Six weeks after the birth of my second daughter, I felt pressured to return to work. I had already started pumping and storing my breastmilk, and was struggling to find openings at daycares close to my home. I was relieved when my Muslim neighbor informed that she would accept my children into her licensed, in-home daycare. She invited me to tour her home and at the end of the visit I told her that my newborn daughter would be fed breastmilk. In a thick arabic accent she replied “Why do you do this? You don’t use Good Start? It’s really good for babies!.” This should of been a red flag for me, but in a rush to get home, I simply replied “no”, and left. To make feeding my child easy for her, I thawed the breastmilk overnight and filled sterilized bottles with individual servings. I tucked a note in my diaper bag with instructions on how to warm the bottle, feed my child and store any leftover milk. Our children went off to daycare and I went back to work. However, after a few weeks, my husband and I observed that she was not properly handling the breastmilk which I partly blame myself for because I never addressed her preference for formula or reminded her of the note in the diaper bag. Eventually, we decided that it would be best for me to quit my stressful nursing job and I became a fulltime stay at home mom, alhamdulilah. Looking back on this experience, I realize that not only is there a knowledge deficit about breastfeeding in the Muslim community but also among child care providers. Because working interferes with the nursing relationship, many mothers end up switching to formula when they go back to work. Consequently, the majority of child care providers have little to no experience with breastfed children. By preparing yourself and your child’s caregiver, you can ensure that your breastfed child is in good hands.
Choosing a child care provider
- Choose a daycare that is close to your job. Therefore, you can nurse right before and after work. Ask your boss if you can leave work to breastfeed on breaks.
- Choose a child care provider who has a positive attitude and supports your plans to continue breastfeeding. A good caregiver will: allow you to breastfeed on-site before and after work, ask questions, be open to discuss your concerns, help to determine how much milk to serve at each feeding and will communicate any feeding problems. A quality provider will not ask for back-up formula, express disgust with breastmilk, discourage you or feed your baby right before your arrival (because you will have told them that you want to breastfeed when you get there).
- Choose a provider who has experience with breastfed children or who is at least willing to learn how to handle breastmilk. Make sure that they are comfortable feeding your child before you rush off to work.
Prepare your child care provider by:
- Making a date to spend a few hours together before you return to work. During this time, she can observe your babies hunger cues and you nursing, discuss any concerns and ask questions. You will be working as team so its important that you have a honest, open relationship.
- Providing written information about the proper handling and storage of human milk.
- Investing in wide-base bottles and teats that resemble the breast.
- Letting her know if you want your child to receive a pacifier for comforting.
- Demonstrating how to feed your baby the bottle. Many breastfed babies bottlefeed easier with the paced feeding method which mimics the natural flow of milk.
- Labeling all bottles with your child’s name and the date the milk was pumped. Some mothers also number the bottles to ensure that they are used before the next is opened.
- Introducing the bottle or cup-feeding to your baby a few weeks before you return to work. If the baby won’t take it from you, have someone else do it at least once a day.
- Showing her how your bottles are put together. Some of the more expensive styles have many parts and can be confusing.
- Asking her if you can store extra milk in the freezer.
- Giving her an opportunity to practice by having her watch the child for at least two short visits before you return to work.
- Discussing how she should feed your infant in case there is an emergency and you are not able to pick-up on time.
Bottlefeeding Breastfed Babies– Nice article by author and IBCLC
How to Meet the Needs of Breastfed Babies in Childcare– Wonderful PDF, great for providers!
Bottlefeeding a Breastfed Baby: Ideas for Day Care and Others-Short handout PDF
Insh’Allah this information is useful for those Muslimah’s who have to return to work or school. Please Help Spread the Barakah of Breastfeeding by Following my Blog and telling others about it.