Are you heading back to work after maternity leave? Assuming you’ve already got childcare and back up childcare squared away, here are some ways we’ve found to make the transition a little easier.
1. Start making preparations early
Being organized and planning ahead can help make heading back to work a little easier. Starting a month out, let family members or friends give your baby a bottle. You need to feel confident that the feeding process is going smoothly before your official return date.
About two weeks before returning to work, adjust your nursing schedule at home so you’re pumping at least once each day and nursing before and after your upcoming work hours.
2. Stock up
If you are breastfeeding and plan to continue, you’ll need to pump to maintain your milk supply. Starting a month out, begin pumping an extra 2-3 ounces a day and freezing it. This way you’ll get in the habit of pumping and build up a supply. Be sure to label and date the milk before you store it!
Pumping at work can be challenging, but having the right accessories can make it easier. Purchase the products you’ll need, including a good quality breast pump, bottles, breast milk storage bags and extra nursing pads.
3. Talk with your boss
Schedule a meeting with your boss beforehand so you’ll know what’s expected of you after maternity leave. If possible, plan your first day at work for later in the week rather than on a Monday, so your first week back is a short one. Or if your employer allows it, try to work part-time for the first couple of weeks. By slowly easing back into work, you can give you and your baby time to adjust to begin apart and make the return more manageable. It also lets you sort out any kinks in your schedule.
If you plan to continue breast feeding, be sure to speak to your boss about coming up with a pumping schedule that works for both of you. And find out if there is a clean and private location with an outlet for breast pumping.
4. Do some dry runs
Practice your new routine of getting up, getting you and baby ready, and getting out of the house by a certain time. You can use these dry runs to make a trip to your daycare, for a visit or to drop off the diapers and other necessities they might have asked you to provide. Plus, it will help remove some of the stress on your first day back.
5. Skip the Guilt
The first day is the hardest. Be prepared for mixed emotions. It’s normal to miss your baby or feel upset. Some days will be better than others. It can take several weeks to settle into a new routine.
More than 75% of American moms work outside of the home. Returning to work doesn’t make you a bad parent, so don’t think for a moment that you are.