Victoria Clifford is our highly-recommended certified Maternity Nanny. Victoria has travelled the world as a high-profile family Maternity Nanny since she’s left her home country, New Zealand.
Among her list of high-profile families is movie, star Uma Thurman. She lived with the Thurmans while caring for her youngest daughter for 6 months. Victoria shares her insights into travelling as a child-care professional, bringing home a newborn, and supporting first-time mums in our interview.
What is a Maternity Nanny?
A Maternity Nanny or a Night Nanny care for the newborn and supports 1st-time mothers in their own home. It’s all about helping the family settle into their new routine like good feeding and sleeping habits and letting mum catch up on rest.
Medical training is not a requirement, however, I am a certified nanny with maternity training. I completed my training through an Internationally recognised Nanny School in New Zealand.
How did you get into Maternity Nannying?
I’ve always known I wanted a career in nannying ever since I was in school, so I just went after it. I became a certified nanny in New Zealand and have left to travel the world with my career, spending most of my career in New York, the Bahamas, and London. I decided I loved working with newborns and supporting new mums, so I’ve continued to do so ever since.
What does your working shift usually consist of?
Mums are looking to get a good night’s sleep, so my shifts generally start at 9 or 10 at night through till 6 o’clock in the morning. One of my requirements for work is the family needs to provide a bed for me so that I can get some rest when the baby sleeps. The baby is typically in the room with me because newborns should be watched overnight and I can get rest in between feeds.
Sleep is a learned behaviour, so I typically get the baby sleeping through the night by 12 weeks using self-settling techniques. I always say to people, that teaching your child how to sleep through the night is an investment that will last a lifetime. Sleep is so important for their growth and brain development.
I also take phone, email, or in-home consults during the day. I write routines for families and answer any questions they might have. My consults come with 2 weeks follow up support and my overnight bookings of 12 weeks or longer come with 3 months of follow up support.
You are raising a 3-year-old daughter, Amelia and a 9-month-old baby, Chloe. How do you find the time to do it all?
I typically work 3-5 days a week with a family overnight. I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband who helps me with the girls so I can rest on the weekends.
My mum, who lives on the Gold Coast has been an incredible help. My mum came to London with me and my daughter while I was 20 weeks pregnant to work as a Maternity Nanny for a special family who asked me to help them with their second child.
Advice for mums
It’s hard nowadays because people don’t have as much family support as we used to. Grandparents, friends, relatives would be around to help with the newborn and show mum how to settle her baby, but times have changed.
There are heaps more career women out there. How can they be expected to focus on their career when they have a 6-week old baby not sleeping. I can’t stress enough how important sleep is.
For advice, I would say “stay calm,” but I know it’s hard to when you hear your baby cry. There is help available out there for mums, and as mums, we need to know it’s okay to ask for help. Post-natal depression is a lot higher now along with Super-Mum syndrome. People need to get comfortable asking for help when they need it.
Tips for getting the baby to settle for sleep
I’ve found sleep signs and consistency to be effective for helping babies know it’s time to sleep, like swaddling the baby or playing white noise. I believe in using gentle techniques, so no controlled crying or letting the baby “cry it out.” My 3-year-old daughter, Amelia is such a big help with her younger sister. She will set up the iPad to play white noise for Chloe to help her settle for sleep.
An overtired baby is the hardest to settle. A new mum's go-to thinking is that the baby needs to feed, but that’s not always the case. It’s a hard habit to break. You want your baby feeding every 2-3 hours leaning more towards 3 hours. It’s all about the habits and nipping the bad ones early on and teaching your baby how to sleep through the night.
When should people look into booking you for work?
People wanting to book a Maternity Nanny should arrange for one as soon as they know their due date. I'm fully booked until October, but I’m always available to do consults during the day over the phone.
Some families like to have the first couple of weeks on their own to get to know the baby, but others want me right from the start so they can sleep through the night because bringing home a baby is so exhausting. The mother has just been through childbirth, and it’s a huge strain on the body. If I can help them get some sleep, it makes my job rewarding.
If the family’s budget only allows them to have me help for 6 weeks then, I recommend 6-12 weeks as this is when we can achieve the best results.
What do you wish people knew more about nannying?
It makes me sad that nannying is not recognised as a career. I’m fully qualified and have wanted to work with children since I was in school. Daycares don’t work for many families. The CEOs, surgeons, and lawyers who put in long hour work days can’t put their kids in daycare and they can’t do their job without having someone to look after their little ones, so childcare professionals are an essential role.
I always say nannies aren’t cleaners. They are there to support the children and the chores around the children and having a nanny in the home is a great addition. And for those looking to become a nanny, it's such a rewarding career path that has guided me to different countries and meet the most amazing people.