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Making It Work

Preparing Your Child Care Provider for Your Breastfed Baby

From NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 24 No. 3, May-June 2007, pp. 134-135

"Making It Work" is a regular feature of the magazine NEW BEGINNINGS, published bimonthly by La Leche League International. In this column, suggestions are offered by readers of NEW BEGINNINGS to help mothers who wish to combine breastfeeding and working. Various points of view are presented. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature, and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise.

Mother's Situation

How do I prepare my child care provider for caring for my exclusively breastfed baby: bottles, warming frozen milk, handling leftover milk, and how much my baby might drink? It seems like a lot of information, especially if a person isn't familiar with handling human milk. If possible, I am going to go the daycare provider's home on my lunch hour to breastfeed. How do I approach her with all this information? And what are the most important things to emphasize?

Mother's Response

Some daycare providers are experienced with caring for breastfed infants; others are not. Often, this is a question that parents ask during interviews with prospective providers. Even if a provider hasn't yet had any experience with caring for a breastfed infant, many are willing to learn more about it and work with you.

For most parents, it helps to explain why providing your milk for your baby is important. Ask the daycare provider to help you reach your goal. By getting them on your side, you make it much more likely that they'll work with you later. Provide a sheet, one-sided is best, with information the provider will need. Often, providers don't know what expressed milk may look like, how to store it, and how to feed it to the baby.

In my daycare, I've found that most breastfed infants will take about one to one-and-a-half ounces per hour that they are in care, divided up into three or four servings. So, for mothers that are gone from baby for 10 hours, their infants usually take 10 to 15 ounces of expressed milk. However, some of the mothers have the ability to come and breastfeed their babies at lunchtime. This means that as the provider, I'll only be giving the baby one feeding in the morning, and one in the afternoon. It seems that this lunchtime feeding eliminates the need for about 1/3 of the amount of milk needed each day. Occasionally, a mother takes an early lunch, so the baby doesn't get a morning bottle. That's okay, too.

If you can, feed your baby when you arrive at the provider's to drop them off in the morning, even if you've just fed him at home. Let your provider know if you want to feed your baby when you pick him up in the afternoon, too. This provides more milk to baby "straight from the source," and so it's less that you have to pump. Also, ask the provider not to feed your baby in the last couple of hours or so before you're expected to arrive. This helps to ensure that baby is hungry when you are ready to feed him.

You'll also need to discuss labeling with the provider, as some jurisdictions require that all baby food brought from home be labeled. Some providers aren't allowed to store extra milk in the freezer, and must have the milk provided to them in bottles, ready to feed, while other providers can be more lenient. You'll want to work this out before your first day back at work! Going back to work is a huge adjustment for everyone involved—mother, father, baby, and caregiver. Expect that everyone will need several weeks to adjust to the new routines, feeding cues, and situations. Don't expect perfection at the beginning, and allow for re-evaluation of the situation, sometimes on a day-to-day basis, until everyone has a routine that they are happy with. Eventually, you will all adjust, but the first day is always hard. Personally, I think it's always hardest on the mother, not the baby.

Shannon Rittenhouse
Sterling VA USA

Mother's Response

Your positive attitude is of utmost importance. My part-time child care provider never breastfed and had never cared for a breastfed baby. I planned to go to our first meeting with frozen milk, plenty of reminder notes, and my son in tow. My goal was to spend a few hours with our daycare provider to help her understand why breastfeeding was so important to us. As we settled in for the visit, I nursed my son. A few hours later, we ate lunch and my baby breastfed again. During the time we were together, the daycare provider asked many questions about breastfeeding.

I told her I really needed her help to make it work. I educated her on warming frozen milk and handling leftover milk. Together we developed a plan. Her biggest fear was not having enough milk, so I moved most of my freezer stash to her house.

I worked midnight to 8 am. My husband took the baby to her house at 6:30 am and I stopped on my way home to breastfeed him, and then went to our house to sleep with the phone on. Sometimes I got up and went over to feed him, and other times she used my milk. My provider and I shared a lot of ideas. We were a strong team. It worked so well that we did a lot of the same things with baby number two.

Vera Lynn Richardson
Chillicothe OH USA

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