DC Metro Mom
A Nursing Mother's Guide For Finding Supportive Daycare
Are you a nursing mother about to head back to work after maternity leave? Is this the first time you have left your baby in the care of someone other than family? It is important to make sure the daycare provider or child care center you select is sensitive to your needs and wishes as a breastfeeding mother. A quality provider is experienced handling breast milk and is understanding of not only the baby’s needs, but your needs as well.
I am not a breastfeeding expert. I do not go to women's houses and consult on the best hold or determine the strength of a baby's latch. Yet, as a daycare provider, and as a mother that nursed four children, I have a thorough knowledge of nursing from varying perspectives.
Here are some tips for selecting a provider that supports your decision to breastfeed:
A quality child care provider,
-will not demand a back-up formula supply. As a nursing mother, this is your decision alone. You should, however, provide some form of back-up milk – like a few extra bags of frozen milk (if your daycare has storage space). You never want your baby to go hungry. Also, spills can happen and you do not want your baby to suffer.
-will not feed your baby right before you are expected to arrive. She will understand that you need to nurse fairly soon after getting your child. On the other hand, she will hopefully not hand you a starving child that cries the entire ride home. So, make sure you arrive when you are supposed to and call to let your provider know if you will be late.
-will work with you to determine how much to feed your baby at each feeding, i.e. four ounces three-times-a-day versus six ounces twice-a-day.
-will communicate any problems, like a too slow nipple or a refusal to feed.
-will be supportive of you and encourage you in your efforts.
Nursing is not easy. It is a sometimes frustrating endeavor. As a child care provider, I have learned many things from the wonderful women who trust and depend on me to help give their babies their precious milk.
Here are the three most important truths I have discovered:
1.) Nursing is a personal choice. I do not care what is recommended. It is a mother’s decision alone whether or not to nurse and for how long. No one has the right to judge anyone else for such a personal decision. Nursing your child does not in any way make you a better mother than someone who decides not to (or simply can not) nurse.
2.) Nursing is not an all or nothing proposition. The fear-mongers disguised as breastfeeding advocates would have a new mother believing that even a drop of formula will alter your baby forever and/or make you unable to succeed. This is simply not the case. Supplementing with formula, or even nursing only part-time does not mean you have failed at nursing. Your body is amazing and will adjust to your needs within 24-hours.
3.) All nursing mothers worry about whether or not they are producing/pumping enough, or if the baby is getting enough. Nursing involves a blind trust in your own body that is sometimes hard to accept. You cannot measure in ounces what your child is receiving. You can only go by whether or not your child is thriving and/or pooping (which in itself provides a whole other set of worries for parents).
My last piece of advice is more of a plea to any parent even thinking about placing her nursing baby into child care. PLEASE INTRODUCE YOUR BABY TO A BOTTLE. Do not wait until your first day to introduce a bottle to your baby. Let your partner, a grandparent, or a neighbor feed your baby from a bottle many times before his/her first day in care. This will make the transition smoother for everyone.
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