Bringing your newborn home from the hospital can be both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. You've waited so many months and they are finally here, in your arms, in the room you've been preparing for them. But then reality sets in and you find yourself utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. In some cases, it may make sense for your family to bring in a newborn care specialist (NCS) to help you adjust to your new normal—and to get some much-needed sleep. Here, discover exactly what a newborn care specialist is and what you need to know about hiring one.
Newborn Care Specialist vs. Night Nurse
If the term "newborn care specialist" sounds unfamiliar, the term "night nurse" might not. While these have been used interchangeably in the past, they sometimes referred to two different types of providers. A night nurse may not have the same accreditations as a newborn care specialist, and the term has more recently grown outdated.
A newborn care specialist, sometimes referred to as an NCS, is someone certified in newborn health and care. A NCS typically works at night, allowing parents to get some rest during the early days of their baby's life.
For babies who are breastfeeding, the NCS will bring the baby to the breastfeeding parent during the night then take them back once they've finished feeding, adds Ashley Fairchild, a newborn care specialist with Nightingale Night Nurses, a Massachusetts-based newborn care agency. "If they are bottle-fed, we take over complete care," Fairchild adds. "As the baby grows, we help with hitting milestones, talking to parents about what baby should be doing, how much they should be eating, and setting up a loose sleep schedule."
While a typical shift for a NCS is eight hours overnight, such as 10pm to 6am, they can also work longer shifts or even stay with a family round the clock during those first weeks. In these cases, the NCS may take on additional duties outside of strictly overnight care.
"Newborn care specialists will often do baby-related duties such as organizing the nursery and maintaining supplies related to baby care, such as breast pumps, bottles, pacifiers, and baby laundry," says Andrea Hedley, the Founder and Executive Director of the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA). "Some are willing to help with additional duties such as family meals, laundry, sibling and pet care. However, those things usually fall outside the general duties of a newborn care specialist and are on a case-by-case basis negotiated between the caregiver and the family."