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Mother Care

Private service professional nurses are replacing untrained nannies as the governesses of choice in urban homes, writes Riddhi Doshi.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 07, 2012 01:04 IST
Riddhi Doshi

First-time mother of twins Neeta Jain’s heart sank when her 16-day-old premature baby girl, weighing just 1.3 kg, coughed incessantly for three days after being brought home from hospital. She panicked when the baby started to turn green on the fourth day. “I had absolutely no idea about what happening to my baby. No one, neither I nor my extended family of 11 people, knew what to do,” says Jain, 30, a home-maker.

That’s when the twins’ personal nurse, Mary Kutty George, stepped in to take charge. She carefully bundled up the baby and rushed her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe pneumonia.

"We made it just in time, she could hardly breathe. I can’t thank my nurse enough," says Jain. "She not just saved my daughter’s life, but continues to be of great help in looking after my tiny, under-weight babies who need special care," adds Jain. She plans to continue with professional nursing care till the twins weigh three kg each. Professional care also allows Jain to sleep while the nurse takes over the feeding, massaging and bathing the twins.



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Like Jain, many first-time mothers — home makers and working women alike — are hiring trained nurses to care for their newborns. Over the past five years, the demand for these nurses has been rising at a steady rate of 30% each year, says Gita Bhambhani, one of the proprietors of the Bina Nurses Bureau in Mumbai.

“When my baby was three-months-old, I hired an untrained nanny. She was unprofessional and once got so engrossed in watching TV that she forgot about the baby, who fell off the bed,” says Sucheta Mittal, 28, a homemaker who lives in Ballygaunge, Kolkata. “Since then, I only get trained nurses from trusted bureaus.”Mittal, who celebrated her son Yuvraj’s fourth birthday this September, now hires nannies from Care, that provides nursing service, in Saltlake in north Kolkata.

Aasthajob.com is another Kolkata-based online agency which provides experienced nannies. The site lists the picture of the candidate along with her resume, which includes her age, address, experience and professional traits. “A lot of our clients- especially expatriate and rich business houses pay as much as 20,000 a month for a trained nanny, and if she knows English, the charges go up,” says Nath, who uses only his second name for business. “In Kolkata, we have an office in Barrackpore and in Delhi we have a branch in Malviya Nagar, where clients can come and interview nannies, register and pay,” he says.
On the flip side, a few mothers get so over-dependent on nurses that they rarely take time out to care for the baby, which is crucial for mother-child bonding, says child psychologist Chandni Mehta. “If a mother fails to establish a strong bond with her child, the child could turn reclusive,” adds Mehta. A working mother who cannot be around her child all the time should squeeze in some time to play with the child and read to him, says Mehta.

"Our job is to help the mother take care of the baby, but some fail to understand that. They hire our services so that they can go out and leave the baby in our care entirely," says George Kutty, 42, a nurse who has been taking care of newborns for the past 18 years. She started working as a private nurse five years ago.



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“Over-dependence on nurses also lead to the baby getting very attached to the nurse and getting emotionally disturbed when she leaves the job,” says counsellor Deepti Makhija. “It is important for every mother to be tuned to her child’s needs. The best way to do so is to be around the nurse when she is bathing, cleaning or massaging the baby and learn all about child care from her, so that the mother can take over from the nurse as soon as she leaves,” says Makhija.

“Not just the children, but even I get very attached to them. Often, on the last day of work, I find myself shedding tears,” says Naisamma Thomas Kutty, proprietor of Angel Nurses Bureau, Mumbai.