A Maternity Nurse cares for newborn babies in the baby’s home, undertaking all work associated with caring for the baby during its first few months of life. Maternity Nurses usually work on a live-in basis usually working a 24-hour day 5 days a week (sometimes 6 days a week) for a temporary period; this may last for as little as a few weeks or for as long as a few months. There will, of course, be a break during the day and at least one day free each week. Occasionally some Maternity Nurses work on solely a day-shift or night-shift basis but these –and other more flexible- arrangements are unusual. Most Maternity Nurses work on a self-employed basis.
Maternity Nurses will try to involve older siblings in caring for the new baby and occasionally provide care for older siblings (for instance, by reading a story during breastfeeding time; however, Maternity Nurses are not responsible for the everyday care of older siblings.
Maternity Nurses usually sleep in the same room as the baby for whom they care. If the baby is bottle fed, the Maternity Nurse will prepare feeds, feed the baby and sterilise all bottles and feeding equipment. If the baby is breast-fed, the Maternity Nurse will bring the baby to the mother to feed during the night, again sterilising all requisite equipment.
Maternity Nurses also attend to nappy changing, bathing, dressing, clothing care and laundry, as well as undertake nursery room housekeeping, including the maintenance of a hygienic environment, and ensure the cleanliness and availability of other equipment such as changing mats ointments, medications and nappies.
Maternity Nurses are employed to support new parents and so the role will inevitably incorporate an element of education, not just helping with practicalities but also teaching parents about new-born baby care such , advising on breastfeeding issues, as well as implementing the start of a feeding and sleeping routine in accordance with the parents’ wishes.
Maternity Nurses must be mindful never to be judgemental but to provide parents with options and choices, empowering them to be confident in their ability to parent, and supporting them in whichever childcare choices they make. Maternity Nurses should be aware this can be a vulnerable and emotional time for many parents. A good Maternity Nurse will intervene only when necessary for the well-being of the child, such as encouraging the mother to rest, eat healthily, and keep a sufficient fluid intake. Moreover, a Maternity Nurse must exercise discretion, maintaining an arms-length presence in the home allowing the family time alone at this special time.
Maternity Nurses should have extensive knowledge of baby development and be confident in their ability to recognise and resolve any problems. They should be able to reassure parents when all is normal and be able to act decisively and quickly when needed. They will be able to help, advise and reassure when faced with common problems such as reflux, colic etc .
Although it is generally midwives and nannies who transition to maternity nursing there are excellent courses available offering relevant training to those who have no prior experience but would like the challenges and unique rewards that the role offers.
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