So often we hear the term doula or sometimes even night nanny, but the term newborn care specialist (or NCS) is newer to the childcare world. There are distinctions to each role, both in their scope of practice and what they bring to families. Each family, together with our agency help, needs to know what is best for their needs.
An NCS focuses primarily on newborn care and parental education and while they work hard to educate and build up the parents and support the family values, they primarily work independently with only minimal guidance from the parents. NCS are hired most often for overnight or 24/7 support but some will offer daytime only support as well.
NCS are familiar with the typical behaviors, appearance and general care of the newborn and young infant and keep up to date on the latest information and studies on newborn care. They are quick to realize when something is outside of normal. A newborn care specialist is trained to ‘stay within their scope of practice’ and is committed to directing parents to the appropriate resources when an issue falls outside of their scope of care.
An NCS is highly trained in establishing good feeding and sleeping habits and is well versed in various sleep conditioning methods. They typically have an established plan for successfully getting the baby sleeping through the night and on a predictable daytime routine. They work towards helping an infant sleep through the night (STTN) as soon as is reasonably possible.
There are a few different types of doulas, but the two most common are labor doulas (or birth doulas) and postpartum doulas. A labor doula educates and supports a pregnant parent throughout pregnancy, before and during labor. A postpartum doula helps to provide support to the postpartum family in the first few weeks of life.There are other less common doula types as well, including bereavement, antepartum, abortion and adoption doulas. All types of doulas have specific training and certification options through various training organizations. At this time, there are no specific doulas that focus solely on the newborn and/or sleep guidance for infants.A postpartum doula is most similar to an NCS and there are many areas in which the type of care provided overlap, but there are also many distinct differences.
A postpartum doula is a highly specialized and trained childcare provider who focuses on the care and well-being of the newborn as well as the care and well-being of the entire family unit, specifically the birthing parent. Doulas work closely alongside the family and offer assistance with not only baby duties, but through education, breastfeeding support, parent care and household assistance. They often provide some assistance with sibling care as well. Doulas traditionally offer either daytime or overnight support but rarely offer 24/7 care.