Starting child care may be one of the first times that a mother spends longer periods of time away from her baby. This might also co-inside with returning to work. Mothers may believe that they need to give up breastfeeding, but this is not the case.
Child care providers play an important role in supporting mothers during this time of change. Mothers need to know that it is possible to continue breastfeeding while their child is in care.
Ways that child care services can support breastfeeding
- Mention that your service is supportive of breastfeeding when families approach you for the first time. This may be during an inquiry phone call or orientation to the service.
- Let parents know how you can support them to continue breastfeeding while their child is in care.
- Provide factual and practical information about how to continue to breastfeed after returning to work.
- Ensure that parents are aware of support services such as their local Child Health Nurse, the Australian Breastfeeding Association website, breastfeeding helpline 1800 686 268 and local support groups.
- Provide a comfortable place for mothers to feed. Some mothers who work part-time or close-by may wish to come and breastfeed. Other mothers may need to breastfeed when they drop-off or pick up their child.
- Try to provide a private room that mothers can access if they need to express breast milk. They will also need access to a basin for hand washing and may need space in a fridge to store expressed breast milk.
- Support staff and carers to breastfeed. They can be good role models, helping others to know that you can combine breastfeeding and work.
- Ensure that your service has policies and practices supportive of breastfeeding.
- Understand the WHO Code and what this means for child care workers. Ensure that your service does not promote or advertise infant formula.
- Audit your environment. What messages does your service give to families about infant feeding? Is breastfeeding represented as the normal way to feed babies? Consider posters, displays and images in children's story books?
Supportive childcare policies and practices
A breastfeeding policy and documenting clear processes for managing expressed breast milk will help you meet the National Quality Standards, Quality Area 2: Children's health and safety, Standard 2.1 and 2.2.
- Have a breastfeeding policy or include breastfeeding in another relevant policy.
- Document protocols for:
- Safe storage and handling of expressed breast milk
- Heating of breast milk
- Participate in the Australian Breastfeeding Associations 'Breastfeeding Welcome Here' program.
- Create an environment that shows breastfeeding is the normal way to feed babies.
- Consider how your service manages and stores products and equipment needed for formula feeding.
- Consider including the following topics in your policy:
- Discuss how your service supports breastfeeding on first contact with families.
- Describe how you support breastfeeding mothers including the physical space and facilities.
- Describe how you support staff to breastfeed.
9 out of 10 childcare directors agree that helping mothers to keep breastfeeding was an important part of their job
Are you a mother needing help?
Click here to visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association website for information and support