One of the most important things I need to resolve before I go back to work is finding child care for my son Joshua. While there are many qualities that I'm looking for in a child care provider, finding a breastfeeding-friendly facility is a priority. I want to successfully continue our breastfeeding relationship when I go back to work, and I need to make sure that our child care provider is on board. Before visiting day came, I made a list of questions to discuss, which turned out to be long! After visiting, I was really happy to have a list of questions because I took notes and felt I had a good comparison of different places. In the end, I was able to choose the child care facility that I feel is best for Joshua and our whole family.
I was looking for child care providers who are breastfeeding-friendly and know how to appropriately store and heat breast milk. I learned that the provider we chose will label the bottles with a red label, instead of a white one used for formula, which will contain Joshua's name, the amount of breast milk, and the date. The breast milk will be stored in a refrigerator and heated in a bottle warmer that's used specifically for breast milk.
It's important to me that Joshua is held as he eat, even when he's old enough to hold the bottle himself, and that the bottle is never propped for hands-free feeding. This is written policy of the provider that we chose, to encourage bonding. I want my son to be able to eat until he's full, just as he would at the breast, instead of being forced to finish the bottle. I also don't want Joshua to be given a pacifier, since we chose as a family not to use them, and the child care provider will honor this. We plan to practice baby-led weaning, and Joshua will not be given any food that we have not already given him at home and provided in addition to his bottles of breastmilk.
I currently nurse Joshua on-cue (also known as on-demand), and I want his child care provider to continue to feed him when he's hungry, instead of on a schedule. We chose a provider that does not have any schedule for infants, allowing them to eat, sleep and play on their own time. As he grows older, Joshua will be transitioned into a schedule that will allow him to move into a more structured toddler class.
Finally, I was looking for a facility that provided me with a place to nurse Joshua when I pick him up. I imagine after being apart all day, especially in the beginning, Joshua will want to nurse as soon as he sees me. Nursing him will help relieve his initial stress of being separated from Mommy all day, and will also help me to relax and forget about any stress from work. The child care provider that we chose not only allows but encourages moms to nurse when the pick up their babies.
It was a relief to find a child care provider who is supportive of breastfeeding, as well as respects and shares our values on other issues, such as not "crying-it-out," using gDiapers (which is a hybrid cloth-and-disposable diaper), providing time outside, and having an appropriate curriculum. I know that Joshua will be in a safe, comfortable, loving environment when I'm not with him, and that our breastfeeding relationship will continue to thrive.