Breastfeeding and Your Caregiver

As a working mom, considering who will take care of your baby once they’re born likely weighs heavy on your mind. If you’re breastfeeding, the task of finding a childcare provider comes with an added stressor. Not only do you need to find a safe place for your child, but you need to find a day care who understands the importance of supporting your breastfeeding relationship. While it’s tempting to stay home forever, that’s just not a possibility for most of us and, when you’ve worked hard for your career, going back to work is an important part of maintaining your identity. Still, the task is daunting. On top of getting your baby’s nursery ready, preparing for birth, and making a slew of other family-related choices, you also need to find a trustworthy caregiver for your baby. Where do you begin?

Don’t Be Shy, Ask Everyone You Meet for Insight

Whether you’re moving to a city or are a first time parent, you probably don’t have a lot of insight into the best childcare providers in your area. This makes working up the nerve to ask around for advice very important. Ask your coworkers and friends about what they did when they needed childcare, find out if their providers where breastfeeding friendly. You can also search on rating websites like Yelp.com for childcare reviews or use Facebook to find parenting groups in your area. These groups can be great resources for asking childcare questions or questions about breastfeeding and parenting in general. There are also websites like Care.com which allows you to post ads for nannies and babysitters. Through the site you can post exactly what you’re looking for, run background searches and read nanny profiles.

Choosing Between Caregivers by Asking Questions

Once you’ve got a few childcare providers in mind, whether it’s a day care center, a nanny, or your mother in law, asking the potential care givers plenty of questions is a good way to figure out who will work best for your family. On top of asking about their child care credentials and ability to keep your infant safe and happy, be sure to ask these breastfeeding related questions:

  • Have you taken care of a breastfed baby before?
  • How do you plan to store and prepare breast milk?
  • Have you ever dealt with a baby who struggled to adapt to bottle feeding?
  • Are you ever available to bring the baby to my place of work?

While the last question is more for nannies or family members who may watch your child, it’s a good question to ask in order to get an idea of your care giver’s flexibility. If your favorite choice for a care provider hasn’t taken care of a breastfed baby before, as is sometimes the case with family members, don’t worry! More important than their experience with breast milk is their willingness to learn and commitment to supporting your breastfeeding relationship.

The Differences in a Breastfed Baby

If your chosen day care provider hasn’t taken care of a breastfed baby before, provide them with information on breastfeeding. Suggest that your caregiver look over reading material such as La Leche League’s “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,” or our website here at LatchedMama.com. It’s also important to remind your care provider that there are some normal differences between breastfed and formula fed infants. Some of these differences include:

  • Frequency of feedings. Sometimes, care givers who have never worked with breastfed infants before will see these babies as fussier than formula fed babies. This just isn’t the case! Breastfed babies may appear fussier as they often need to eat more frequently, but in smaller amounts. This is because breast milk is digested in under two hours while formula takes a bit longer. Although the amount of milk taken in a sitting varies from infant to infant, most babies under six months will drink between two to four ounces in a sitting. Babies older than six months will likely drink between four and six ounces.
  • Breast milk separates naturally when in the refrigerator or freezer. If your care giver notices that your breast milk has separated, simply heat (by placing bag/bottle in a bowl of warm water) and gently swirl or roll to mix.
  • Bowel movements in breastfed babies looks different. Breastfed babies have stool that is loose, seedy, and the color of mustard. Bowel movements may also be sweet in smell. Formula fed babies tend to have harder stools. It’s also not uncommon for breastfed babies to go for a few days without stooling or to have a little bowel movement every time they eat.
  • Breast milk may vary in appearance from mom to mom or feeding to feeding. Your breast milk changes to meet your baby’s needs which vary based on their age, health, and even the time of the day. Ensure that your child care provider understands that no two pumpings will look the same.

Ask Your Care Provider About How They’ll Care for Your Breast Milk

Most states have laws in place about storing breast milk as well as heating it up. Ask your chosen daycare provider what their plan is for this. Your care provider may ask for a batch of breast milk to store over a longer period of time or that you bring in fresh breast milk pumped from the day before each day. If your day care provider stores breast milk for longer periods of time, ask them to review safe storage guidelines. Other things to discuss with your day care provider include:

  • Separating your milk from another mother’s. Sharing breast milk is, in most cases, avoided because certain blood borne pathogens like HIV may be transmitted via breast milk.
  • Thawing breast milk. To thaw your milk, the care giver should let it sit in the refrigerator for twelve hours or run it under water, gradually increasing the temperature, until it is at the desired temperature. The safest way to warm the breast milk is by placing the bottle in a designated bottle warmer or in a pot of warm water. Breast milk should be given to the baby when it’s just about the temperature of the human body, about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Breast milk should never be heated in a microwave. Microwaving breast milk may cause inconsistent heat and could harm your baby.

Going back to work isn’t always easy after having a baby but embracing the idea that it truly takes a village to raise a child may help. With a strong relationship built on open communication from the start, you may find that sending your baby to a breastfeeding friendly day care provider may even improve you are your baby’s breastfeeding relationship.

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