Tips for Educating Your Baby's Caregivers:
- Handling breast milk: Warm breastmilk in warm water and gently swirl the milk to mix the layers of cream. It's important to gently swirl, NOT SHAKE the milk. Daycare caregivers are used to formula bottle preparation, which they shake to mix. I found some air bubbles in Ava's bottles and realized they didn't know not to shake the milk. There are living cells in breastmilk so the milk should be handled gently. My caregivers do a really good job about taking note of Ava's care needs and they have it printed on the board so anyone in the room that's filling in will see my care notes.
- Breastfeed your baby when you arrive at daycare or during lunch: I read this tip in the book Working Without Weaning (which I highly recommend for the practical tips), and she typically wants to nurse when I arrive. Breastfeeding when you arrive helps you reconnect with your baby after the separation and allows you to talk to your caregivers and ask them how the baby was that day. And the bonus is that you can add another breastfeeding to help you stay in sync with your baby's demand and pump less for daycare. My daycare is 30 minutes away from work so I couldn't swing the lunch feeding, but many working moms can do this and it works really well for mom and baby.
- Preferring to breastfeed and eating just enough at daycare: There are days when Ava is at daycare for 10 hours and only drink 2 bottles and a total of 6-7 oz. She holds out until I arrive and we breastfeed many days. Other days, she'll have about 11oz of milk from 4-5 bottles. When she's holding out at daycare, I've asked the caregivers to hold her while feeding (sometimes, they feed babies in the swing!) and I've brought in my shirt so she can have my smell nearby. That seems to work.
- Baby's "on-demand" feeding schedule: Ava's caregivers ask me a lot about how often she likes to eat. And truthfully, you can't compare bottle feeding to nursing because babies nurse for comfort in addition to thirst and hunger. I have no way of knowing how much she eats (in ounces) because without a scale, there's no way of measuring. And breastfeeding mothers find that feeding on-demand is the best for baby. I know her hunger cues and that how I know she's ready. It's like a 6th sense for breastfeeding moms. They just know and our bodies help us out because we feel full. I just ask the caregivers to feed her when she's sucking on her hands. They write down her feeding schedule and they're doing a great job of feeding on-demand. Ava eats some bottles at 3oz and another times only 1 oz. Even from a bottle, Ava does a good job at regulating her intake. Every day is different so it's unrealistic to day, feed her at 2pm, 4pm, etc.
- Keep extra frozen milk at daycare: The first week that I brought Ava to daycare a mom walked in and said "oh no, I forgot the baby's milk today. You'll have to use formula." I decided it would be a good idea to bring frozen bags of milk for the daycare freezer in case they run short on fresh milk for any reason. They've only used 2 bags in their stash, but it's a peace of mind to know that they always have it on-hand. Defrosted frozen milk has to be used within 24-hrs so it's good to keep smaller increments that you know your baby will eat.
Resources for Breastfeeding and Working Moms: