Most child care centers and home daycares would say they are supportive of breastfeeding, if you asked them. But you need to dig a little deeper to understand how supportive they really are.
Transitioning back to work after having a baby takes some thought and coordination. When you are breastfeeding an infant, the child care providers can make a big difference in the ease of that transition back to work while still maintaining the breastfeeding mother-baby relationship.
Questions to ask childcare providers about breastfeeding:
1. Do you have a space for mothers to breastfeed or express their milk on site? This space should be private and sanitary (not a bathroom) and have access to an electrical outlet, comfortable chair and nearby access to running water. It may be convenient for you to nurse your baby or pump at drop off or pick up times.
2. Do you have any policies in place to help breastfeeding moms/babies be successful? Just like the rest of us, childcare providers come with their own set of beliefs and experiences about breastfeeding. Having a policy in place helps providers be supportive of breastfeeding and encourages them to handle the expressed milk safely and limit waste. Consider storing your expressed milk in small portions (1-4 ounces) to help prevent waste.
3. Has your staff been trained on how to handle breast milk? Do they receive continuing education about breastfeeding?
4. Is a refrigerator available for storage of expressed milk? What are your guidelines for breast milk storage to keep it safe?
5. How do you determine when to feed a baby? Do they eat on a set schedule or does each infant have a feeding plan? Does your staff know how to identify hunger cues (besides crying, which is a late hunger cue)? Babies should be fed when they are hungry and not on a strict schedule. Babies will be calmer for feedings and will learn to eat when they are hungry.
6. What do you do to help normalize breastfeeding for children? This could mean they have books and toys that show nursing animals or babies or that they discuss interactions between mothers and babies with the children including how they feed.
If the childcare you select is supportive of breastfeeding, but doesn't seem to have all the pieces together yet, there are trainings available to help them move in that direction. Encourage them to become a Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care.
They can learn more by completing the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (NAP SACC). In the Omaha Metro area, child cares can be trained in this by UNL Extension in Douglas/Sarpy Counties. For more information contact 402.444.7804 or [email protected].