Consider getting a night doula if you want to save your marriage and sanity during the first three month’s of your baby’s life! Although expensive, a night doula was so worth it for our family.
As any expecting first-time father would do, I read several books on how to support my wife during her pregnancy, what I should do as a father, and how to care for a baby after birth. I also talked to about 25 moms (12 of which were moms of the boys HS tennis team I coached) about what they wished they had more of or what they would have done differently during their 4th trimester.
Without hesitation, most moms told me they wished they had more support. The first 3-6 months after childbirth is usually quite brutal. The support could have come from more paid time off, more help from grandparents and friends, or more help from their husbands.
I also went down a deep rabbit hole online learning about a lot of parents who lost their babies during the first six months postpartum. It is very sad and fear-inducing, but it is also important to know what might happen without proper care.
Given I didn’t want to mess things up as a first-time father and we didn’t have any local support, I did more research on finding support postpartum. I landed on the benefits of hiring a birthing doula, a day doula, and a night doula.
After being super frugal since graduating from college, now was the chance to finally spend up on something that will help the people I love the most. Here is a guest post from my wife on everything you should know about hiring a night doula.
Deciding On A Night Doula
Before Sam and I had our first child, all I could really think about was getting through the pregnancy and surviving the birth. What I should have done was spend more time preparing for everything that comes postpartum.
Sure, we took newborn care classes, got all the appropriate baby gear, and prepared the nursery. We felt ready. When our son finally arrived though, Sam and I were flooded with indescribable joy juxtaposed with overwhelming first-time-parent anxieties and intense sleep deprivation.
After a few weeks, we realized we needed more help than we anticipated, and hired a night doula.
I’m going to explain why we decided to hire night doulas with both of our two kids, how much it cost us (not cheap!), and what our experiences were like hiring and getting support from night doulas.
So, just what is a night doula and should you hire one?
What Is A Night Doula?
A postpartum night doula provides overnight, in-home support for families with newborn babies. In other words, night doulas care for babies during the night in your own home and also provide care and support to moms and partners as needed.
Night doulas work in the postpartum period, i.e. the days, weeks, and months after a baby is born. They differ from postpartum doulas aka day doulas, who work exclusively during daylight hours.
Postpartum doulas are not to be confused with birth doulas or labor doulas who are hired by families to support women primarily with childbirth and also during their pregnancy.
Although not required, most postpartum night doulas complete structured training and receive certifications from agencies such as DONA International or CAPPA Worldwide.
The best agencies teach night doulas to be newborn experts through hands on experience, workshops, reading materials, and reference checks. The best postpartum night doulas also complete first aid and CPR training and certification.
Night Doula Vs Night Nurse And Night Nanny
Technically, a night doula is not the same thing as a night nurse or night nanny. Night nurses and night nannies also care for babies overnight, but unlike night doulas they do not provide support for moms and partners. They only provide overnight baby care.
A night nurse is typically a licensed RN with official medical training. Sometimes, night nurses are hired to live in your home for a contracted number of weeks or months while they care for the baby. A night nurse may also be referred to as a Newborn Care Specialist or NCS.
Night nannies on the other hand usually don’t have any official certifications or formal training, but should have hands-on experience with newborn babies and infants. You could hire them to live in your home temporarily as well, or have them come to work only for a set number of hours per week.
Night doulas do not live-in your home for the period they are hired. They typically start work around 10-10:30pm and leave by 6-6:30am the next morning. Some postpartum night doulas require a minimum number of nights per week, others do not.
Au pairs, on the other hand, do live with you. Our au pair saved us during the first two years of the pandemic. We are so grateful to her.
Typical Night Doula Responsibilities
Heres’s a list of common responsibilities and services provided by postpartum night doulas during the night and early morning.
- Helping mom and partners get more sleep!
- Breastfeeding support
- Help with latching and other technicalities
- Bringing baby to and from mom for feeds
- Pump setup, disassembly, cleaning
- Proper storage of breastmilk, freezing
- Bottle feeding
- Burping, settling, and putting baby down after feeds
- Helping baby establish good sleeping habits
- Diaper changes as needed
- Documenting times and details of the baby’s wakes, feeds, diaper changes
- Administer medicine if needed such as gripe water, gas drops, probiotics, Vitamin D drops, saline drops, reflux medications
- Clean, wash, sterilize bottles and pumping supplies
- Provide guidance and support to moms and partners
- Teach newborn care skills like swaddling, soothing, bedtime routines
- A friendly ear to talk to, help moms and partners build confidence
Some postpartum night doulas also provide additional services such as:
- Longer overnight shifts ranging between nine and twelve hours
- Washing and folding baby’s laundry
- Preparing breakfast for mom
- Light house cleaning in baby’s room, kitchen, or common area
- Sleep training (although rare, see below)
Benefits Of Hiring A Night Doula
Sleep, sleep and more sleep. The best reason to hire a night doula is to get more sleep. If you’ve never had a baby before, they are a lot of work, literally 24/7. There is a heightened level of anxiety with your first baby given everything is new and any wrong move could cause tremendous injury or worse.
