A Day in the life of a Maternity Nurse
The most important thing to realise, in my opinion, about being a maternity nurse is that no two days are ever the same. The second most important thing is that doing the job well often involves doing much more than the obvious things (I will give a few examples below).
In this article, I would like to show you what a genuine day as a maternity nurse looks like in the most realistic way possible- no frills attached! So, as there is no actual ‘typical’ day, I will give you an example of a day which both the parents and I felt was … successful.
The baby in this scenario is a healthy 8 week old boy that was being breastfed.
6am: Baby wakes up hungry. I wake up slightly disorientated from 3 hours sleep, change the baby’s nappy then walk with the baby in my pyjamas to mum’s bedroom. I go inside and gently pat her on the arm to wake her up. I wait for mum to groggily sit herself up and prepare for a breastfeed. I feel bad for having to wake her out of her sleep and I admire the effort she makes to feed her baby. I then go back to my room/ the nursery and lie down to rest.
7-8am: I collect the baby, ensure he has been winded then put him back to sleep. We all gratefully rest again at this point.
9.30am: I wake up properly, shower, dress, have breakfast etc..
10am: Baby wakes up hungry. I take the baby to mum for a feed. I sit on the edge of the bed with mum and observe the feed, I make notes on the baby’s timings and I chat with mum and dad about their plans for the day (and whatever else they might want to talk about). I then go and make mum tea/ bring her water or juice etc. Once the feed is finished I show mum and dad lots of different winding techniques and also go over soothing/ sleeping techniques. I also spend some time giving them tips on how to interpret the baby’s cues.
11-12pm: Baby stays awake and plays with dad.
12-1pm: Baby naps and I do the baby’s laundry, tidy the nursery, change the sheets, empty the nappy bin, try to predict the baby’s routine for later, tidy my area, check my phone and grab a snack.
1pm: Baby feeds with mum, I stay and partially observe the feed then I go and prepare mums lunch, prepare the baby’s travel bag, and ensure that all the equipment has been sterilised.
3pm: Baby starts fussing. Mum rests and I take the baby out for a walk.
4.30pm: Baby is hungry. Give to mum for a feed and ensure she is comfortable.
6.30pm: Bathtime! (And cuddle time!)… I help mum and dad with bathing the baby and then I show them the best way to massage the baby. I also give them tips on how to keep the baby calm and happy.
7.30pm: Mum takes the baby into her room for a cluster feed and for some more quality time with dad. I go off for my break and excitedly think about all the time I have to rest and think. My break allows me to regroup my thoughts and top up my “energy” meter. During this time I will have my dinner, perhaps another shower and also a short nap. Sometimes I will spend time reading. Often though, I find that I spend most of the time thinking about mum and the baby and how to make sure that both are happy and bonding well.
I also make sure that during my break I am accessible to mum JUST IN CASE she needs anything.
10.30pm: I take the baby for the night and say goodnight to mum and dad. I remind mum to pump a bottle of breast milk and to leave it outside of her door. The baby is already asleep at this point. I take him to the nursery and I spend a few moments cuddling him and thinking about how tiny he is and how lovely he smells. I then set him in his crib and tuck him in.
2.30am: Baby wakes up hungry and crying. I wake up immediately and dash to mums room where she has left a bottle of expressed breast milk outside of her door. I run back upstairs, put the bottle in a small tub of hot water. I pick the baby up and soothe him while the bottle warms up. I then give him a feed, wind him, entertain him for half an hour then he falls back asleep. I then make a hot water bottle for myself and hope the baby doesn’t wake up before 5:30am and go back to sleep.
6am: Back to mum for a feed or I give the baby an expressed feed if mum is too tired.
This, of course, is an example of a day that has run smoothly. There are many factors however that can affect the fluidity of the day, something which maternity nurses take into account and if possible, plan for.
Things that you don’t necessarily anticipate doing but occasionally might:
- Advising on personal matters
- Telling jokes
- Having mum cry on your shoulder
- Giving dad a pat on the back for reassurance
In my experience I have noticed that the best bookings are ones where the family has been comfortable enough to see you as an addition to their family and most importantly, as a friend.