Bringing your little bundle of joy home from the hospital is like a whirlwind of emotions. You’ve been eagerly waiting for this moment, and now they’re here, nestled in your arms, in the room you’ve lovingly prepared for them. But let’s face it, reality can be a bit of a buzzkill. The exhaustion hits like a ton of bricks, and the overwhelming feeling sets in. In some cases, it might just make sense to call in some reinforcements – enter the newborn care specialist (NCS), your ticket to a little extra sleep and sanity. So, what’s the deal with NCS, and should you consider hiring one? Let’s dive right in.
What’s an NCS?
So, what exactly is this newborn care specialist, or NCS for short? Well, think of them as the baby whisperer with credentials. An NCS is a pro when it comes to the health and care of newborns. They usually work their magic at night, allowing weary parents to catch some much-needed Z’s during those early days of baby bliss.
For breastfeeding moms, NCS will make the magical handoff, bringing the baby to you for feeding during the night, and then tucking them back in once they’re done, says Ashley Fairchild, a newborn care specialist with Nightingale Night Nurses, a Massachusetts-based newborn care agency. If you’re bottle-feeding, they’ve got your back, taking over the complete baby care package. As your little one grows, they’ll help you navigate the milestones, offering guidance on what your baby should be up to, how much they should be chowing down, and even helping establish a loose sleep schedule.
The standard shift for an NCS is about eight hours overnight, say from 10 pm to 6 am, but they can also do longer shifts or even hang out with your family around the clock during those early weeks. In that case, they might take on some extra duties beyond just overnight care.
“Newborn care specialists often chip in with baby-related tasks like organizing the nursery and keeping baby supplies in check, like breast pumps, bottles, pacifiers, and handling baby laundry,” shares Andrea Hedley, the Founder and Executive Director of the Newborn Care Specialist Association (NCSA). “Some are even open to taking on additional responsibilities like family meals, laundry, looking after siblings and pets. But these things typically fall outside the standard duties of a newborn care specialist and are usually negotiated case by case between the caregiver and the family.”
Why Should You Consider an NCS?
Now, let’s talk about the perks of having a newborn care specialist in your corner. First and foremost, you’ve got an experienced pro by your side, and that peace of mind is priceless. “I’ve worked with parents who’ve had traumatic birthing experiences, couples who’ve used surrogates, and first-time parents who are still finding their way,” Fairchild shares. “There’s an emotional element to having someone who helps chart a course and ensures that both you and your baby are on a healthy track.”
But here’s the real kicker – you get to catch up on your beauty sleep! “The care we provide overnight allows parents to have more meaningful interactions with their newborns during the day,” explains Fairchild. “You get to spend time with your baby when you’re wide awake and cherishing those little moments. We hand you back that joy.”
And it’s not just about joy; it’s about staying in the clear when it comes to postpartum depression. A 2016 study looked at 360 women who had given birth in the last three months and found that those with poor sleep quality were 3.34 times more likely to experience postpartum depression than those who slept soundly.
Are There Any Downsides to Hiring an NCS?
There aren’t many drawbacks to working with an NCS. If you’re worried about missing out on those precious eight hours of bonding time with your newborn, Fairchild has a reassuring thought. You’ll be that much more alert and engaged when you’re with your baby during the day.
According to Hedley, you’d probably only run into downsides if you end up hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for your family. “The person your friend raved about might not be the right match for you,” she explains. “An experienced NCS understands the importance of this and will be happy to spend time with you during your selection process, answering any questions you have.”
What’s the Price Tag for an NCS?
Like most things, the cost of hiring an NCS can vary. “As a general rule of thumb, NCS services tend to be more expensive than hiring a regular daytime nanny, about 25-30% more in most markets,” says Hedley.
So, how much are we talking? It could range from $25 an hour or $200 for a night of care, all the way up to $75 an hour or $600 per night in pricier cities across the US. The cost can also differ depending on the NCS you choose. Some work through agencies (like Fairchild), while others go solo. Plus, different NCS pros might have varying levels of training and might be based in higher-demand markets, all factors that can affect the price tag.
When Should You Bring in an NCS, and for How Long?
Hedley and Fairchild both agree that the demand for NCS services is higher than ever, so planning ahead is key. Fairchild reveals that her schedule is fully booked until January, as she’ll be with a repeat client welcoming their second baby in September. But don’t lose hope; you might still find someone on short notice, especially if you reach out to a local agency.
There’s no set minimum or maximum contract length for NCS services, but Hedley notes that the care usually kicks in when you bring your newborn home and lasts for around three to four months. In her view, everyone should consider at least 10 weeks of NCS support. That way, when they leave, your baby will have settled into a sleep schedule you can trust. But remember, some parents opt for just a couple of nights of NCS help, while others practically beg their NCS to stay forever.
How Do You Find an NCS?
Finding an NCS is as easy as pie. One option is to simply search for newborn care specialists in your area, reach out, and conduct interviews with potential caregivers. If you find someone local, you might not need to provide accommodations unless you’re going for 24-hour care.
Alternatively, you can visit the NCSA website and fill out a form. Share your location, specify the type of care you’re looking for, and let them know your timeline. The NCSA will then pass on your inquiry to their private members group and forward you resumes from available caregivers.
Is an NCS Right for You?
Every parent and family is unique, and deciding whether an NCS is the right move can be a bit of a puzzle. Consider whether you have a support network of friends or family nearby who can lend a hand. Even if you do, it’s ultimately up to you (and your bank account) to determine whether bringing in an experienced pro like an NCS is the right call.
Fairchild has seen a growing number of people turn to NCS services in recent years. “In the past, people were hesitant to ask for help or have someone come into their