"The daycare I'm visiting today let me know that I could BF when I drop off or pick up if I would like to. Not sure if that will be necessary, but good to know!"
Sweet G-- I HOPE they will "allow" you to breastfeed your very own baby at their location! (calming down now...) I would say if you want/need to plop yourself in the rocker/glider at the center and nurse your daughter before you leave in the morning, or when you get there before the long ride home, you'll have several other mothers doing that very same thing! (or plop down in the middle of the classroom, on the carpet, if you want to, it's all fine with us!)
From the director of a center (that's me) I'd say:
1. yes, do a transition back to work, but do that the last week
before work, no more, because this is your one and only maternity leave for this baby and you shouldn't rush it. we only need 4 or so days for baby to get used to us, we to her, and you to the concept. So do it the week before you go back to work, with a few half days and then the last day before you go back have it be 6 hours so you "practice" having her there a 'full' day (the diff. between 6 and 8 hours isn't that much). During this time, have a pedicure/manicure, go out and buy a few new blouses (unless you're the only woman in the world who can fit back into all her own clothing, in which case you shouldn't admit that as other nursing mothers will KILL you
), and enjoy yourself. And call the center half way through to find out she's doing well, which she will be, but do call anyway so you can relax.
2. wow, going back to work on a Thurs WOULD be nice, wouldn't it? You could start the transition back the Thur before, that's fine!
3. make sure you label, label, label everything. because every baby girl has the same blanket, same cute spring coat, same little tiny hats, and bibs. All cute, but hard to tell whose it is. also, if you're not required to label the bottles in a specific way (I'm VERY specific at our center, we do color-coding), then you should ALSO remember to label the bottle lids because you want to make sure you don't lose those little lids.
4. yes, only get her to take 1-2 bottles at home, partly because when a baby nurses she really drains your breast(s) and that helps you keep your milk supply up. if you pump you won't empty out as much, and your supply could deplete. PLUS, you probably enjoy nursing, so keep on doing what you enjoy in these last few weeks of your leave! If a baby will easily take a bottle, then she will easily take it all the times she's hungry.
5. you don't know how much she drinks right now at a nursing session, and that's FINE - don't stress! Simply bring many bottles of 2 or 3 ozs the first few weeks, so that the center doesn't have to throw out unused bottles - we can always heat up another bottle if your baby seems to need more than the 2 oz bottle, but we HATE (and nursing mothers hate it more) to throw out 3 unused oz of a 5 oz bottle when it's breastmilk. Now, we WILL keep the bottle if you want us to, but we'll label it and put it back in fridge "take home" and you can feed a bottle of milk that's been half-drunk, but we won't. (based on breastmilk research, we shouldn't re-warm a bottle because the milk no longer has the nutrients, but MANY parents do it anyway, so perhaps it's not that much of a big deal? Anyway, if we don't have express permission to do this, we will throw out the undrunk milk after 1 hour of being warmed. So send small bottles at the beginning until we all know how much your daughter will drink at a feeding, then you can start sending larger bottles as she needs it. infants don't drink that much at one feeding, anyway.
6. i'd say you should try to help her learn to fall asleep on her own, vs. while you hold her for an hour. (not that you've said you do this, Fram, but so many parents do!). Because we really, really, really cannot hold any baby forever while they sleep. We have several other babies to care for. So we can help your daughter fall asleep, we'll rock the crib, the baby, rub the forehead, tummy, whatever, but we can't hold her. Plus, it's good to help her develop really good sleep habits now, when she's young, vs. having the "put her in the carseat and drive around forever" or "put her in the stroller and push her forever" crutch going on. Again, we can't do those things!
7. finally, please know that you are not the only mother to (perhaps) cry when you drop her off, either during the transition or on those first days back to work. it's hard, but we understand, and we'll try to help your transition back to work be as smooth as possible. we really understand - I've hugged a few really upset women in my 3 yrs! and, if you DON'T cry then don't be upset with yourself, not everyone does, it doesn't make you a good/bad mother to do either!
8. remember to keep drinking your water when you're back at work so you can help keep your supply up!
9. know that if you want to call the center and speak directly to the teachers EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE you can and should do that. We have some parents who call daily to see how things are going, others who call only when they know their baby had a hard night, is stuffy, getting over a cold, etc. and some don't call at all. We're fine with all of it, but you are NOT a burden if you do call daily!
When you visit a center, spend some time in the classroom observing so you can see how the teachers interact with the babies, and how they soothe them. Sometimes an infant room seems so hectic because many babies are crying or needing something all at once - if you are in a room like that, watch and see how the teachers get to everyone and get things back on an even keel. because they will, by moving calmly and quietly to each baby, or calling to one "I'm changing X I'll be right there to feed you, Y" even tho baby doesn't know exactly what is being said, they do know they are being responded to.
it's hard, but you can do this, Fram!