Service for newborns plans to expand its reach
A few years ago, Denise Stern confronted the same problems that many of her customers face.
She had just given birth to twin girls and had suffered complications from the pregnancy. Stern, who also had a 17 month old son, had a difficult time finding nighttime, at-home help for the newborns.
She eventually was able to find someone, but the situation gave her the idea for her Bristow-based business, Let Mommy Sleep. Its nurses provide overnight care for infants while helping mothers and fathers with parenting skills.
“It’s actually a common story … There’s not enough of a medical need where insurance steps in, but there’s not enough wrong with you where you stay in the hospital … So there’s a lot of folks who fall through the cracks, and skilled overnight care is a necessity for them,” Stern says.
Today, Let Mommy Sleep employs more than 30 newborn caregivers, up from three when the firm was founded in 2010. The company serves around 300 families through its overnight infant care program.
The concept is simple: A nurse goes to a family’s home at night and takes care of the baby, allowing parents to sleep. A shift typically runs from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The cost is $40 an hour for care provided by a registered nurse and $30 per hour for a caregiver who is not a registered nurse. (For twins, the cost is $45 and $35, respectively). Let Mommy Sleep also provides hourly lactation consultations and tips on how to get babies to sleep through the night.
“The perception is always that it’s like ‘Downton Abbey,’ like it’s this rich-person luxury,” Stern says. Nonetheless, she says, her customers often feel guilty about using the service. They often are dealing with issues beyond what is seen on the surface, such as having a chronic condition that’s exacerbated by a lack of sleep.
The company recently won a contract with Fairfax County Public Schools Adult and Continuing Education to teach a course in caring for babies up to six months old. Students who complete the $150 course will be certified as postpartum caregivers.
“We are going to, hopefully, bring that to the rest of Virginia,” Stern says.