Top 10 Tips for Heading Back to Work After a Baby

working mother holding baby researching doulas

It can be hard to imagine while pregnant, but there will come a time when you are no longer pregnant. Your little one will be here! And then for many of my clients, there will come a time after that, when you’ll be going back to work after having a baby.

Like most of early parenting, the end of maternity leave or parental leave comes with changes, for you and baby. So here are 10 tips to make your transition back to work a bit easier:

1. If you can choose when to go back to work, make it a short work week.

If you normally work Monday-Friday, then going in on a Wednesday or Thursday gives you just 2-3 days away from home. You’re allowed to still be gentle with yourself, and easing into the routine can be good.

2. Expect to be a little emotional.

Tears are normal- yours and baby’s. And if you’ve not yet spent a day away from your infant, you might find yourself checking your phone constantly, or calling their caretaker to make sure everything is okay. OR, you might be ecstatic to have adult company again.

Big feelings, no matter what they are, are okay.

3. Know that you can still bond with your baby.

If any of those feelings stem from “mom guilt”, take a deep breathe and let it go. (And that goes for any other guilty parent!)

To be attached, babies need to know that they are loved and cared for. They need to know that you will be responsive to their needs.

For many of us, a part of meeting our baby’s needs is working to provide for them. You’re doing great.

4. You might also be feeling a big feeling of overwhelm.

Whether it’s from all the work you have, a coworker saying “you’re back at work?” (which, duh) and chatting endlessly, or not being in a good sleeping pattern yet, you might feel like you’re juggling a lot. Think of yourself as a superhero. Or Beyonce. You can get through this- you’re good at doing hard things!

5. If you’re planning to pump breastmilk, go electric.

The manual pumps are cheaper, yes. But you’ll probably want the convenience and effectiveness of an electric pump- it’s just one less thing to think about. And while we’re talking about pumping, here is a very thorough list of things to bring with you in your breast pump bag.

6. Trust your childcare.

As much as possible, remember that you’ve put your child in the hands of someone who is competent and capable. It’s good to discuss things like feeding and schedules with them ahead of time, and check in on how things are going.  Then, know that you made a good decision, and they will keep your little one safe and cared for.

7. Know that evenings and nights might be a time for adjustment.

If you’re breastfeeding, your time at home might become a time when your baby feeds more, particularly for comfort and connection. This is normal and can be a beautiful opportunity to bond. You also may find, as your baby gets older, that you want to intentionally shape their sleep so that you all get more rest. Again, completely normal.

Find what works for you at night, and remember, you have resources to get more sleep. Let me know if you need help.  

8. Consider a trial run.

This is a lot to manage, right? It can be helpful to take it in chunks. Introducing a bottle and figuring out your breast pump, finding your childcare, and scheduling your transition back can be done over time. And if you can do a sort of trial run of the daycare drop off and being away from the baby, that can be helpful. The goal is to ease into this new normal.

9. Talk about things with your support system.

Remember those big feelings and the juggling? You don’t have to do this alone. Your family members, your partners, and even a postpartum doula can help with all of this.

10. Treat yourself.

Once you’ve made it through the day (or even just until lunch), do something nice for yourself. A fancy coffee, a scoop of ice cream or manicure sound great! You’ve definitely earned it.

As a postpartum doula, I’m happy to help you with going back to work. If you have any questions, let me know!

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