The midwife will usually contact the maternity nurse when you are about 7-8 cm dilated. During labour she will support both you and your partner, as well as assist the midwife. After your baby is born, she will stay until you are comfortable and all your needs are attended to.
Your maternity nurse, with your permission, will support you for the following 8 days. She will teach you all you need to know about caring for your baby, help you to put your baby to the breast (if you have decided to breastfeed), or can explain how to prepare formula. She can give you tips for how to deal with your baby crying through the night, and cheer you up when you have trouble adjusting. She knows all the tricks to make your transition into motherhood as smooth as possible.
On top of this she will take care of you, your baby and, if applicable, your other children. She will check whether you are experiencing normal blood loss, if your uterus is shrinking at the correct rate, whether your breasts are susceptible to infection, how well any wounds are healing and so on. She will clean and bathe your baby during the first days. After a few days you can slowly take over as she supports you and gives you advice and tips.
She’ll also keep the house tidy and clean, but she’s not a maid! Maternity nurse activities are dependent on the number of care hours you have been assigned, and your family’s circumstances. As you can imagine, there is less time for housework when there are several children in the family, or other problems need to take priority. They will keep the shower and toilet clean, and freshen both your bed and the baby’s cot on a daily basis. If time allows, dusting and vacuuming might be done, but you can not expect the maternity nurse to clean the entire house. Most maternity nurses have a lot of experience with all aspects of baby care, as well as all the strange emotions that emerge from labour to birth, so you can freely talk about any of your worries with her. She won’t think you are nuts, she’s seen it all before!
Furthermore maternity nurses are the link between you and your midwife. They will report details to your midwife during your midwife’s visits, and contacts the midwife when anything out of the ordinary occurs. Obviously, you can not expect all this if you do not have a maternity nurse 24 hours a day. If you have chosen to employ a maternity nurse for 3 hours a day, she will not be able to manage more than to care for the baby and yourself.