Planning childcare is an important part of motherhood and your baby's future. Some options to consider are daycare centers, family member, a nanny or babysitter, an Au Pair or a home-based daycare. Even if you plan to stay home with the baby, you might still need occasional care, and it is practical that you start to look for it now. Trust us, you'll be glad you sorted this out before the baby's big arrival because after the baby arrives your brain will be all baby and sleep deprivation.
One of the best places to start is by asking your family. Many relatives might be eager to lend a helping hand, but reluctant to ask for the opportunity. Others might be able to rearrange their schedules to help out part-time, but you won't know if you don't ask. Should this line fail, you might look around for possible in-home care to keep baby in their everyday environment. Staying in the environment they know might help decrease some of the stress from losing constant contact with mom.
Should relatives, friends, and in-home care be outside your ability to find, there are many other care options available, including daycare centers, church groups, and in-home based daycares run out of personal homes. Reaching out to your network of family and friends, and researching your local area can help you find out what your options are so you can find the right fit for your baby. Be sure to investigate each possibility by visiting the caregivers, asking questions, and possibly doing some background research on the individual or establishment.
You will want to look for a like-minded individual that shares your values and ideas on child-raising and caring for the baby. Be sure to ask questions on how they plan to care for a crying baby, hungry baby, and how often they will be changing diapers or interacting with the baby. Some daycares have an on-demand policy while others have a schedule they strictly adhere to regardless of your expectations. It is better to know and understand their policies beforehand, so you aren't surprised or annoyed later in the process.