Your nursery's been set up for months and you've read every new mom book published within the last decade. But when that bundle of joy finally arrives, you probably won't feel ready. Don't worry-it's totally normal. We've compiled the best helpers in Chicago to fix everything from inverted nipples to colicky newborns.
What: Lactation consultant
Why: Even if you took a breastfeeding class at the hospital, you may need help once you bring your baby home. "The breasts you arrive with in the hospital aren't the ones you come home with," says Jane O'Connor, RN, a consultant with Lactation Associates. Consultants can help with supply issues, latching problems, sleepy eaters and even pumping difficulties.
Who: Lactation Associates, lactationassociates.com, (847) 509-8302
Cost: One home visit plus follow-up phone calls cost $160-$200. Check with your insurance company first-many will cover at least a portion of the fee.
What: Postpartum doula
Why: The house is a mess, you haven't eaten in days, haven't showered in weeks, and the baby's crying. Yes, there's someone who can help with everything-day or night. "Postpartum doulas will cater your care to what makes sense for your family," says Jeanette McCulloch, director of Birthways. The care can be anything from holding your baby while you shower to cooking a meal, doing your laundry or helping with breastfeeding. They specialize in taking care of the needs of the mother-so you tell them what you need and they will make sure you're in the best shape to take care of your baby.
Who: Birthways, birthwaysinc.com, (888) 506-0607
Cost: $25-$30 per hour. Inquire about their sliding scale.
What: Baby nurse or night nanny
Why: Your baby is probably eating every three to four hours throughout the night. After the marathon feeding session is over, you need to change the diaper and rock the baby to sleep. By the time you crawl back into bed and fall asleep yourself, it's time to feed the baby again. A baby nurse will bring your baby to you so you can feed him if you're breastfeeding-or the baby nurse will feed the baby formula, if requested. Then you can go back to sleep while the baby nurse takes care of changing the baby, swaddling him and getting him back to bed. The name "baby nurse" may be deceiving, however. While many of the people working as baby nurses are actually registered nurses, others may simply be caring grandmothers or baby specialists.
Who: Sweet Dreams Infant Care, sweetdreamsinfantcare.com, (708) 429-2229
Cost: $25 per hour for a baby specialist, $30 per hour for a registered nurse. Add $5 per hour for twins.
What: Food delivery service
Why: You're probably sick of casseroles by day four, but you haven't managed to shower, let alone whip up a tasty meal. There are companies that allow you to log on to their websites, choose from hundreds of dinners and two days later, a cooler full of frozen home-cooked meals will be waiting for your microwave. You can order everything from tortilla-encrusted tilapia to chicken cordon bleu-and they can even ship ice cream to your door.
Who: Schwan's, schwans.com, (888) 724-9267
Cost: 75 cents-$14 per serving, depending on the meal, plus about $15 for delivery.
What: Fussy baby support
Why: Hours upon hours of crying can make even the most
patient parents panic. Thankfully, there's a phone number you can
call if you are concerned about the root of your baby's crying.
They'll help you work with your baby's colic-
or they can be the person you call when you're feeling overwhelmed and just need someone to listen. You can also request a home visit to create strategies to calm and soothe your baby.
Who: Fussy Baby Network at the Erikson Institute in Chicago, erikson.edu, (888) 431-2229
Cost: Free phone support, sliding scale for home visits. They promise that no one will be turned away due to cost. Check with your insurance company-most will cover this service.
What: Personal shopper
Why: You're probably not in the market for a ball gown or designer heels, but you may need someone to run out and get you diapers, nipple shields, a bigger onesie or soy formula. They can even return and exchange gifts. It doesn't matter. The point is you're probably too exhausted to be running from shop to shop looking for the perfect newborn mittens, but there are people who can do that for you. Use them one time or once a week to take care of your chores.
Who: Chicago Anytime Assistants, chicagoanytimeassistants.com, (312) 320-6789
Cost: $35 per hour.
What: Postpartum therapist
Why: Postpartum depression and anxiety is hard on you and the baby. But help is readily available in the Chicago area. There are ample group sessions, mommy gatherings and therapists who specialize in postpartum depression.
Who: NorthShore University Health System has a 24-hour postpartum crisis hotline at (866) 364-6667. Ask your obstetrician for a psychiatrist recommendation or contact Women's Behavioral Health Services through the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation at (312) 695-8249. Most hospitals hold postpartum support groups, so contact the hospital closest to you to find one in your area.
Cost: Most therapy sessions are covered by insurance.
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer and Chicago mom of one.
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.