The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that babies be breastfed for their first year, at the least, with supplemental food offered as they age; however, adhering to these guidelines can present quite a challenge to new moms who plan to rejoin the workforce at the end of their maternity leave. Nannies who have their sights set on posts that include a newborn infant can offer a viable alternative to switching to formula, and should take the time to learn how to best support a breastfeeding mother and her baby; here are ten tips to help the caregivers of breastfed newborns support their employers and their decision to provide the best possible nutrition for the child.
- Train As a Lactation Consultant – Nannies who plan to make a career of caring for newborns as a maternity nanny or a newborn nurse can benefit greatly from becoming a certified lactation consultant. In addition to providing you with the knowledge you’ll need to support your employer and being able to offer assistance where needed, this certification is a powerful addition to your resume.
- Respect Pacifier Wishes - Though the “What to Expect” and “Parenting Magazine” online communities have decried the “nipple confusion myth,” it’s still widely circulated and hotly contested. Whether providing a breastfeeding newborn with a pacifier will impede his ability to latch and feed properly is a myth or a concrete reality, however, isn’t the most important thing for a nanny to consider; her first concern should be respecting the wishes of her employer. A breastfeeding mother, especially one who is experiencing motherhood for the first time, will invariably be anxious about the impact that returning to work will have on an established breastfeeding routine. Moms that struggled to establish that routine in the first few days of their baby’s life are especially prone to such anxiety; if your employers request that you avoid pacifiers, it’s important that you respect their wishes.
- Provide Assistance for Moms Utilizing Workplace Facilities – Employers from the largest corporations to the smallest mom-and-pop businesses are embracing breastfeeding mothers and going the extra mile to meet their needs. Should your tiny charge’s mother have such facilities available, bringing the baby to her during scheduled breaks is a great way to help her maintain a feeding schedule and avoid supplementing with formula.
- Offer to Pick up Pumped Milk – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide breastfeeding mothers with a reasonable amount of break time and a private place, other than a restroom, for them to pump their breast milk as needed for one year after the birth of their child. Though many companies have gone above and beyond the demands of federal law to make breastfeeding easier for working mothers, some are reluctant to surrender work time for a mother to actively feed her infant. In such cases, a nanny who offers to pick up expressed breast milk during mom’s lunch break can provide valuable assistance and the support she needs to continue pumping.
- Understand Breastfeeding Basics – Even veteran nannies with extensive newborn experience may be new to the basics of breast milk and breastfeeding; as more health professionals and parenting experts emphasize the importance of breast milk in infant nutrition, however, it’s important for these nannies to familiarize themselves. For example, breast milk will not resemble either cow’s milk or infant formula, and will vary in shade and consistency. Babies also digest breast milk differently than formula, which means that they may require less breast milk per feeding and have less frequent bowel movements than their formula-fed counterparts. By making an effort to educate themselves on the basics of breastfeeding and breastfed babies, nannies are able to better provide the encouragement that a new mom needs.
- Work with Moms to Determine the Best Methods of Storage and Preparation – Some new mothers may prefer to pump and freeze their breast milk for later use, while others may opt to store pumped milk in a refrigerator. Whichever method moms choose, nannies should familiarize themselves with the best practices for preparation and storage. For example, frozen breast milk should never be microwaved, which can both destroy nutrients and lead to hot spots that can burn the delicate tissues of a baby’s mouth.
- Provide Emotional Support and Encouragement – Returning to work after the birth of a child is an emotional time for a new mother, which can be amplified if a breastfeeding routine was already difficult for mom and baby to establish. One of the most important things that the nanny of a breastfed baby can do is to encourage her employer and offer emotional support as she begins to juggle the difficult tasks of maintaining her career and continuing to breastfeed.
- Avoid Feedings Just Before Mom is Due to Return – When your employer returns from work, she’s likely to be just as ready to feed as your charge is to be fed. If at all possible, avoid feeding your charge before mom gets home. Attempt to settle a fussy baby by cuddling, rocking, and talking to him rather than feeding him; if your employers approve, a pacifier may also soothe him until his mother returns and is able to breastfeed.
- Keep a Feeding Log – Dutifully recording the amount your charge drinks at each feeding, what time feedings occur, and any other pertinent feeding information (such as spitting up) not only provides a breastfeeding mother with the information she needs, but also lets her know that you’re committed to helping her achieve her breastfeeding goal.
- Remember That the Two of You Are a Team – Knowing that the person caring for her child is in her corner and dedicated to helping her provide the best possible nutrition for her baby can provide a new mom with the confidence and support system that she needs to maintain her career and a breastfeeding regimen. Make sure that your employer knows that you’re on her team!
As babies reach six months of age and supplemental foods are introduced, nannies should make sure that they don’t decrease the frequency or amount of breast milk their charges receive.