The exact duties of a Maternity Nurse should be thoroughly discussed and agreed before work commences, but generally speaking a Maternity Nurse is expected to be responsible for all aspects of a baby’s life, and to help the mother make a full recovery following the baby’s birth. She will be there to help and advise the mother in looking after the baby and to establish a good feeding and sleep pattern.
Most mothers will have an idea of which feeding style they plan to use and a Maternity Nurse should always support and advise mum in this decision.
Breast-fed babies: The Maternity Nurse is there to observe and help the mother when feeding the baby both day and night, and to take the baby after feeds, wind and resettle.
Bottle-fed babies: The Maternity Nurse is responsible for the preparation of the feeds, sterilising the feeding equipment, feeding the baby both during the day and night as required and settling the baby after feeds.
She will also be able to help with expressing and can advise on issues such as nipple confusion, mastitis, reflux and tongue tie.
Some maternity nurses ask to have a break period during the day – this will generally be between 1 and 3 hours and should normally happen at a time that is suitable for the family. Maternity nurses will use this time to either catch up on sleep or get out for a little exercise. During this time they will always be contactable should you require any assistance.
Maternity nurses and night nurses will generally only care for the new baby. Part of this role includes teaching older siblings how to handle the new addition to the family, advising parents on how to avoid problems with jealousy and establishing a routine which includes the rest of the household. Most will not assist with direct care of the older siblings. If you require extra help with this it is advisable to discuss this with the agency beforehand so that appropriate candidates can be submitted.
Maternity nurses and night nurses are happy to share a room with the baby, but it is advisable that on their time off they have a bedroom of their own. Most Maternity nurses who work on a 5 or 5½ day week basis travel home on their days off.