Have you heard of the horror story where a childcare centre threw away a mother’s expressed milk as it was not pro-breastfeeding? We can already imagine how enraged this poor Mummy must have felt to know that someone thoughtlessly disposed her precious liquid gold. And, to top it off, she cannot continue to provide her baby with her breastmilk!
Do take note mummies: before you enroll your little one at the nearest infant care centre, please check if it is equipped to handle breastmilk.
For Mums preparing to return to work and have no choice but to place their bubs in day care, here are a few things to prepare and consider if you are an exclusively breastfeeding mother.
Choosing your infant care centre
If you have decided on placing your baby at an infant care centre, choose one that is located strategically near your place of work.
Not only is this common sense in terms of logistical convenience, it may also allow you ease of access to drop in a few times a day. This is especially important for an exclusively breastfed baby, more so in the early days of being at the centre.
If your baby is used to direct latching, do ask your centre if they allow breastfeeding onsite, either just before you leave for the day and/or during your lunchtime. This would help to ease separation anxiety (for both yourself and baby) as well as help you maintain optimal milk supply.
If for any reason you are unable to do more than drop off and pick up, take leave during the baby's first week at the day care so that all parties can be on hand to assure a smooth transition to the new arrangements.
You would obviously want to choose an infant care centre that is supportive of exclusively breastfed babies, thus do a site recce to ensure that they have the necessary equipment and protocols to handle breastmilk safely, for instance the right kind of storage, warming as well as cleaning facilities for breastmilk and bottles.
Questions to ask your day care manager
If maintaining the success of exclusively feeding your baby breastmilk is a top priority, even at day care, don’t be shy about asking these important questions to the centre manager:
What is the handler-to-baby ratio?
We can assume that the higher the ratio, the more challenging it will be for the caregivers to ensure an optimal feeding experience for the babies as more of them could be due for a feed at the same or overlapping times. It does not mean that centres with fewer caregivers don’t do a good job though. Check to see if their feeding system is an effective one. Some centres do have good planning in place to deal with their charges, say by scheduling and recording the daily feeding times on wall charts.
How is sleeping managed at the centre?
Very young babies have consistent feeding and sleeping cycles which overall help to maintain your breastmilk supply as well. During your confinement period, you might have co-slept with or direct-latched to help soothe baby to sleep. Being at the centre and not being given the bottle to sleep, might result in baby having different coping mechanisms such as self-soothing or wanting to be patted or rocked by the caregiver. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, be prepared that it may affect your overall milk supply.
Prep a good system and steady milk supply for caregiver
Found a centre that you like and trust with regards to supporting your breastfeeding goals? That’s great. Now you need to keep up your end of the bargain.
This means to come up with an easy, fuss-free way for your centre caregivers to feed your milk to baby. Assuming that they have the right facilities in place (cold storage, warming and washing equipment etc), do ensure that your baby’s milk is clearly labelled and as easy to handle as possible.
Hegen’s PCTO bottles are a great choice for this because they go from stackable storage container to feeding bottle in a wink – just by swapping lid to teat. The press-to- close, twist-to-open function also makes it quick and easy to handle one-handed.
It’s also crucial to ensure that you continue expressing as often as possible while you’re away from baby, especially if you’re used to latching directly. The physical and emotional separation would likely affect your milk supply, so be extra diligent in taking time out at work to express a few times daily.
If you’re working long hours, make sure that you have enough storage containers to hold your milk. Once again, Hegen bottles are a convenient choice here as you can express directly into the dual-purpose container.
In fact, if your baby’s infant care centre is near your office, you can even walk over to trade bottles with your freshly expressed milk for empties, thus minimising wastage and the need to carry too many accoutrements!
Photo: Unsplash/Shitota Yuri