Breastfeeding mothers who are going back to work have a lot on their minds. You might have already started worrying about keeping up your milk supply and expressing milk in the workplace. But have you thought about how your childcare provider could make or break your breastfeeding experience?

Juggling breastfeeding and childcare can be manageable with communication and planning.

Here are five tips for making the whole breastfeeding-and-daycare thing work out:

1. Select a caregiver who is 101% supportive of your breastfeeding goals.

Remember that no matter how much training and information a caregiver has, it won’t substitute for shared values and mutual respect. Be sure the caregiver or facility creates an atmosphere (both a physical atmosphere and a communication environment) that protects and supports breastfeeding.

2. Know federal laws and your state’s regulations about breastfeeding and childcare.

Along with that, be aware of any special recognition or resources that childcare providers have or have access to that support breastfeeding. Listen to our podcast to learn more about policy and guidelines, and what they mean for your family.

3. Clearly communicate your goals, preferences, and directives.

If you are determined to have nothing but your milk offered to your child, be upfront and say so. You may want to breastfeedyour baby when you arrive at the caregiver’s location – make sure they know not to offer the baby a full feeding minutes before your scheduled arrival. If a pacifier is okay but formula is not, be sure you make that clear.

4. Clearly write out your child’s needs, norms, and preferences.

Remember that many childcare providers, even if they have undergone training, have had little experience with breastfed babies. Until now, they’ve had no experience with your baby! Ask them to keep brief notes about your child’s feeding experience each day. You’ll know how to best express and provide enough milk, and they will know how to best offer what your baby needs.

5. Predict and plan ahead for issues and problems that might happen that will be different from the at-home situation.

The away-situation is fraught with many issues: traffic jams and late pick-ups, overfeeding, and the baby refusing an artificial nipple are just the tip of the iceberg of issues that require some advanced planning and problem solving. If you have built a good relationship with your childcare provider, you’ll be better able to overcome these challenges in caring for your baby.

To help you navigate breastfeeding and childcare, I am offering two free resources to anyone who signs up as a Marie Insider. It’s free to sign up! Once you become an Insider (the opt-in page can be found here) you will have access to two wonderful handouts:

  • What Every Parent Needs to Know About Finding the Right Childcare for Your Breastfed Baby
  • What Every Parent Needs to Know About Breastfed Baby’s Feeding Plan for Childcare

Do you have a feeding plan with your childcare provider? How do you handle breastfeeding and childcare situations?

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