10 Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity LeaveDianna Graveman | 7, November 2011
Heading back to work after a baby is born can be a stressful and emotional time for an already exhausted new mother. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare in the weeks leading up to your return to the workplace:
1. Consider taking your child to the daycare or sitter you've chosen for a few hours now and then before you return to work. Gradually lengthen the amount of time you spend away from your baby. This will help with the transition for both of you.
2. Stock the refrigerator. Prepare some simple casserole meals in the weeks ahead of your return and freeze them for those nights you will come home and not have the time or energy to cook. Tape an index card with instructions for reheating to the top of the container or wrapper, so whichever parent arrives home first after work can begin meal preparation.
3. Plan your back-to-work wardrobe: You may need some "in between" clothes until you're down to your pre-pregnancy weight. Consider visiting an upscale resale shop, especially if you need business attire or suits that can be costly to purchase new. Once you're back in shape, you won't feel so bad about having spent the money on clothes you only wore for a short while. Keep in mind you'll probably want to avoid clothes that must be dry cleaned in case of spit-ups or other mishaps while you're dressed for work and holding your baby.
4. If possible, work just a few days the first week, or try to set your return date in the middle of the week to keep the first week short. Some organizations have an established "phase-back" policy for returning after maternity leave. Check with your human resources manager about your options. Explore the possibility of returning on a part-time basis, at least temporarily, and work your way up to full-time.
5. If you plan to breastfeed, ask ahead of time about a private, clean area where you can pump during breaks and at lunch time. Place the milk in small freezer bags and label them with the date. You may want to store them in an opaque lunch bag before placing in a community refrigerator; label the lunch bag clearly with your name.
6. Consider buying an electric pump so you can pump both breasts at once. Practice with the pump before returning to work so you are comfortable with it. You may want to adjust your feeding schedule before you go back to work so that you're pumping a few times during the day and nursing before and after your work hours. Ask your spouse or a friend to feed your baby a bottle of breast milk once in awhile to ease the transition.
7. Establish a pleasant evening routine, and try to stick to it. It will lend some normalcy to a busy, trying time. Plan a regular schedule for your baby that includes a warm, sudsy bath, book time, or simply some snuggles while listening to soft music. However, remember that even the best laid plans sometimes go astray. If your relaxing routine is interrupted some evenings, don't fret. Just spend as much quality time with your little one as you can.
8. Pack your bags every night before bed. Make a list and brainstorm with your spouse about anything you will need to include like your breast pump and milk storage supplies, full bottles, diapers, wipes, and extra sleepers or clothes. Then have your bags ready before your head hits the pillow.
9. Keep an online calendar (through Outlook or Google) that you can update from both home and work. If your sitter has to cancel at the last minute, or if your baby gets sick, you will have a consolidated calendar of all family appointments and work deadlines or meetings in one place, and you'll be able to adjust or cancel accordingly.
10. Be confident in your decision. Whether you are returning to work because of finances or because you enjoy the challenges of working outside the home, don't let anyone make you feel guilty. What's important is that you've made the decision you feel is best for you and your family. With some planning, everything else will fall into place.
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