Diary of a Night Nanny: taking baby home

Georgie Bateman offers support and guidance to a new mum who’s unsure of how to breastfeed effectively

I turn up for my first night at Laura’s house to care for Polly, who is only three days old. Laura’s parents and parents-in-law live too far away to offer hands-on help, but have clubbed together to pay for my services. I had a lovely interview with Laura the day after she came out of hospital and she asked a multitude of questions about how she ‘should’ care for Polly; I told her that my role was to support her, not dictate what she should do, and that she would gradually find her own way.

This evening, Laura looks tired. “The family have all been to meet Polly, and of course they had to stay the night as they live so far away, so I’m quite shattered!”

Polly is sleeping peacefully so I suggest that Laura might like to have a bath and some time to herself. “I’ll come for you if Polly wakes up,” I tell her.

Laura wants to breastfeed and is worried about how that would work with another person caring for Polly overnight, but she quickly understands the benefits. When she comes back from her bath she sighs. “It’s so lovely not to be the one in charge for a short while!” she exclaims.

I pack her off to bed and take Polly to her nursery. There is a bed in the room for me; in the early days Polly won’t notice if she is sleeping with me in this room or with her mother in her parents’ room, The Lullaby Trust advises a baby should sleep with an adult to avoid the possibility of cot death. As she gets older, it will be important to keep her routine the same, as strong sleep associations will help her to develop good sleep habits. But for now, we focus on breastfeeding and take one day at a time.

I watch Polly as she sleeps, waiting for her to wake and feed. When she begins to wriggle and open her eyes, I pick her out of her Moses basket and take her into Laura’s room. I wake her and help her put Polly to her breast.

Laura’s milk hasn’t come in; she is still feeding her colostrum – rich, creamy milk which has been in her breasts since mid-pregnancy. Once her milk comes in, which will almost certainly be tomorrow, her breasts will feel fuller and it will be easier for Polly to latch on.

Laura looks down at Polly. “Is it working?” she asks.

“Yes,” I reassure her. “Look, you can only really see the side of her face, but all her muscles are moving. And she’s in a good position, her spine is straight and you are supporting her neck. Are you comfortable yourself?”

I give Laura a couple more pillows, one behind her back and another under Polly. Polly is so small at the moment that a little more padding under her helps to bring her level to Laura’s breast, so Laura doesn’t have to lean over Polly, and Polly isn’t pulling at the nipple.

“Whenever you sit down to breastfeed, make sure you are comfortable,” I tell Laura. “You could be sitting there for 40 minutes or so.” I discuss footstools, cushions and the importance of having water to hand to keep hydrated.

“Do you see how her sucking is more rhythmic now that she has settled into the feed?” I ask Laura. “Less frenetic and panicky? That’s a good sign.”

We watch Polly silently and I realise that Laura has nodded off. I smile and sit quietly, watching Polly to make sure she continues to take a good feed. When she has finished and she falls away from her mother’s breast, I pick her up. I pull the duvet over Laura, who snuggles down like a little girl rather than a new mother, and return to the nursery. There, I wind Polly and change
her nappy so she is comfortable. Like her mother, she can hardly keep her eyes open and I know when I put her down awake in her Moses basket, that she too will be asleep in seconds.

For more information contact: Georgie Bateman at Night Nannies on 01794 301762 | georgie@nightnannies.com | see Facebook page Night Nannies South of England