As a result, sleep deprivation and other troubles like insomnia, stress, and heightened anxiety can quickly overwhelm mama and dada. That can take a major toll on both your mental and physical health.
Hiring a night doula provides ~8 hours of relief for dads and partners to sleep uninterrupted and moms to get longer stretches of uninterrupted sleep in between breastfeeding and/or pumping too.
Plus, you can rest at ease knowing someone attentive and alert is caring for your baby the entire night. You don’t have to be as scared of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) with a night doula on watch. Nor do you have to worry about falling asleep with the baby in your arms and accidentally dropping her.
In addition to more sleep, night doulas provide all the other benefits listed above. Rare gems among the night doula community can even help with sleep training.
Night doulas with extensive sleep training experience are hard to find, however, and typically require that a baby weigh at least 12 pounds, is eating enough during the day, doesn’t have any medical issues, and is 4 months of age or older.
How Much Does A Night Doula Cost?
Night doulas range in price depending on location, years of experience, types of certifications, and if they perform extra services like sleep training.
They charge by the hour and typically require seven to eight hour shifts for a prearranged number of days and weeks. Most night doulas also usually require an upfront deposit that is applied to the last scheduled week mutually agreed upon in a written contract.
In expensive coastal cities like San Francisco, experienced night doulas typically range between $40-50/hour. Night doulas in lower cost of living areas run closer to $25-35/hour.
Families hire night doulas generally for 8-12 weeks or possibly more depending on their budget, personal needs, baby’s development, and the night doula’s availability. Other families opt for around 6 weeks; it all depends.
The most in-demand night doulas typically require a minimum of four nights per week for at least four weeks. Usually six nights per week is the maximum a night doula will agree to work due to her own needs to be well rested. Families who want support seven nights a week typically have to hire two night doulas to get complete coverage.
Why We Hired A Night Doula
Before our first child was born, we really had no idea what we were in for as parents. Sure we’d heard comments from other parents like, “sleep now because you won’t get any good sleep after the baby’s born.” But that didn’t really sink in, nor was it very helpful.
A quick summary of reasons why we chose to hire night doulas are below.
- We don’t have any family close by to support us.
- Our closest family is a 4.5 hour plane ride away.
- We had children late in life and our parents are all age 70+ and unable to help.
- We don’t have as much energy as we did in our late 20s and early 30s.
- Our parents have even less energy, have their own health challenges, and have a hard time being away from their homes.
- Our siblings live out of state and are busy with their own kids and work.
- Although props to my sister for flying in to help us while simultaneously working remotely for our first 5 nights at home from the hospital.
- We lack a network of close friends who could easily support us, plus we don’t want to burden them with our own childcare needs.
- We were paranoid about SIDS with our first baby.
- We were too afraid to sleep when he slept so one of us was always awake during the night shifts.
- We quickly got very sleep deprived.
- Our son had a very intense startle reflex, which would wake him even when swaddled tightly.
- He’s never been a good sleeper, even to this day.
- Both of our babies had GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) which disrupted their sleep much more than the average baby.
- They also had to be held upright for 30-45 minutes after each feed to avoid reflux pain and vomiting.
- Ever since our son was about a year old, he’s had night terrors, i.e. inconsolable violent tantrums with screaming, kicking, and crying in the middle of the night that he’s completely unaware of.
- They can last 30 minutes and occur abruptly with no warning. Having a night doula focus on our baby girl helped me focus on him and keep him from injuring himself in the middle of the night.
- Biggest catalyst for Sam: Sam knew of two acquaintances whose babies tragically died within six months after birth. As a result, Sam researched a lot about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the difficulties some mothers have breastfeeding postpartum. In one instance, a baby died from accidental starvation. This was the article that really made an impact on our decision to hire a night doula.
Each Night Doula Experience Will Be Different
We ended up hiring a total of four night doulas, two night doulas for two babies. Each have their own personality and way of doing things. It’s up to you, the parent, to thoroughly interview them before hiring. After all, your night doula will see you during your most vulnerable time and be responsible for taking care of your most precious asset.
