Mother’s Little Helpers
These 5 services make life a little easier for new moms. by Koren Wetmore
The first few weeks following your baby’s birth, you may find yourself feeling a little bit overwhelmed.You’re tired, you’re adjusting to new responsibilities and – unless you have a lineup of wise and caring relatives to get you through – you could probably use some outside help.
Well, lucky for you, help is out there – and in some cases, it’s surprisingly affordable.We’ve rounded up five services that offer new moms a little postpartum support. Choose one that’s right for your needs and your budget.
Postpartum Doulas. Doulas may be best known as labor coaches, but they can also help new moms with breastfeeding, newborn care and instruction, mother care and household support. They can go with you on your first trip to the store with your baby, help you set up the nursery or perform other household tasks such as cooking or cleaning. Certified postpartum doulas have received infantand mother-care training through one of three major organizations (DONA, CAPPA or NAPCS).
“When you have a new baby, you’re feeling tired and overworked and not always sure of what you’re doing. A postpartum doula can come in, calm the atmosphere and makes you feel more confident,” says Donna Johnson, executive director of the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA).
Cost: $15-$25/hourHow to find: Contact CAPPA,888/MYCAPPA; Doulas of North America (DONA), 888/788-DONA; or the National Association of Postpartum Care Services, 800/453-6852.
Baby Nurses. Similar to a postpartum doula, baby nurses help with mother and infant care, but they usually also hold an LVN or RN degree. Some are trained to help with special-needs or premature infants. Baby nurses don’t typically do cleaning or cooking.
Did You Know?In colonial times, childbirth and early postpartum were social events for women. Friends from the community gathered during labor and then at the new mother’s house for the first few weeks of her baby’s life. They took care of the cooking and cleaning, as well as any older children. This gave the mom a chance to connect with her new baby. But seeing as how you probably can’t talk your friends into camping out at your house and taking care of the chores for several weeks, the next best thing is hiring someone to do it.
“You can learn as much as you want from a prenatal class, but the truth is, nothing really sinks in until you’re at home with your new baby,” says Carolyn Markey, RN, president of the Visiting Nurses Associations o America.“A baby nurse can look at the environment and see what changes need to happen that you didn’t even think about.”
Cost: About $100 per visit (Some insurance providers will cover this cost.)How to find: Contact your local Visiting Nurses Association (www.vnaa.com).
Personal Chefs. Unlike private chefs, who actually live in your home, personal chefs come in to cook on an as-needed basis or to prepare and freeze a number of meals you can conveniently reheat later. They can be hired by the week or by the number of meals (e.g. 20 meals per month). “Many times, the family will bring in a personal chef for the first few weeks so mom can focus on the new baby,” says David MacKay, executive director of the U.S. Personal Chef Association. “If the husband can operate a microwave or conventional oven, he can handle reheating the meals.”
Cost: $12-$15 per person/mealHow to find: www.hireachef.com or call 800/995-2138.
Housekeeping Services. Hand over the heavy-duty bathroom and kitchen cleaning to a housekeeping service. “It’s a relief for new moms to not have to worry about scrubbing the toilet or vacuuming the floor,” says Sarah Smock, marketing director for Merry Maids. “And when someone wants to come over to see your new baby, you don’t have to rush around trying to get the house clean enough for visitors.”
Cost: $65+ per visit How to find: Personal referral or local agency.
Personal Concierge Services. With fees based upon individual needs, companies offering concierge services will run your errands such as grocery shopping, dog walking or picking up dry cleaning. “Carrying those grocery bags and your baby too can be hard. A personal concierge does the shopping for you,” says Rhonnie McCauley, president of Errand Services Biz, a personal concierge service near Boulder, Colo. Not to mention that facing the world requires the occasional shower, which can be surprisingly tough for new moms of newborns.
Cost: $15+/hourHow to find: Call 800/934-ICEA (the International Concierge and Errand Association) to locate a service near you.