Are you expecting a baby and thinking about getting some help?  Your friends all rave about whatever kind of help they had – Maternity Nurse, Night Nurse, Doula etc and you are so confused you don’t know what to do.  Let me try and help break down the choices you have and how to find the perfect person for you.

For help immediately after you have your baby you have some different options:

Maternity Nurse
A maternity nurse will work 24 hours a day generally 5 or 6 days a week.  They will take a break in the day for a couple of hours so they can catch up on some sleep as they will be up in the night with the baby regardless of how you are feeding.  During the night if you are breastfeeding the maternity nurse will be up in the night with you and help you to latch the baby on and make sure the feeding is going well.  Then, after the feed they will take the baby and resettle them allowing you to get back to bed quickly.  If you are bottle feeding the maternity nurse will get up and feed the baby and resettle them enabling you to get a good nights sleep.

A maternity nurse will be able to help you learn all the aspects of caring for your new baby, and give you much need reassurance and confidence when dealing with your new baby especially if it is your first.

Maternity nurses are self employed and responsible for their own tax and national insurance so you will pay them a gross wage and not be liable to pay anything else.  Depending on the maternity nurse’s experience (less experienced maternity nurses can be referred to as a maternity nanny) you can expect to pay between £130-180 for a single baby, £180-220 for twins and £200+ for triplets.  You may be recommended a maternity nurse from a friend or you may need to either advertise your job online on a website such as or or go through an agency who should be able to provide you with several CV’s of maternity nurses who may be right for you.

The thought of having someone living in your house and being around for such a huge amount of time can be an intimidating so I would advise you to interview more than one nurse even if you think you have found the right person for you – meeting the wrong person can help you to sort out in your mind exactly what it is you are looking for.  My clients say that they knew very quickly after meeting me that I was the right maternity nurse for them.

Night Nurse/Night Nanny
A night nurse will come to you from the beginning if you wish and can do between 1 and 6 nights a week depending on your needs.  They will usually arrive between 9/10pm and leave around 7am this needs to be arranged with your specific night nurse and most will be flexible with their hours.  Like maternity nurses, night nurses are also self employed so you will pay them a gross wage.  Costs again depend of experience but you can expect to pay between £100-120 per night.  The night nurse will look after the baby for you at night and help you to get the baby into a good and healthy sleeping/feeding routine at night.  To find a night nurse use the same advice for finding a maternity nurse.

You may have heard of the name before and thought ‘what on earth is one of those?’  Well, there are two kinds of Doula, a birth doula and a postnatal doula.  Birth Doulas charge between £350-1000 and for this you get 2 ante-natal visits, phone and email support, 4 weeks on call 24/7 for the birth, Labour and birth no time limit and 1/2 post natal visits that are 1-2 hours long.  Postnatal Doulas will come to your home after you have returned from hospital.  They will provide you with support and help with light housework.  They charge between £10-20 pr hour plus mileage costs and they may have a minimum number of hours required per visit.  For more information or to find a Doula got to

Mother’s Help
A mother’s help is usually unqualified but with some experience of looking after children (with siblings or through babysitting).  They will help, generally on a part-time basis, around the house with housework and may after time be able to take the children sole-charge.  This kind of help may be beneficial if you are not having your first baby and just feel you need an extra pair of hands around the house.  You can expect to pay around £150-300 net for 35+ hours a week.  To find a mother’s help use the website’s above or contact a nanny agency.

Au Pair
An au pair will help you to look after your older children but as a general rule should not be left in sole charge of children under the age of two unless she has specific experience of this.  This could be useful if you have older children and know what you are doing with your baby and just need some help with school runs and light housework.  Au pairs live in your home and receive pocket money on average between £75 – 80 per week.  They should be working no more than 30 hrs per week and this includes any babysitting.  Whilst with you your au pair should be attending a language school to improve their english.  There are several au pair websites that will tell you all you need to know about getting an au pair but a good place to start would be the British Au Pair Agencies Association website.

If you are looking for help with your impending arrival good luck and trust your instincts.

By Mary Ashton, Our Resident Maternity Nurse