What are my childcare choices?

Before you decide what sort of childcare will suit you best, go through all the options. If your parents are still young, they might like to get involved - it's cheaper and often more reassuring if granny is looking after your one and only. A few big employers, such as hospitals and government offices, offer workplace crèches, which are good value for money and have the added benefit of enabling you to pop down to see your child during your lunch break. Childminders and daycare nurseries are cheaper than nannies but may not offer your child one-to-one care, which you may feel your baby needs, particularly when so small.

Once you have decided what childcare arrangements you are going to use, you could spend time with the new carer before you have to leave for work so you get used to another person looking after your baby. You could leave the baby for an hour or so with the new carer while you go to get your hair cut, go shopping or pamper yourself by having a massage or a beauty treatment.

Above all, don't feel guilty. Remember that few things in life are perfect, whether you stay at home full-time or go out to work. But many mothers do go out to work because they share the financial responsibility of running the home with their partner and for other reasons; social contact, mental stimulation, career and whether a woman wants to be with her children all the time. Many women find the whole subject confusing and fraught with anxiety. If you talk about your feelings with your partner or a trusted friend, things may become a little clearer so you can feel confident about your decision.

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