I recommend first agreeing to a trial session or two to see how things go. If you, your baby, and the night doula have great chemistry, only then should you commit to a long-term contract.
Even if you sign a long-term contract with a night doula (2-4 months), it is usually possible to break the contract if your doula can find another customer to take over. Just have an open conversation about what-if scenarios.
Remember to be considerate because these contracts are a night doula’s livelihood. Unless the night doula has done something wrong or unforgivable, please honor the contract just like you would honor a rent agreement or paying a mortgage.
Was Hiring A Night Doula Worth It?
We ended up spending about $53k for night doula services for both of our two kids.
- Was it worth it? In hindsight, I say yes. The best time to hire help is when you need it the most. You’ll get the most bang for your buck. As time goes on, babies get stronger and will slowly start sleeping better through the night. Unfortunately, our daughter still doesn’t sleep through the night at 2.5 years old. Hence, maybe we’ll look into getting another night doula!
- Did we anticipate spending that much? No. Once you get nighttime help, it’s hard to let go of the security blanket, especially with a son who still doesn’t sleep through the night.
- Did it cause some financial tension in our marriage? Yes, the tension started after about the third month of paying for a night doula, the stock market began to crash. That was when we had a heart-to-heart to slowly stop using one to save money.
- Were we crazy to continue having help during the COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe. Our night doula had been working with us since birth in December 2019. She lived alone and sheltered in place the entire time.
Our Night Doula Needs Increased
We originally planned on hiring our night doula for four weeks, which grew to eight, then twelve, and then seventeen. Our night doula was in high demand. We didn’t want to risk only signing her for one month just in case we wanted more help.
Our daughter’s GERD was worse than our sons, and it really impacted her sleep. She needed a lot of care during the night in order to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Plus, our son was still waking multiple times a night. Hiring our night doula enabled me to focus primarily on helping our son during the nights when I wasn’t pumping or feeding our daughter. And Sam could sleep uninterrupted and wake refreshed to write the next day.
Fortunately, our daughter started to outgrow most of her GERD symptoms after about fifteen weeks. Her sleep started to improve as well. Being able to have our night doulas successfully sleep train her with Sam and I filling in on her days off was truly priceless.
Now I can set her down in the crib wide awake at bedtime every night, leave the room, and watch her fall asleep on the baby monitor. That is a true miracle in comparison to our son’s sleep challenges.
Key Takeaways From Hiring A Night Doula
A postpartum night doula provides overnight, in-home support for families with newborn babies in the days, weeks, and months after birth. The biggest benefit of hiring a night doula is getting more sleep. You get professional childcare during the most vulnerable time for both mother and baby.
Is a night doula worth the cost? It really depends on your family’s needs and budget. The good thing is that the night doula cost won’t last forever since your baby will eventually start to sleep better. However, I highly recommend having a breakaway plan if you hire one. Otherwise, you could spend much more than you wanted and cause unwanted financial stress.
If you have a reliable support network in place such as your parents, in-laws, siblings, or cousins who can lend a hand with baby care to help ensure you get enough rest, then you can always wait and see how things go after your baby arrives.
If you’re like us, however, and only have each other to lean on, you may want to consider making arrangements far in advance if you have the financial means. The best night doulas typically book up 3-6 months before baby’s due date.
It’s always possible that you could be blessed with a baby who is an inherently good sleeper and find a night doula is unnecessary. Our babies were not like that. Like anything with parenting, deciding whether or not to hire a night doula is a personal decision.
Reader Questions About Getting A Night Doula
Readers, have you hired a night doula before? What was your experience like? For those of you with kids, how were they with sleep as newborns and infants?
P.S. from Sam: Without a night doula, there was no way I could publish 3X-4X a week for the first four months after our daughter’s birth. Once preschool was shut down in March, having a night doula became even more valuable since we were both on childcare duty all day during the day.
Further, a night doula and au pair helped me finish my new bestselling book, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom! The book is one of the best personal finance books today. And I have our childcare support to thank.
Therefore, if you have enjoyed Financial Samurai in 2020 and gained value from what I have written, you can thank my wife and the night doula. It is impossible to write coherently when you are exhausted and sleep-deprived.
Related posts about night doulas and childcare:
The Cost Of IVF And Eastern Medicine To Combat Infertility
What’s The Best Age To Have A Baby Based On Health And Economics?
Life Insurance Needs When Having A Baby
The Cost Of Having Many Children Is Not Just About The Money
Career Or Family: You Only Have To Sacrifice 5 Years Of Your Career At Most
For more nuanced personal finance content, join 100,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience.
