Night doulas: evening childcare help during the fourth trimester
Feb 9, 2024
Becoming a parent is an exciting journey filled with joy, challenges, and countless questions. Whether you're thinking about starting a family or already a parent, you’ve probably heard many people say that one of the biggest challenges with newborns is sleep.
So what’s a sleepy parent with a crying little one to do night after night? Enter the role of a night doula. Let’s explore what a night doula is along with their training, responsibilities, the costs and pros/cons of hiring one, and some alternatives.
What is a night doula?
A night doula is a professional trained in newborn care who provides support to parents during the nighttime hours. While you may have heard of birth doulas who assist during labor and delivery, night doulas specialize in helping families get the rest they need in the early months of parenthood.
To become a night doula, individuals typically attend specialized training programs. They often take classes on newborn care, breastfeeding support, and postpartum recovery.
Responsibilities of a night doula
Every night doula is unique in their experiences, style, services, and approach to night time babycare. In general though, night doulas aim to create a calm and nurturing environment for both parents and baby.
Their tasks may include feeding the baby, changing diapers, soothing your little one back to sleep, and providing emotional support to weary parents. A night doula’s main goal is to care for a newborn overnight while parents catch up on rest, promoting a healthier and more positive postpartum experience for the whole family.
A glimpse into a typical night
Curious what a typical night might look like for a night doula? In the early evening, a night doula may help with a baby’s bedtime routine–bathing, swadling, feeding, and tucking in.
For the first several hours when baby sleeps, they often work on quiet tasks like sterilizing baby bottles and pumping supplies, and folding baby’s laundry.
Throughout the rest of the night, they handle bottle feedings, diaper changes, and soothe little babes back to sleep so moms and dads can rest uninterrupted. Night doulas can also support mothers who are breastfeeding and pumping during the night.
As the sun rises, night doulas may also help with morning routines such as warming bottles before concluding their shift. Ultimately, a night doula’s work hours and routines can be customized to each family’s needs.
Costs of hiring a night doula
The cost of hiring a night doula can vary a lot based on location and experience. The nationwide average rate is $25 per hour (Source: ZipRecruiter, 2024.) But in expensive cities like San Francisco, night doulas usually cost upwards of $40-50 per hour.
While the expense can get quite large, many parents find it worthwhile for the physical and emotional well-being it provides in the challenging initial months of parenthood.
Pros and cons of hiring a night doula
Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of hiring help for night time babycare.
Pros of hiring a night doula:
Quality sleep: One of the main benefits of hiring a night doula is being able to get much-needed rest. Night doulas allow parents to recharge overnight, making daytime babycare and job-related work more manageable.
Expertise and guidance: Night doulas bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. They can offer valuable and personalized advice on newborn care, breastfeeding, and postpartum recovery.
Emotional support: The emotional toll of sleep deprivation is tough. Night doulas provide not only physical assistance, but also emotional support, creating a nurturing environment for both parents.
Cons of hiring a night doula.
Considerable expense: The cost of hiring a night doula may simply be too high for some families and that’s ok. Even though the benefits are clear, some families may find it challenging to justify the expense especially if there are other suitable alternatives (which we touch on below).
Less personal time: Having a night doula may reduce the amount of time parents spend bonding with their newborn at night. Some families prioritize being hands-on during these moments, especially if one or both partners are away at work during the day.
Other reasons to hire a night doula
Still unsure if hiring a night doula is for you? Here are some other things to consider. First-time parents especially may have a hard time navigating the first months of parenthood. Babies don’t come with instruction manuals and even though there are lots of baby books out there, it’s hard to find the time to read them when you’re exhausted. This is when night doulas can step in and offer their expertise, guidance, and support.
Many modern couples today are juggling demanding careers while also navigating parenthood. Having the extra support of a night doula–even if it’s just one or two nights a week–can make a big difference in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Couples who don’t have close friends or family nearby, or who have multiple children to care for, may also greatly benefit from hiring a night doula.
Alternatives to hiring a night doula
Even still, hiring a night doula isn’t for everyone. So, it’s helpful to look at other alternatives:
Schedule shifts with your partner: It can be helpful to create a shift schedule with your partner where you each take turns handling night time duties while the other rests.
Co-sleeping: There are many bedside bassinets and swivel sleepers available today that can simplify nighttime feedings for breastfeeding mothers, helping everyone get back to sleep more quickly.
Family and friends: Grandparents, siblings, and other close family members or friends are sometimes willing to step in and help out at night. This may not be a long-term solution, but even help with an occasional night can bring much needed relief.
Get help with Plenty
At the end of the day, the decision to hire a night doula is a personal one. However you decide to care for your little one during the day and at night, Plenty has all the tools you need to plan, invest, and track your savings.
We’re here to help you and your partner enjoy the journey—and—make meaningful progress toward your goals together.
– Team Plenty
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