Going Back to Work After Baby: Ensuring a Successful Transition From Maternity Leave
Going back to work after having a baby is hard on everyone. As a mom, you have all kinds of emotions ranging from elation & relief to sadness & guilt. One moment, you are looking forward to going back to work and gaining a sliver of your old self back. The very next moment, you are sobbing uncontrollably on the kitchen floor afraid that your baby will forget about you. To top it off, that is just your own thoughts and feelings, that doesn’t even account for the motherhood peanut gallery who ALWAYS has an opinion. Even well-intentioned friends and family members shoot daggers in your heart with comments like “you are so brave, I could NEVER leave my babies at home with a stranger.” Yea lady, I get it. I’m a horrible person, thanks for the help!
All of my thoughts and fears seemed so silly looking back at it. Both times I went back to work after having a baby were completely and utterly uneventful. My kids lived, no one had any abandonment issues, and I actually enjoyed showering every day and talking to grown-ups. Here are some things that I did that made my transition back into work a little easier on everyone.
Update your Wardrobe
I literally lived in Gap hoodies and maternity leggings for my entire maternity leave. If I put on jeans (probably maternity jeans still at this point), it was for something fancy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wear such chic apparel to my super corporate gig. A few weeks prior to going back to work I ordered a bunch of clothes online and updated my wardrobe. I preferred to do it online as I ordered a ton of stuff in different sizes because your body get all kinds of weird after the baby. I wanted to be able to take my time and drown my sorrows in a bottle of wine if needed (kidding, no wine at this point, but SUPER wanted and needed it!). This also gives you the opportunity to try outfits on with your existing shoes and accessories as well. Having an update wardrobe or at least a few new pieces will give you some confidence that is much needed those first few days back.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum can take a toll on your body. A week before you go back to work after having a baby, schedule a spa day or at the very least a mani/pedi. You totally deserve this pampering, Mama! Like refreshing your wardrobe, it will make you feel so much better about yourself and put a little pep in your step. This is also a great time to practice being away from your little one for an extended period of time, which is super important.
Seriously one of the best things I ever did. I scheduled a “Going Back to Work Consult” with a local Lactation Consultant a few weeks prior to going back. In the visit, she showed me how to use my pump, made sure the parts fit correctly (there are different sizes, never knew that!), taught me about appropriate milk storage and pump cleaning, went over my work schedule and determined the best times for me to pump, etc. I figured out in this visit that I was pumping all wrong and I would have been lost without this visit. Check out the ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) to find an LC near you! Even if they don’t offer a specific program around going back to work, just let them know that is what you are looking to get help with.
Being organized is everything. I over-organized those first few weeks. I not only got my house in order (as much as possible considering I was nursing or changing diapers around the clock). Get your closet and bathroom organized so getting ready in the morning is easier on you. Get all of the baby stuff organized that you need to take to daycare or have ready for the caregiver. Organize your kitchen to get ready for quick meals and cleaning pump parts every night. Whatever you can organize to make your life easier, do it. Your future self will thank you.
Speak with your Employer
I strongly encourage you to stay in communication with your employer leading up to your return from leave. Even a text or email keeping them updated on your return date is super helpful and works wonders in building rapport with your boss. If you are struggling with returning to work, speak with them about it. You may find that they are more than receptive to working with you to find an arrangement that works for both of you. Make sure to talk through things like work schedule, pumping times and accommodations, etc. It’s much better to have these things worked out up front. It’s not a bad idea to know what your rights are before you have this conversation. The Le Leche League is a great resource for laws pertaining to breastfeeding in the workplace.
Ease Into Work
If possible, I strongly encourage you to modify your schedule for the first week back. Not only will it be easier for the baby, but you will be tired! I was exhausted those first weeks back both physically and mentally. The fewer demands you have on yourself, the better. Even if you aren’t able to modify your schedule, try to make it easier on yourself at home. Order carry out when you feel like, let the laundry slide for a bit, etc. Look for anything to give yourself a break.
Be Easy on Yourself
Everyone handles this transition differently. Be easy on yourself for however you take it. For me, I felt bad that I wasn’t as distraught as others said I would be. I missed my babies, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t feel this overwhelming sadness that I thought I would. I actually felt guilty that I didn’t feel so sad. That is okay. If you ARE super upset and have guilt, that is okay too. Regardless of how you feel, you love your babies immensely and want the very best for them. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
What did you do to help make going back to work after maternity leave easier? What struggles did you have? Drop a comment below!
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