Oh, the dreaded returning to work after maternity leave. Not that you hate your 9-5 gig because hopefully you don't! But even moms who love their jobs have a hard time transitioning back into the working world. Many women in the U.S. take advantage of a 12 week maternity leave so they can have uninterrupted time to care for their new baby. This is a wonderful time where you get to learn how the heck to be a mom and what your baby needs from you. Even if you think you have no idea what to do - your maternal instincts will kick in and you will pick up on cues from baby. They will be able to communicate to you in fascinating ways! You may even begin to pick up on the different noises and cries they have and what each mean.
Going back to work after this magical time with your baby can be difficult for a number of reasons. Here are some things to keep in mind to help you with the transition.
1. Child Care - you may be feeling anxious about finding the right provider for your little one. You spent several weeks getting to know each little noise they make and exactly what they need. How will somebody else be able to care for them?! Take a deep breath. Although you know your baby best, there a lot of great options for child care. You will need to do some research to see what fits your family's needs. One thing I highly suggest is not just going with the cheapest option if you have any doubts or concerns. You are going to want to feel like your baby is safe and in good hands instead of worrying at the office all day! Check out our recent article on how to choose the best child care provider.
If your provider is close to your work, plan to go check in on your lunch break on the first few days back. This will be more for your own peace of mind and you could also nurse them if they need it at that time. Also consider going to do a practice daycare run before the time comes to get used to the routine and make sure they have all the forms and supplies needed.
2. Take it Slow! Did you know that you don't have to go back to work full time right away? Well, this depends on your position/job but many women have the option of going back to work part-time to ease into the transition. If change is hard for you and you want to ease back into your work routine then have a conversation with your manager as soon as possible to discuss options. Keep in mind, the first week back is usually THE WORST. Everyone is asking how the baby is doing and all you are trying to do is hold back tears because you miss your baby so much! It's a lot to take in.
3. Pumping at Work - This doesn't have to be as bad as you may think it sounds! Your workplace should offer nice, private accommodations for pumping. Figure out the lactation logistics as soon as you can. Even before you go on maternity leave would be ideal. You may need special badge access or access to schedule the room on your work calendar so talk with your manager to figure that out. Decide what kind of a pumping schedule you want to start with and communicate to your manager and team that you are not available at these times. You may not know right away what that schedule will look like as you probably haven't spent too much time away from baby during your leave so nothing is set in stone. If you schedule a few sessions and realize you need more time then you have every right to do that. Being a new mom in the workforce is not easy! Your baby is more important than anything else in your life. There are several laws that protect you as a new mother so don't feel pressured into skipping pumping sessions as this could disrupt your milk supply.
Make yourself comfortable in the lactation room. Bring some snacks because breastfeeding will burn a lot of calories and make you extra hungry. Bring some pictures of your little one. If there are any other mothers using the lactation room, try to introduce yourself. You will have someone to talk to or even joke with because you are going through the same thing! You can also coordinate your schedules so that it works best for everyone. If you feel like your milk supply has ups and downs, check out our recent post on natural ways to increase breast milk supply.
4. Help Baby Transition - You may not have shared your baby with anyone else during your leave but it's time to start. If they are solely dependent on you, it may make it hard for them at first to get used to somebody else (depending on their age). Let Daddy or even friends and family help with feedings, baths, etc. This will get them more comfortable with different people. Are you worried that bottle feeding will stop your baby from nursing? You're not alone. Many women have this fear! The great thing is, you can both nurse and bottle feed your baby and this will be a lot easier for you. Check out our article on how to introduce a bottle to your breastfed baby. Make sure you are getting a great bottle brand! The Wawita bottles are shatter-resistant glass and change color to warn when the temperature is too hot for baby! Babies and parents love these bottles because although they are glass, they are very light-weight and easy to grip!
5. Shift the Night Shift - If your baby isn't sleeping through the night then you may be pulling the night shift. This is going to be hard once you have to go back to work. Try to research tips on getting your baby to sleep through the night. Don't laugh, it can be done! If your baby is still waking up once or twice in the night, ask your partner to help out with the night shift so you can get some rest too. Two weeks before you go back to work, try to start getting to bed early and getting up when you would if you were heading to work. This will help with getting back into your routine.
There will be a wave of emotions so hang in there! This is not an easy thing to do but if you use the above advice it should help you tremendously. Don't feel guilty about having to go back to work. You are working in order to support and provide for your family. If you really can't stand the thought of not being with your little one then talk to your partner to see if it would work out financially for you to stay home or go down to part time.
If you have any questions on this topic please reach out to us! We would love to hear from you. It's always great to follow along on the journey of parenting. Please comment or reach out to us through our Contact page or social media platforms. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to us if you would like to receive updates on new blog posts, new product and special discounts!