Finding a caregiving situation that supports breastfeeding can benefit both mother and baby

The nutritional benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, and many mothers worry about how their new child care arrangement will affect their nursing relationship once they return to work. Finding a caregiver who’s supportive of breastfeeding is beneficial to not only you and your child but also to your relationship with the caregiving staff and your child care experience. Consider the following when seeking a child care provider who’s interested and invested in supporting your breastfeeding efforts.

Care and feeding

Breastfed babies experience lasting benefits, including a reduced risk of infectious diseases, asthma, childhood obesity, and diabetes, while mothers experience a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Breastfeeding can save you money; feeding an infant formula for one year has an average cost of about $1,500.

A child care provider who supports your breastfeeding efforts can help reduce the anxiety and emotional turmoil many mothers experience when returning to work.

When assessing potential care centers, ask if they have the following breastfeeding-friendly policies in place:

Are you allowed to stop by to feed or visit your baby at any time without prior notice?

The ability to make impromptu visits to feed your baby can help ease the anxiety of returning to work while supporting your nursing relationship with as little interruption as possible. A high-quality caregiver will understand your desire to see your baby whenever you are available.

Is there a comfortable place for breastfeeding mothers to nurse or express milk?

Although pumping will likely be the key to your continued breastfeeding success, if you have the opportunity to stop by for a quick visit, you may want to feed your baby directly. A supportive center will have a private space with a comfortable chair for you to nurse.

Is there a refrigerator available for breast milk storage?

The center should have a refrigerator where you can store pumped breast milk in clearly labeled containers. Include your name and the date on each bottle or bag.

Is the staff trained to safely handle breast milk?

Is the caregiver aware of proper storage and handling of breast milk? Waste and foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As any nursing mother knows, pumped breast milk is valuable and should be treated as such.

Are caregivers considerate of your breastfeeding schedule?

One way to provide support is to honor the existing feeding schedule when possible – for example, not providing formula or solid foods without prior permission.

Breastfeeding is healthy and cost-effective, and it also nurtures an intimacy between mother and child. Returning to work can cause enough anxiety without adding fear of jeopardizing the feeding routine and the connection that comes with that. Find a child care provider who understands the importance of breastfeeding and who will work with you to support those efforts in your absence.

The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.