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
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)
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
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)
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
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
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)
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
Danielle Braff is a freelance writer and Chicago mom of
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.
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