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Returning to work from maternity leave can be scary and overwhelming. It can be the perfect storm for emotions. Some tips below will help ease the transition so your whole world doesn’t come crashing down. For the majority of moms, it will be hard to leave your baby to go back to work. It won’t matter if it is your first or 5th child. You have been around this little bundle non-stop for at least 6 weeks. Maybe you have been able to stay home for 6 months and this will be even more of a shock. Yes, some moms are excited to go back to work but there is still a part of you that will miss your little one.
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Depending on how long its been since you gave birth, you will often still have tons of leftover pregnancy hormones coursing through you, which can make regulating emotions challenging. Even if you love your job, there will still be some anxiety about returning. You have been out of touch for a while and they had to move on without you. Things can change while you are gone. New people are hired that you
1) Start planning
There is a lot to do to get ready, but these 7 steps will ease the transition back to work after maternity leave. If you have been exclusively breastfeeding on maternity leave you will want to start introducing a bottle 2-3 weeks before you return to work.
Another issue you might be dealing with is that you still only fit in maternity clothes. Before having kids, a lot of people don’t realize that you often won’t be fitting into your pre-pregnancy clothes for at least 3-9 months after having the baby. It took your body 9 months to stretch to where it was. It will take some time for you to lose the weight and things to shrink back to where they were before. Try not to stress too much about this. Growing a human is not an easy task and your body has gone through a lot.
2) Secure Childcare
Ideally, you will start looking into childcare a few months before your baby is born. Do you have a family member that is able to watch your baby? Do you want a nanny to come to your house? How about an
You will need to communicate with your work about when you plan to end your maternity leave and come back to work. You will usually need a doctor’s note saying that you are able to return to work. A vaginal birth usually requires less healing time than a c-section does. It is also important to communicate with your spouse or anyone else that you hope to get help from. Make sure everyone is on the same page about expectations. If you have older children, communicate about new schedules and routines for the mornings.
If you are breastfeeding, you will want to start trying out your pump before going back to work. The Medela Pump in Style was my preferred pump for all three of my boys. Each time I had a child, I would apply online to get a new, free motor for the pump through insurance. Using the pump 3-5 times a day for about a year can definitely wear down a motor. In your pump bag, I recommend having some breast pads in case you leak, extra parts for the pump and some storage bags. I would usually bring three Medela bottles every day to work to store the milk. You will need a cooler bag (listed below) to put the bottles in and store in a fridge during the day.
The Have Twins First blog has great information about a pumping at work schedule.
I never had a huge breastmilk supply so I didn’t have a lot to save. For those that have extra, you can use the storage bags and freeze some for later. Just make sure to use the oldest ones first. Here is my post about All Things Breastfeeding.
5) Items to prep/purchase
As the day draws near for when you transition back to work, you will need to start prepping everything. You will want to make sure you have clothes you feel comfortable in but are still work appropriate. Some things to buy will be a breast pump, bottles, bottle bag, nursing pads, ice pack, milk storage bags, a bottle brush, baby dish soap and a drying rack for bottles.
If you hire a nanny, you might want to get an extra car seat for her car so you don’t have to keep moving yours. This way she can go to the park or maybe run an errand and not be stuck inside all day. If your baby is going to daycare then you will want to make sure you have extra outfits to send with them. Stick to the soft cotton clothes that are easy for diaper changes and comfortable for baby. Everything will come home stained and messy so don’t send those adorable outfits you use for pictures. A swaddler or sleep sack is great for naps because they should not have anything else in a crib as an infant but the rooms can get cold sometimes. You will also need to send extra diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream.
Here are some of my product recommendations:
6) Trial Run
If possible, try to do a full day trial with your Nanny/daycare before your maternity leave ends, so that if there are any issues you will be available. You don’t want to get a call a few hours into your first day at work, saying there is an issue. This is also an opportunity to bring everything your baby will need to daycare so you don’t have to bring it on your first day. It is also a great way for you to get used to not being around your baby during the day and to get used to pumping (ideally every three hours).
My blogging friend, Seng, gives some additional advice here about returning to work after maternity leave.
7) Time to go
The night before you go back to work after maternity leave, you will want to make sure everything is ready to go. You will want to make sure your outfit is ready, bottles are packed, clothes and other baby items are ready, and you have everything for your pump bag. Try to get a good night’s rest the night before. When I went back to work with my first baby, I started showering the night before. It was too hard to try to shower in the morning since my baby was not a good sleeper and he didn’t want to hang out while I showered. Plan for some extra time in the morning so you are not stressing. Bring an extra shirt to work for yourself in case you accidentally leak if you are breastfeeding.
You will want to build a good routine for yourself. For some tips on how to prioritize and plan, see my post here.
For those that are wanting some advice on resumes, interviewing and job searching so you can return to the workforce, see this post.