Breastfeeding and Childcare
Keep your breastfeeding routine going strong while others are caring for your baby
Here’s the scenario: Your mother-in-law offers to take the kids overnight, but you’re not sure you’re ready for it. While it’s important to have time for yourself—to get work done, run errands, nap or go on a date with your significant other—that time away from your baby can throw a wrench in your breastfeeding routine. So what do you do? Our team at The Lactation Network is made up of moms, so we’ve been in your shoes. We’ve gathered our best tips for communicating your commitment to breastfeeding to in-laws, babysitters or other caregivers who will watch your little one.
You can say “no”—or “not yet.”
Remember that you’re the mother and you make the final call. It can feel awkward to say “no” to a generous babysitting offer from a well-meaning relative or friend. But you work hard to capture that liquid gold when you’re away from baby and feed on demand when you’re together. If you don’t want to be separated for whatever reason, it’s OK to politely decline.
If you’re not ready to leave your little one, you can still accept help from friends and family. Your mother-in-law will love cuddling with her new grandchild, and you can take this time to catch up on sleep, take a long shower or run a quick errand between breastfeeding. This is also a great time to find a moment for yourself. Pour yourself a glass of wine and catch up on your favorite show or call a friend, while your baby is being cared for nearby.
Plan in advance.
When you’re ready for some time away, whether it’s overnight or for a few hours on the weekend, set a date in the future so you can plan ahead. Having that time allows you to build up a small stash, make sure your supply is steady and solidify your feeding routine. With those pieces in place, you can feel more at ease when leaving your little one.
No one will care for your baby the way you do. But if you’re dealing with caregivers who are opinionated, uneducated or inexperienced when it comes to breastfeeding, don’t be afraid to speak up and share how you want them to handle feedings. Here are a few points you may want to address:
- Feeding doesn’t have to be the first response to every cry. Suggest that they think about what your baby might need: rocking, playing, a diaper change, a nap.
- Explain how to prep a bottle: how to put together the parts, how much milk to add, how to warm it up if needed. Or make premade bottles so it’s as easy as possible.
- If you’d like the caregiver to perform “paced feeding” (which helps prevent bottle preference and overfeeding), offer to show them how to hold your baby and position the bottle. There are also helpful demonstrations on YouTube if you think they’d prefer to view a video.
- Let them know what to do with leftover milk. Should they put it back in the fridge and offer it a bit later? Save it for you to use for milk baths? Toss it?
- Depending on your routine, you can ask that they try to hold off feeding right before you’re due back so you can nurse as soon as you’re reunited.
- Voice your views on formula. What should they do if they need more milk—call you if they’re running low, pull from a frozen stash or supplement with formula?
Share why breastfeeding is important to you.
Even if your mother-in-law or sitter breastfed, she may not remember all the time and effort it took to establish that breastfeeding relationship and maintain a routine. Share your breastfeeding goals, why it’s important to you and how it helps your baby. Giving the “why” behind what you’re saying helps caregivers understand where you’re coming from. You’re not trying to keep the baby from them or micromanage how they feed your little one—you want to keep your breastfeeding commitment and that’s totally valid.
If you need some support or have questions about bottle feeding a breastfed baby, reach out to our team. We’re happy to chat or connect you with an international board-certified lactation consultant. Leaving your baby with a caregiver is a big step, and we have your back!