Returning to work after your baby is born can be one of the hardest things to do—even if you really want to go back! There are many things to consider when returning to work. How much will it cost you to pay for child care? Will you job cover that cost? If so, you then have to consider who will watch your baby and where. If you are breastfeeding you also need to speak to your work about when and where you will be able to pump.
Before your first day back it is a good idea to work out the logistics of what returning to work will look like. Will you need to leave earlier to drop off the baby? That means you will also need to pack everything the baby needs for the day too, including milk. Will someone be coming to your home to watch the baby? You may need to have things organized clearly and meet with the nanny before you go back to work to make sure they are familiar with where everything is and how to care for your baby. Wherever you baby ends up being, make sure you ask the caregiver to send you picture and video updates throughout the day! This can be a huge emotional booster if you are feeling down at work, and can help you get through those pumping sessions.
You may also need to pump while at work which means bringing your pump, all the parts, storage bags, and possibly an ice chest and ice. If you do have to pump at work it can be helpful to have a second pump, or at least spare parts for your pump, so you always have a clean set packed and ready to go. If you work close enough to where your baby will be watched during the day, it may be worth talking to your work about being allowed to go to your baby to feed him/her rather than finding somewhere to pump and dealing with the setup and cleanup of a pumping session—this can actually save time if your baby is within 15 minutes of your work.
Speaking of pumping, you will want to begin pumping for your first day back at work about 2 weeks before your first day back. Add just 1-2 pumping sessions in each day and this should get you enough milk stored up for your first day back at work—then what you pump on the first day back at work will cover your second day back at work, and so forth.
A few days before you actually go back to work take a day or two, or even a week, and have a trial run with your childcare. This allows you to work out the kinks of your new routine without the stress of having to be at work while figuring it all out. Remember you now have to get you and your baby ready before work, so allow yourself some extra time in the morning than you needed before your baby. If your baby will be at a daycare, you don’t even have to stay out of your house. You can drop them off, then come home and relax, or clean, or take a nap! Taking these few days allows you to process your emotions of being away from your baby without them distracting you at work.
If possible start back part-time. If you have some leave you can use to take one day off each week it can shorten your weeks for the first month making the adjustment easier. If you can’t go back to a part-time schedule initially, try starting back on a short week—see if your first day back can be a Wednesday or Thursday instead of a Monday. Another alternative to consider if you can’t do part-time is to see if you can telecommute 1-2 days a week at first, if your job has this as an option.
You will need even more sleep now that you are going back to work than you needed before. So even though you may want that break in the evening after the baby is in bed to decompress the day, it is a good idea to be in bed by 9pm to make sure you get enough rest. This is especially important if your baby is not sleeping through the night.
All of that is just the logistics of returning to work, what about the emotions? You may not want to leave your baby, but need the second income. You may be glad to have someone else care for your baby and get a break each day. You may also be anxious about leaving your baby, even if you are happy to be going back to work. And with all the emotions you may also feel guilt. Guilt about leaving you baby, guilt about enjoying the break, guilt about lots of things.
Don’t let your anxiety show at work, if you need to vent about the stress of leaving your baby at daycare vent to your mom friends, not your coworkers. You don’t want your boss to think you aren’t able to focus on work.
The first days, weeks, or months back at work are going to be hard. But if you have a plan and support you are going to get through it and you and your baby are both going to be ok!
Be patient with yourself, it takes time to adjust.
How old was your baby when you returned to work?
Next I will be blogging on the letter K… K is for Kegels.