these things (apart from the husband’s needs !) then she is being very generous and should be very much appreciated. However, she should also be aware that she is living in a family environment and, unless the house is heavily staffed, should tidy up after herself so she doesn’t make extra work for you.

The best MN, with the most experience have learned how to adapt themselves to fit in to any household, and to any situation whether that be a small flat, a huge mansion, hotels, hospitals, travel abroad, family emergencies, unexpected visitors, motorway breakdowns, power failures, celebrity clients etc. and all the time, be calm, good humoured, efficient, and basically indispensable but be prepared to book early because they are in great demand.

As they get more experienced, some MN become experts in particular fields, such as sleep training, reflux, premature babies, colic, multiple births, surrogacy, adoption, winding, baby wearing, particular routines, weaning babies from breast to bottle, Post Natal Depression, special needs etc. so if you do have a particular problem it is worth trying to find one of these specialists.

I hope this has given you some ideas as to whether or not a MN can give you the help you need, and in future posts I will be covering:

  • Where to Find Your Maternity Nurse
  • How to Get the Best from Your MN
  • What Happens When Things go Wrong with Your Maternity Nurse
  • How to be a good Maternity NurseLet me know if you have any questions or suggestions for future plots by getting in touch!







Why does my baby cry so much in the evenings ?

Some babies really struggle in the evenings, being restless, difficult to feed, crying, or even having major meltdowns…just when you are at your most tired after caring for them all day.

So you head off to Google or online mum groups and you hear terms like Evening Colic, or The Witching Hour, and that’s what we are going to look at in this blog.


Firstly, the term colic is not a diagnosis of a particular problem, it is a description of a pattern of behaviour…basically it describes a baby that cries excessively for 3 hours or more, 3 or more times a week.

As you can see, it’s a very loose description, and the excessive crying can be caused by any number of things, including hunger, tiredness, wind, reflux, illness, pain, teething, over handling, over stimulation.

It can also be a mix of several of these and its your job as a parent to try and figure out what is wrong and deal with it.

What is Evening Colic ?

This is much the same.

It describes a baby that cries excessively during the evening (usually from around 5 or 6pm through to 10 or 11pm, or even later if you are really unlucky).

It is more common in younger babies, under 5 months, but can go on much longer if the cause is not discovered.

We still have to play detective and figure out what is going on, but in this case, a major factor is usually overtiredness and/or over stimulation, along with hunger.

A baby has to cope with so many new things once they are born including learning how to latch on to bottles or teats, drink and breathe at the same time, they are feeling discomfort and pain from their own insides that they can’t understand or do anything about.

Their senses are bombarded by light, sound, movement, textures, tastes, smells, and all the interaction from people around them.

Their brains are in overdrive trying to process all this and its overwhelming and exhausting which is one of the reasons babies need so much sleep.

Naps help, but what they really need is some deep sleep so their subconscious can get on with trying to make sense of it all, so by the time evening comes they have just had enough.

They are exhausted and stressed, sometimes too stressed to eat or go to sleep so they get frustrated, and the only way they have to express themselves is by screaming

Tips to Help You Cope

Once you understand what is going on, it makes it easier for us to figure out ways to help them, such as

  • Try to make sure they get lots of sleep through the day (at least 1 hour of good solid sleep before each feed)
  • Make everything calmer in the evenings by turning down lights and music/tv, and getting rid of visitors. Sometimes the best thing is to remove baby to a dark quiet room, and use gentle music or white noise.
  • Handle them gently, rock, sway and walk around, and talk or sing to them soothingly.
  • Don’t make them wait for a feed. It won’t hurt to bring a feed forwards if it avoids baby getting wound up.
  • Make feeding as easy as possible.

**If you are breastfeeding you can try expressing or using formula from a bottle just for this feed.

**If you think your milk supply could be low (very common at this time of day) then try topping baby up with expressed milk or formula to make sure they have a full tummy.

  • Wind thoroughly but use gentle, passive positions and movements.
  • Swaddle baby so they feel secure, and you can even swaddle them to feed and during winding
  • Take turns with your partner if you have one. It is no easy thing dealing with a crying or screaming baby and can easily stress parents so being able to hand them over to someone else whilst you take a break will make a huge difference – don’t both sit there trying to calm baby, take it in turns.
  • Warm deep baths where baby can float and relax can really help. Turn lights down low, make bathroom warm, you can even get in there with baby if you think that will help. Candles are lovely if you can do it safely.
  • Make bottles a bit warmer than usual.
  • If nothing else works then try using a sling if your back is up to it.

Evening colic get better as baby gets older and they become better able to cope with the world, so if its really bad, just do the best you can to help them, and remember that it will end, it’s not forever.

Older babies can also go through temporary patches of evening colic if they are experiencing developmental changes, or if they are teething or starting nursery or during illness, just remember it is an expression of serious ‘end-of-day-itis’ so try and help them as best you can by managing them and removing all the stress factors you can think of.

I hope this has given you some insight into the problem, and some ideas about how to cope with it if you experience evening colic at any time, but if you have any questions or need more help, I’m always happy to help in my free FB group The Baby Buzz where I hang out every day…I love talking about all things baby 🙂

Sarah x





The Author

I’m Sarah Norris, a Baby Care Consultant and Parenting Coach.

I have spent over twenty five years, often working 24 hours, 6 days a week, supporting hundreds of families with new or young babies aged from newborn to 12 months old, and often helping with their toddlers and older children.

I help parents discover what parenting style they want to use to care for their baby, and offer advice on different approaches that might suit them and their circumstances best.


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