Night nanny + breastfeeding: an unexpectedly effective combo

Many mums ask us whether it makes sense to hire a night nanny if they are breastfeeding?

The short answer is “yes”.

A slightly longer answer is “absolutely yes”!

And here is the longer, fully lived-through answer… (Spoiler alert! The answer is still the same.)

While I was preparing for the birth of our second son, my husband was encouraging me to get a night nurse. Of course, I loved the idea of sleeping through the night! But how, I wondered, could this possibly work?!

I breastfed my first baby and I remembered two things clearly:

  • First, how desperately tired I was! Hence, a night nanny would make sense.
  • And second, how many times he woke up each night to feed – too many!! Initially (and for a long time thereafter), it was six times a night. Hence, a night nanny simply would not fit into my breastfeeding world. (Also, between you and me my plan was to catch up on ‘Orange is the New Black’ during those night feeds.)
Babies like to breastfeed all night long
Babies like to breastfeeding all night long

So, I did the maths. Assuming baby goes to sleep at 7pm and – by some miracle promised by the likes of Gina Ford, Baby Whisperer and Rachel Waddilove – sleeps until 7am, that is 12 hours of potential rest foe me! (Right. I knew better – this was a fairyland.)

With my firstborn, each feed took me about an hour; and then another half an hour to settle him back to sleep afterwards. That is six hours of feeding, plus three hours of re-settling, or nine hours of awake time for me, each night.

After I factored in my own re-settle time, I was left with at most two hours of rest. How on earth, would it make sense to have a night nanny at home for the entire night, to sleep two hours? Nonsense!

However, the fact that I slept only two hours a night was exactly the reason why I – as well as my baby, and the rest of my family — ultimately benefited tremendously from a night nurse. And all the while I was breastfeeding exclusively.

Babies often doze off while breastfeeding
Babies often doze off while breastfeeding

Here are the key benefits of hiring a night nanny, also called a night nurse, or – as I like to call them – Angels of the night.

Six benefits of hiring a night nanny for *your baby*

  • You baby will feed fewer times a night. Night nannies can read baby cues much better than us mums. Babies don’t wake for hunger only. In fact, more often than not, they wake up because they have tummy pain or simply because they don’t know how to fall back asleep. Now, for us breastfeeding mums the easiest way to get them back to sleep seems to be putting them on the breast and letting them use us as a human dummy. But (!) as we all know that’s a very short-term fix. In contrast, a night nanny will try to first settle the baby back to sleep, and very often she will succeed. (If she can’t it’s because baby is genuinely hungry.) Hence, the result is fewer night feeds (and more sleep!) for both of you.
  • Your baby will finish their night feeds faster. Especially during the night, babies tend to doze off on a breast. They end up sleeping on us more so than feeding. A night nurse, however, will make sure that your baby sucks only as long as she actually feeds. By looking at you and the baby, she has the knowledge and experience to know when they are finished.
  • Your baby will settle back to sleep more easily. Night nannies seem to have a ‘special power’ to teach your baby to fall asleep, and stay asleep. I didn’t know this until I had my first baby but babies actually need to be taught how to sleep! The most important skill for babies is the ability to fall asleep on their own, not needing your breast for comfort.
  • Your baby will be sleeping better and more. As a result of this gentle training by an experienced night nurse, your baby will be sleeping longer and more soundly. Remember those magical 12 hours between 7pm and 7am? With the help of a night nanny your baby will be making the most of this period, guaranteed!
  • Your baby will be stronger and healthier. Did you know that sleep is the second most important factor for baby development, after food? Sleep is unfortunately often neglected yet it is while sleeping that your baby grows and strengthens.
  • Your baby will be in a better mood during the days. This is no rocket science. It works the same way as for us adults!
Sleep is incredibly important for baby development and immune system
Sleep is incredibly important for baby development and immune system

Six benefits of night nannies for *you*

  • You will be waking up feeling refreshed and energetic. (Yaaayy!!)
  • You will be enjoying time with your baby much more. (Sweet!)
  • You will have more quality time for the rest of the family, work or social commitments. (Finally!)
  • You will be assured that your baby is getting enough quality sleep which is so important for their development. (Thank goodness!)
  • Your immune system (and hence your baby’s) will be stronger. (Bring it on!)
  • Your milk supply will improve. Wait, what? It’s true, the more you rest, the more (quality) milk your body can produce. Check out our favourite breastfeeding source: KellyMom.com
Mamas need good sleep to boos their immune system and milk supply
Mamas need good sleep to boos their immune system and milk supply

So to answer your question, ‘does it make sense to hire a night nanny while breastfeeding?’ Absolutely.

