Returning to work after giving birth—some new moms dread it, others can't wait for the day to arrive. Either way, it has to happen sometime. After all, a career waits for no one, and bills must be paid.
Whether you are in the process of returning to work now or simply planning for it in advance, you likely have a number of thoughts, questions, and emotions about the process. For many moms, this is a difficult time both emotionally and physically, and whether or not they wanted to return to work, they find themselves suffering as they transition back to the daily grind.
Fortunately, you can alleviate some of the stress that comes along with returning to work. Wondering what you can do? Try the tips and tricks below.
Trust Your Caregiver
Before all else, you will need to find a caregiver you trust completely. Without doing this, you will have a very hard time coming to terms with the fact that you are headed back to work. Therefore, it is highly important that you interview numerous caregivers, check references, and follow your gut.
Chat With Your Boss (breastfeeding, expectations)
Before it’s time for you to return to work, schedule a time to chat with your boss. Go over your job duties so you know exactly what is expected of you. This is also the time to discuss breaks for pumping should you plan to breastfeed. Be sure to ask how often you will be allowed to break and where you will need to go to pump. Oklahoma law says that Oklahoma breastfeeding mothers may use unpaid break and meal times to breastfeed or express breast milk at work and that Employers shall provide reasonable break time and a private place for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year.
Pack a Bag
If you will be pumping at work, you will need to pack supplies. By packing this bag the night before, you can avoid adding one more task to your morning to-do list. The bag should contain a breast pump, bags to hold pumped milk, nipple cream, nursing pads, a worn outfit from baby or a photo (your baby's smell or picture will help with letdown), healthy and energizing snacks, a refillable water bottle, and an extra shirt just in case something goes wrong.
Adjust Your Schedule and Give Yourself Wiggle Room
About a week before you return to work, start setting an alarm to wake you when you will need to get up for work. This will help your body become accustomed to the new schedule.
You will also want to leave yourself plenty of wiggle room in your schedule. This means going to bed a bit earlier than you might normally to ensure you get enough rest despite nighttime feedings. It also means setting the alarm an hour earlier than you might otherwise, just to leave room for unexpected delays caused by the new addition to your life.
Check in on Baby
Once you do return to work, you will probably find yourself constantly thinking about your precious baby. Calling to check in on the little one, asking for pictures from the sitter, or even stopping by to see your baby can all help relieve some of the separation anxiety you may be experiencing.
Practice Self Care
Working while caring for a new baby is tough. Many women forget that while taking care of their baby and their work is important, self care is also crucial. Don’t be one of those women. Instead, make sure to stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet, and find time to relax, unwind, and do things you love. This might mean hiring a postpartum doula but it is definitely necessary for your mental health.
You can never have too much support, and those who are going through similar emotions and difficulties offer the best support. Therefore, joining the Thriving Mamas Support Group or the Making It Work Support Group at the Thrive Mama Collective is a great way to remain emotionally sound while juggling work and a new baby. Be sure to check out Thrive Mama Collective's upcoming events page for details.