Good for you guys! Sometimes the best course of action is to throw some money at a problem. For my kids, we had some family help and bought a Snoo for my second kid, which was money well spent. We also have a nanny and while I never thought I’d go that route due to the cost, the peace of mind is worth every penny.
Thanks Abby! I’ve heard great things about the Snoo. Glad it worked well for you too. If our kids didn’t have reflux we could have considered getting one.
More power to you. Our kids were both good sleepers, but it was still an incredibly difficult time.
If you can’t spend your money on something as important as this, what is it for?
Financial Samurai says
There’s No Point Making Money If You Don’t Spend It
What is funny is the opening paragraph of that post describes me a little too well down to my ’05 Corolla…
I was just spending on complete peace of mind having two commas on hand during a pandemic/depression. And in case life throws serious quality of life problems, like you describe here with sleep.
Great article. Our night doula basically saved our marriage. After our second child was born, we now had a 2 year old and a newborn who had acid reflux, all while living in NYC. The reflux woke her up every other hour and we were so delirious trying to comfort her while trying to sleep and function as professionals. We were so mad at the situation when my wife finally said, “Look, we just have to throw money at the situation.” Best decision we made and after the doula and some compound medicine, the reflux was controlled and normal living could commence.
That was nearly 10 years ago and we have a firm belief now that some situations, whether that’s childcare or a family vacation, to get yourselves out of jam that’s simply not worth the aggravation…”Just throw money at the situation.”
Thanks Paul! Yes I totally hear you on reflux. It really makes it so hard on their sleep and takes so much non stop comforting. Both of our kids kept the doulas busy, especially our daughter. I’m glad you were able to get help when you needed it most!
Hi! Huge fan here. :) Thank you for sharing. My husband and I are expecting our first child soon so this post is timely.
Do you mind sharing what books you recommend to cope through pregnancy and postpartum?
Congrats! We had a couple Mayo Clinic books. The one on Baby’s First Year was really great – goes through all the milestones and what to expect month by month. The pregnancy one was structured similarly, month by month.
I think that if you have the means to pay for a night doula, then get yourself a night doula! The money you pay is nothing compared to the help you described. If I had the means to hire someone to help when I had my children, then I would’ve hired someone without any doubt. For instance, I remember my oldest son was two just 17 months old when I had my daughter and I was on my own since my husband had to be away because of work. I was breastfeeding my daughter while my oldest boy was crying for me to take him on my lap. I couldn’t lift him because of a c-section so my reaction was to cry until there were no more tears to be shed. I ended up taking both children on my lap while rocking ourselves on the chair. After all, tacts what moms do! I know it’s hard because I lived that. So, to those who are in the same situation and don’t have any relatives to help out just because life is unfair sometimes, learn some serious baby skills before your baby arrives. Babies require time and patience. It’s ok to be scared, and hire a night doula if you got the money, of course.
Good luck everyone!
Oh I have been there – breastfeeding with a toddler crying for me to hold him in my lap. Those times are hard. Thanks for the supportive comment and my heart goes out to you for being a super mom!
Back where I come from there’s no such thing and, since we’re pretty ‘old fashioned’ when it comes to baby care, I’d probably never consider this. BUT, I do see its merits and, if it’s a cost you are comfortable with, then by all means do what’s best for you and your family.
In my case daughter was always a sound sleeper and, while I did wake every 3-4 hours to feed her, I was able to get back to bed instantly and fall asleep. She never had reflux or anything that would require special attention and most of the time was pretty happy and quiet.
I can understand the need to get help though, if there are more issues or your just want to be safe. I’m happy such services exist, whatever helps new parents with their life and work, is a winner in my books.
Yup, every baby is different and every family too. You are very lucky your daughter is a good sleeper!!
I could never hire out this very critical bonding time to stranger. My kids definitely were not easy, I breastfed exclusively for 2 years each, which lead to cosleeping. My oldest is 6 is a great sleeper now, the 4 year old will still come to our bed most nights because she is so used to sleeping next to us. I’m surprisingly pregnant with #3 and see myself doing the exact same thing as I just don’t know how to parent any other way.
My husband will be taking 2 weeks off, no other help as family is at least 1 hour away and they still work.
I’m not complaining I just see it as a season of life and this is absolutely the last baby so I want to treasure every moment
It’s wonderful that arrangement is working for you and congrats on number 3! Exciting times.
We hired a night nanny – but she did everything you described. This was all Pre – COVID and I can’t imagine what we would do now as she had a family and our exposure couldn’t have been controlled. At about 45+ K of expenses (the first week was almost 7k b/c it was 24/7 coverage) I had to do an intervention and come to terms myself. We couldn’t possibly continue to spend at this rate. We both needed to rip the bandaid off. And I needed to step up to the plate more. It was hard, but bleeding so much cash so rapidly gave me religion!! Nice post!