Stay tuned for more tips around the logistics of breastfeeding with a night nanny, and different arrangements you can make to get the best out of their help.

Fact: Majority of myTamarin mums who hire a night nurse breastfeed. They breastfeed more than the UK average. myTamarin can support you, your baby and your family – come take a look!

32 Replies to “Night nanny + breastfeeding: an unexpectedly effective combo”

  1. Oh a night nanny would have been wonderful while I was breastfeeding my youngest he fed on the hour ever hour through the night and I was exhausted with no help. It absolutely does make sense for someone to get help if they can afford to x

  2. My first born used to feed for hours at a time leaving my nipples cracked and bleeding. I can absolutely see the benefits of having a night nurse.
    To me, breastfeeding was really important and all three of mine were breastfed. A night nurse would have been a game changer. I wonder if they’re expensive.

    1. Hi lovely, I can totally relate to your cracked nipples. What do us mums go through I wonder sometimes?! (Well, most of the time!) Night nannies cost more or less the same as nannies, though they charge at a gross rate as they are all self employed, so it comes out at £13-£16 an hour. It can feel like a lot of money, but I see it as an investment into the well being of the entire family.

  3. Wow, I’ve never heard of this before?! I would worry that maybe a new Mums milk supply would be harmed by not feeding at night as this is when we produce the most prolactin. It seems like a good idea for extra rest though. Sleep derivation is awful!

    1. You’re right, lack of feeding at night can impact milk supply negatively. If a mum chooses to breastfeed exclusively, a night nanny would bring baby to mum every time baby was due for a feed during the night, make sure that neither of them fall asleep, and then wind & resettle baby back to sleep. That way, mum gets more rest and more milk 🙂

  4. I would not have thought a night nanny would be an option when exclusively breastfeeding but it does make sense. I had my own in the form of my husband, I would feed the baby and go to bed around 7pm and he would settle her and bring her to me when she was hungry around 10ish that way I had had 3 hours solid sleep before the long night ahead.

    1. Sarah, sounds like you have 1) a wonderful husband and 2) great discipline to go to bed early. Well done you!! It’s really the only way to make it work with young babies, but I personally found it impossible to go to bed before 10pm…

  5. Oh I remember the long nights of breastfeeding, I can see why people would get a nanny but for me it is all part of the experience of having a baby and those night feeds just the 2 of us I wouldn’t have swopped for the world

  6. A night nurse is never something I’ve ever considered, my second baby is only 7 weeks old, and luckily for me she sleeps like a dream, so it’s not something I would grately benifit from. I do enjoy the middle of the night cuddles too when she weakens. Was defiantly an interesting read though.

    1. Oh, my, that must have been a super challenge. Routine is super helpful, especially when you have more than one child. Judging from your beautiful Instagram account, I suspect all is in order now 🙂

  7. I’m looking at going into nannying myself (I have worked at nursery for several years) and I found this post so useful to read through! Some people don’t understand the need for nannies full stop, not just night nannies! I’m glad you found hem helpful!

    1. Good for you, Nicky! It takes a certain type of person to go into nannying 🙂 All the best on your new journey, and get in touch if you’d like to join myTamarin Childcare Matchmaker.

  8. This is actually really interesting. I’ve never heard of hiring a night nanny but having read this it makes sense. I remember the sleepless nights, spent feeding and trying to get my little one back to sleep. I think I definitely spent more time awake than sleeping.

  9. Oooh what a fab post, and very interesting. I never looked at having a night nanny in this way. I am sure it works really well for some families. I am due my third little one in just over 5 weeks xx

  10. A night nanny seems like a wonderful aid to have as a new mommy. I don’t have children so I had no idea about the night feeding. I do have a friend who just gave birth a month ago so I will recommend her to read this post. She doesn’t get a lot of sleep at the moment.

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