Opening Your Child Care Postpartum
Resuming your daycare business postpartum and nursing simultaneously can be difficult at first, but easily managed with a little planning and finesse.
There is no doubt that breast is best when weighing your new baby’s feeding options. Breast milk is more convenient than formula, contains antibodies and disease-fighting enzymes, and it is organically produced for your child’s specific needs. Most will agree that breast milk wins hands down in the formula vs. breast milk battle.
Setting Up a Nursing Routine
So why do some providers find great difficulty in achieving a successful nursing routine while operating a child care business?
The reality is, some parents are uncomfortable with breastfeeding as a whole or are apprehensive about the possibility of their child witnessing a baby nursing. These attitudes inhibit a dedicated provider’s ability to nurse as often or as long as they may want while operating their child care business. Additionally, providers are often afraid to discuss their intent to nurse with parents for fear of losing a client. However, it is good practice to let your parents know your plans to breastfeed so that they may explain it to their children should they happen to see you nursing during the day.
An open conversation will also allow parents the opportunity to express any concerns they may have or pose questions about breastfeeding in general. Now is an excellent opportunity for you to educate parents on breastfeeding should they be interested, noting that it is natural and can be done quite discreetly.
The main concern of most parents will involve your breastfeeding schedule during care hours.
How to Discuss Your Breastfeeding Plans with Parents
Questions you should be prepared to answer:
- Will you nurse on demand, and if so, what will the other children be doing?
- If you are in the middle of an activity when the baby is hungry, will you ask the other children to stop while you nurse?
- Are you going to put the baby on a feeding schedule? How will the nursing schedule affect your child care business schedule? Will you limit the children’s exposure to your nursing?
- If that is your plan, how do you plan to nurse privately while providing direct visual care to your daycare children?
Now is a good time to consider answers to these questions so when the time comes to have the conversation you are not stumbling over your words or searching for the right thing to say. You are the authority on breastfeeding in this instance.
Successful and long-lasting breastfeeding will require planning in advance.
Planning for Nursing
If you plan to nurse on-demand:
- Have a set of quiet activities on the ready for baby’s mealtimes. You will want to have many activities planned since nursing on demand can be unpredictable. Direct the children to a central location, such as the activities table or circle-time rug, to read or color. Place yourself and baby within your peripheral view of the children but perhaps not within their direct line of vision.
If you plan to put baby on a feeding schedule:
- Try for low activity time such as quiet/imagination play, naptime, after meals and before school-agers arrive. Baby is likely to nurse longer when it is quieter and stress is low, and you will have a better handle on the children should the need arise. Feeding schedules work well with child care businesses.
Other good tips include:
- Invest in a sling or make your own. Coupled with an easy-open nursing shirt, the sling offers a convenient and discreet way to nurse anytime and anywhere.
- You may decide to nurse only during naps, before and aftercare, and pump for the times in-between. This is a good solution if you have parents who are absolutely against breastfeeding or are very uncomfortable with it. Although it would be beneficial to obtain material from La Leche League to educate them, depending on the parent it may not be the best course of action.
Your child care business is your own and should not be dictated by anyone other than yourself and your licensing agency. If you plan to breastfeed and find opposition from your daycare parents you may want to re-evaluate your options, including terminating your child care relationship with that parent. After all, the breast is best.