Impressive she was doing 24/7 coverage the first week, that’s great. But I hear you, yeah spending $7k in a week is a lot and the costs each week add up so fast. Glad you liked the post!
We were in our early forties and terrified of SIDS. But I couldn’t bring myself to sleep with a stranger in the house. I have some serious control issues. So we got the Owlet monitor and it helped me so much to sleep when he slept. Plus I did a 3 hour call with a newborn specialist before his birth and she helped my to find the right formula (no GERD!!!) and the right products and gave me such great sleep advice that we haven’t had any trouble until just now. He won’t stay in bed at night. But he is almost 4. It was bound to happen at some point.
It is so hard when they won’t stay in their beds once the know they can get out.
Postpartum doulas are the best. I think one thing it also helps with is a reduction in post-part in depression. The sleep I got from having one was a lifesaver.
I have four tips for new parents:
1. Get a postpartum doula for as many nights / as long as you can afford (we did 3x for 8 weeks)
2. Buy a SNOO
3. Read the book The Sleep Solution for directional tips but don’t do everything in it
4. Put the bassinet on your husband’s side of the bed
I really wish I had hired night help with our twins. We survived the first and 2nd children fine, but the twins were a battle. Hearing the other cry was like white noise for the other to sleep but it also meant round the clock crying. It wasn’t just the first few months of round the clock feeding through the night but it was even later, I would’ve loved to have help with sleep training. The twins didn’t learn to sleep through the night until about 2. It also took a huge toll on the marriage. I’d recommend a night doula even if you don’t function well on lack of sleep and are willing to stretch finances a little to maintain your sanity and marriage.
Oh wow I can’t imagine the challenges of caring for newborn twins. Major props to you for getting through that!
Canadian Reader says
Our first baby is 6 months old now and I can relate!
We chose not to hire help because my husband works from home and was able to assist 24/7. If my husband had to work out of the home though, I may have hired someone. I also felt confident heading into motherhood because I used to work in neonatal ICU before my last job in the ER. People say “oh it’s not the same,” but I found my expectations to be pretty grounded from my work experience.
At 9 weeks old she started sleeping from 9pm-7am through the night. She was born prematurely, so I didn’t have milk right away. This lead to heavily monitoring her intake volume -and when the milk did come in- I pumped it so I could keep watching and feeding the exact volume. I’m not sure, but this could be one reason her sleep routine developed quickly. She’s only 6 months and there could be a change at any time and I’ll be eating my words! Haha
Looking back I should have hired a dog walker!
When I was 34 weeks pregnant I bought a ton of groceries and spent the weekend making freeze ahead meal trays- like 2 months worth of lunch/dinners. My husband thought I was losing it at the time, but when I had an emergency delivery 1 week later… this proved to be smart planning!
Anyway, if you can afford the help and it increases your quality of life then go for it! Enjoy it!
Financial Samurai says
Nice! What does your husband do for a living? Being about to care/be on standby 24/7 is super impressive.
Canadian Reader says
Trades stocks all day
Knowing the costs of a night doula is helpful. I am planning on being a single mom by choice, work in a demanding field that requires me to get a decent amount of sleep, and the job has taken me away from family support. So having a night doula 5 nights a week those first 6-8 weeks will be essential. Even though I get maternity leave, research doesn’t stop for babies so it is even more important to be semi-sane soon after giving birth!
Also, just an FYI, the midwest housing market is insane. A house I was interested in had 19 showings the first day and offers were due by 7pm that night. It was under contract by morning. Waiting to see how much over asking it went for!
Oh my, yes please plan to get a night doula and whatever other help you can afford. It’s a lot being a first time mom, but the most incredible blessing. Props to you for planning to raise your baby on your own. Single moms are truly amazing.
If we ever decide to have a second kid, we are definitely getting a night doula – cost be damned. Hard to put a price on sanity.
I’m glad to hear you’re open to getting a night doula if you have a second child. Even if you opt for just a couple nights a week for a few weeks, it helps a lot with mental and physical health. I remember feeling completely delirious with our first before we started getting our first night doula. It sucks that our bodies need so much sleep to function, but it is what it is. A good nights sleep makes such a huge difference.
I really hope I will be able to sleep seven or eight hours uninterrupted again some day. I’m running on empty today – just an hour after I went to bed last night (when I’m in my deepest sleep) I was woken by our son 3 times over the course of the next 40 minutes. Every time I got back in bed to go back to sleep, there he came screaming for me again. Had to bite my tongue, and count to 10 a couple times. Then I was up every 2-3 hours after that feeding our daughter. Nights are not easy!
