Transitioning Back to Work After Having a Baby
May 06, 2019 12:00PM
by Renee Franklin
Just when you were getting the hang of having a baby at home, it's time to go back to work. Beyond the expected changes such as picking work tasks back up and catching up on things you've missed, your priorities have shifted now that you're a parent.
It's normal for parents to feel anxious about transitioning back to work after having a baby, but they don't have to do it alone. Most new parents have built-in support systems of friends and family, and with careful planning, this big transition can be a smooth one.
As your first day back at work approaches, arrange for childcare and take an afternoon or two away from your baby. This will soften the emotional blow of parting with your little one after weeks of maternal bonding.
Whether you have a stay-at-home partner, family who will be watching the baby, a trusted babysitter or your little one will be at daycare, be sure to make sure childcare is arranged for the week ahead.
Figure Out Feeding
If you are breastfeeding, reach out to a lactation consultant to figure out what you need to do to maintain a steady supply, how to pump at work and adjusting your feeding schedule if needed. Talk with your employer so they know you will be pumping and make sure you have a designated place to do so.
Logistics and Routine
Planning is key to being a working mom with as low-stress levels as possible. Coordinate with your partner or ask a family member or friend to help you meal-prep for your week and pack diaper bags. Figure out when you need to wake up (allow room for error) and how you and your partner can share morning duties to make for a smooth start to the day. You will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.
Choose Childcare Close to Work
Your first instinct might be to choose childcare close to home, but once you return to work, having your baby near your 9-5 is convenient and will give you peace of mind. If you need to stop in at lunch to say hello, snuggle, or in case of an emergency and have to pick up your baby ASAP, you'll be glad you did.
Start Later and Gradually, If Possible
If your workplace will let you ease back into your regular schedule, by all means, DO IT. Returning to work after maternity is exhausting. Go easy on yourself; instead of starting on a Monday and hitting the ground running with a full work week, start on a Wednesday or Thursday. This ensures your first week will be short and sweet, and the weekend will give you time to evaluate what worked and what didn't.
Take Care of Yourself
Two words: Self. Care. Once your life involves child-rearing and your career, self-care is essential to maintaining your health. Just like preparing for your week ahead, coordinate with your partner, a friend or a family member to make sure you have time to exercise, rest and do something just for you, whether it's going to a movie with a friend, taking 20-minutes to read a chapter in a book or just take a nap.