…ok time for me to tackle more of my to do list and finish some work so I can sneak in a 30 minute nap before our son comes looking for me again.
Yeah, lack of sleep is torture. Even now that our son is 5, I still rarely get the long uninterrupted sleep that i used to before having a kid. More often than not, he’ll come into our bedroom around 4am because he’s “scared” and wants to sleep with us. He likes to press up against me and share the pillow, which is cute and cuddly for the first 5 minutes, but makes it hard to get a restful sleep. Maybe we need to get a night nanny!
I’ve never been into having a lot of hired help around. Just a housekeeper who comes one time per week. But we hired a full time baby nurse for the first 5 weeks and my only regret was that we didn’t have her for longer (tried to extend but she was already booked to go to another family). It was the best money we’ve ever spent on anything. She was on duty 5 days per week, 24hrs a day. We “practiced” handling it on our own during the weekends. She knew exactly what to do and could teach us the best ways of caring for the baby and also helped us get onto a good sleeping and feeding schedule, as well as answering questions about breastfeeding and recovery from the birth. I was also terrified by SIDS and as a first time mother with no family nearby, I would have been completely overwhelmed. If I had to go back and do it again, I would make the same decision and would have booked the nurse for longer. For me, it was a non-negotiable at the time. I never hired a nanny or live-in help again (not judging those who do, I just prefer not to), but if I were to have a second child, I would absolutely hire the baby nurse again for 8-12 weeks. Happy to make sacrifices elsewhere to put that money towards taking care of the most precious part of my life.
Wonderful to hear you had such a positive experience with your baby nurse! Yeah I know how hard it is without any family close by to lean on for help. And yes, things are hard the first time around. They’re hard the second time too, but in different ways. There is so much uncharted territory the first time that having an experienced baby expert for support is a wonderful, wonderful benefit.
I’m curious as to how you recruited and managed your employees, insofar as: do they have unemployment benefits at this time, etc
We hired wonderful support when our children were young. As we moved around over the years and increasingly realized what value a truly good employee provides, it makes me feel a bit guilty that our best, most stable, loving, and competent employee was the one who least leveraged her value.
In these times, and with the benefit of all that hindsight, I’m sending her a long overdue bonus check (she had bonuses before, but this one is bigger and she doesn’t work for us anymore—different time zones and all). It’s about impact. And perhaps there is a karmic element. Even though my portfolio took a hit, and our RE values are probably going to be off for a while, a 20% bonus, especially in times like these, would make an impact for her in a way that it just doesn’t for us. The love, snuggles, and early learning she provided our kids is every bit of a sound investment as a college fund, not to mention saving the sanity of the new parents.
It might not math out, but it’s part of my long game. My money is a tool, not just a security blanket.
Night doulas are self employed contractors, ie they are not W2 employees. In-home childcare is considered essential work, at least in SF, so night doulas are still allowed to work during the shelter in place. Whether the night doulas or the hiring families want them to work is up to their own choices.
That’s so thoughtful of you to send your former nanny a bonus check!
That was the right thing to do with your former nanny. She deserved that extra bonus check. I wish more people would reward employees or outside help upon reflection of what they really contributed.
If night doulas were around when I had my kids (27 and 26 years ago respectively), I was not aware of it. We were lucky with our son – he was sleeping 6 – 8 hrs/night by 8 weeks. But my daughter sounds like yours. She had GERD, colic, and frankly didn’t end up sleeping through the night until she was more than 8 years old! She was up every 2 – 3 hours at night for at least the first 5 months of her life. I remember little of that time — other than being exhausted, changing diapers, crying, and wondering what I was doing wrong.
My daughter is married to a navy pilot. When she has her first, I will go and spend the first 6 – 8 weeks with them (if at all possible). If for some reason I cannot be with her, I will definitely help them pay for a night doula. In the grand scheme of things it sounds like an excellent investment. Thanks you for sharing your story and the information!
Night doulas were around then (ours started working 30 years ago), but were probably a lot harder to find. That’s incredible your son was sleeping so well by 8 weeks, how lucky! That makes me nervous about our son hearing that your daughter still struggled with sleep at age 8. I’m afraid our son will be the same way. I’ve been hoping that he will consistently sleep through the night by age 5 (because I’ve heard that tends to be a reliable age for sleep) but I guess that’s not always the case.
That’s wonderful that you want to spend 6-8 weeks with your future grandchild. I hope that works out!
Night doula could be a lucrative side gig.
We used a night doula only a few times just for a break because we really really really needed it. In hindsight we should have done it more for more breaks. It is very expensive though and many of us frugal folks have an heart attack just thinking about spending that kind of money for what I’d almost consider a glorified babysitter.
Most people wouldn’t think of using a night doula but most people have some help. We had zero help and a baby with colic and night terrors.
Not sure how well it would work as a side gig unless one isn’t working full-time. Caring for newborns at night is very hard work that really takes sleeping during the day to recuperate and function well at night.
And a night doula is very, very different from a “glorified babysitter.” Sorry to hear you think that way after how I wrote this post in such detail. Perhaps the night doula you hired wasn’t certified or well experienced. Having worked closely with both babysitters and night doulas, I can say with confidence they are not even comparable.
I think it’s a great idea if your kids need extra help. We had a rough time when our son was born too. He didn’t sleep well and didn’t feed properly. We went to formular right away. Luckily, my wife as able to take maternity leave. Then I took 8 weeks off after her leave was over. Her parents also came up to help for a few weeks.
We didn’t sleep well, but we got through it.
Anyway, a doula sounds like a good idea if you need help and can afford to pay.
Financial Samurai says
It’s really great you had your in-laws come help. Our parents are a little too old to provide help and we wouldn’t feel confident in their ability to stay awake and help. It would be too tough on them.
I realize now that I was really worried about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and accidental starvation.
As a man, I also felt helpless during the breastfeeding stage. There can be so many issues with improper latching, soreness, bleeding, low supply, etc. Many times I wished I could have my own supply to breastfeed as well!
If folks are feeling the pinch, but could really need help, hiring a night doula for the first month could really be the best money spent, especially for first-time parents.
It reminds me of when my business travel was mostly by corporate private jet. It was nice for sure, no airport security, the plane took off when we told the pilots we wanted to leave and if we got done early we could leave early. It saved tons of time and it felt nice being pampered. However someone else was paying for it. No way I’d have dropped several thousand dollars per flight of my money. Same thing for doulas, yeah it would have been nice but we had plans to be financially independent and that wasn’t compatible with spending money on ultra luxuries, like private jet flights or doula’s. But if you’ve got the money its a whole different thing, I just doubt there are many people who can afford that expense without setting their retirement dates back several years. I may be wrong but it will be interesting to see if you get even a single comment from someone that spent the money for a night doula. I’m not critical of the concept, heck one of my friends has full time staff at their house and their kids are grown and gone, and his own jet, and his own island and resort houses all over. I admire his success, as I do yours, I just think this is out of reach for most people at the age they are having babies. But I’m wrong a lot and this is probably one of those times.
Financial Samurai says
Sure, could be a similar analogy. I also know people who actually pay someone to clean their house and do their gardening when they aren’t sleep deprived and perfectly healthy. To me, that’s pretty surprising. But I don’t judge.
Hiring a night doula was a way for me to finally break my frugality all these years and help my wife, help my baby, and help me sleep by allowing more sleep. I rest easier knowing that we had professional support at night, especially since I knew of two people whose babies tragically passed away within six months of birth.
If you’ve taken some risks and made some decent investment returns and/or have worked harder than normal, I say you should feel free to spend money on what you value.
Related: Practice Taking Profits To Pay For A Better Life
Well as you can see there are indeed many families who have hired night doulas and baby nurses for help. And please keep in mind it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Some families only hire a night doula for one or two nights a week for the first few weeks or first month, or just ad hoc when the sleep deprivation is really bad. Not all night doulas have the availability to work that type of schedule, but some do. And also, I think there are a lot of families who get great support from grandma and grandpa, sometimes from both sides of the family, and thus don’t need to hire support especially for couples who are having kids in their late 20s/early 30s. When you have “young” grandparents they are typically able to and interested in pitching in a lot, which is such a wonderful blessing. We had kids late and our parents are thus much older too.
Quite honestly I find it shocking that you even thought of having to pay someone to stay with your baby at night considering the fact that neither of you have a nine to five job! Ok, so you write a blog, big deal. You could easily do that at 3pm as at 9am. Or rent a space to write in (under normal circumstances, of course). You certainly aren’t the first people without close relatives nearby or with more than one child. I’m sorry if I say I think it’s terribly spoiled of you to spend the money this way and could understand it if one of you were a surgeon or a police officer or a teacher. In other words, professions in which there is no possibility of rolling into work late or a bit fussy in the head due to lack of sleep.
And yes, I get it, you’re rich so what the heck. Too bad not all of us are, but then again didn’t you retire so you could have time with your family? I guess so but only if you have someone to wash, clean and present you with a picture perfect, well fed, clean diapered baby.
Note: I am a single man with no experience raising a child. I also struggle with self-esteem and money issues.
Financial Samurai says
Hi Frankie – I agree. Nothing is a big deal and we will spend our money as we wish. This article was written to help expecting parents find a solution to postpartum childcare, especially for night time during the first 3-6 months.If you read the other comments, you can gain perspective from other parents.
Sorry you are single and struggling with self-esteem and money issues. Perhaps one of the problems might me found in your comment. You’re going to have a tough time finding someone or keeping someone if you don’t show kindness and empathy. Always try to think of others first. GL!
I can’t imagine the difference that must make. We went without one and looking at all of the information you have provide, I have some regrets. I suppose the sticker shock and knowing that most people don’t use them, makes you think they are not needed. I can tell you after going months without sleep, I had a work trip that I couldn’t miss. I don’t think I have ever slept that well in my life. I actually felt bad for my wife as I was away in a hotel sleeping through the night knowing she was at home battling with the anti-sleep terrorist.
When you break it down and look at the cost versus impacts to your health and sanity, it’s hardly a trade off. solid move. I will definitely share this advice with future new parents.
One slight dig… considering the FS team has been buying houses in cash, I kind of laughed at the difficult discussion comment related to the night doula cost and the stock market decline correlation. $35-50/hr vs. $1M+ in cash offers… I think you guys are going to be okay for awhile handling that additional fee. I guess your position is just a result of your FS planning skills.
Good work! Good luck with the kids, it’s amazing how fast it goes.
Financial Samurai says
No problem with the dig. We only bought one house with cash, not houses. We’re finalizing our mortgage preapproval process now because we don’t have enough cash. But we want as much fire power as possible in case a deal comes around.
I’d love to get your wife’s perspective about whether she would have liked a night doula or not and whether you guys considered one, or not.
I also asked a lot of the mothers whether they would rather have a bunch of roses or a night doula for Valentine’s Day and they laughed their heads off. “Keep the flowers guys. Give me a night doula!”
hahaha yes I can agree, that’s funny.
So I did ask her about if we could reset would she utilize a night doula for either of the kids. Her answer was no. She felt that despite all of the drama with not sleeping there was a bonding experience that she feels she would have missed out on. In her mind the thought of her kids learning to sleep by someone else or finding more comfort in the doula’s routine than ours, might be an issue. I said yea, I see that… but I think the sleep might have changed your mind.
I do recall during one difficult spell, I asked her if she wanted help, and I received a resounding NO! So, I guess we did have a conversation about it, although brief. Of course the conversation probably took place at the wrong time, and during the worst moment. Maybe you need to write another book “The secret to negotiating a night doula”. It could be a nice add on to your severance book.
I did have an agreement in place with my wife throughout. I took care of all night diapers, and bottles since she was nursing. I thought it was only fair that I put some “skin” in the game as well. I don’t think I understood at the time how many diapers and how often the kids would want to feed at night though. So maybe, in retrospect I should ask myself if I would have wanted one. The answer is – yes! Someone take this baby, so I can get back to sleep!!
It really does make so much of a difference especially with babies like ours who fight sleep or have difficult reflux issues that make them too uncomfortable to fall asleep. So yeah it sure would be quite luxurious to get a solid nights sleep in a hotel like you did! :) And yes, it is amazing how fast time goes especially the second time around.
We didn’t hire a night doula with our first. Fortunately we had a lot of help from my parents, in laws, and our sisters. There were some frustrating issues due to conflicting opinions on what should be done with the baby, etc but we bit our tongues for the most part because we didn’t want to cause fights and we got a decent amount of help for “free.”
Fast forward to our second kid and we barely got any help from our extended family. It was like “Oh you guys know what to do now you don’t need us” or more like “the thrill isn’t quite the same for us the second time and I’m too busy with my golf game/soap operas/job. I’ll pop in for a quick visit over the summer sometime.” So we hired a night doula for about 6 weeks. We really wanted more but because we searched late (after our baby already arrived because we were anticipating more help from our parents and siblings) we couldn’t get the doula we wanted for longer than that. It made such a difference to get help at night. We loved it. Glad you guys got great support for so long! Expensive but worth it. Babies are a lot of work especially when you already have a toddler running around.
Oh yeah “everything’s easier the second time” bwahahaha!
I know what you mean about extended family being so nonchalant the second time around. At least you had a lot of family pitching in with your first and that’s great to hear you were able to get a night doula for six weeks with number two. Nights can be so hard for moms and people who don’t understand the benefits of a night doula clearly haven’t been through what we have!