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Making the Transition Back to Work After Baby

Updated: Feb 1


Mom returning to work after baby
Mom returning to work after baby

The first several weeks of a newborn’s life are crucial. It is during this precious time that bonds are formed between baby and parents, routines are established, and the birthmother heals from the physical trauma of childbirth. Unfortunately, for working parents, this time at home is all too short. On average, new parents only get 10 to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. For most new parents, returning to work is an unavoidable reality. According to a 2023 report by the US Department of Labor, in 2022 67.9 percent of mothers and 94.45 percent of fathers with children under the age of six were employed.


Returning to work after welcoming a baby into your life is not without challenges. While on leave, you’ve had the opportunity to devote much of your time and energy to caring for your newborn. Now you need to relearn how to balance work and home responsibilities. Who will care for the baby while you are working? How is the baby being fed? Can you pump at work? How will you handle being away from your little one for several hours each day?


All these questions can lead to a feeling of stress and anxiety when you think about returning to work. How can you make the transition back to work after having a baby a little smoother? Let’s look at some ways you can prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally.


Preparing Physically

The physical challenges you may face when returning to work are many. Your body has changed, your routine has changed, and your responsibilities have increased. How can you meet these challenges successfully?


Exercise after baby
Exercise after baby

Personal Health

Every woman heals at their own pace. As you prepare to return to work, you may find that you aren’t quite back to your pre-baby self. And that is perfectly ok! Still, depending on the nature of your work, you may need to be physically able to perform certain tasks. Take the time during your leave to strengthen and heal the muscles that have been impacted by your pregnancy and birth experience.

Speak to your doctor about what kind of exercise would be appropriate for you.



learning about breast pump

Breastfeeding

If you have chosen to breastfeed, you likely have concerns about how to continue once you return to work. As soon as you can, find out your company’s policy on pumping. Many companies today provide a

comfortable, private location for lactating moms, but this isn’t the case everywhere. Finding out what you will have available to you ahead of time allows you to prepare in advance.


Plan for how and when you will pump, even blocking that time out on your calendar. In the week leading up to your return to work, make sure you have all the necessary parts for your pumping equipment. Also have a plan for how you will wash everything. Will you be able to wash and dry at work? Or will you need to bring it home to clean? Think about your outfits as well. If your work allows, choose clothing that is looser fitting, comfortable, and pump friendly. Especially important is having comfortable bras that allow for easy pumping. What you wear can make a huge difference in how easy and comfortable pumping is.


Childcare

Making sure you are comfortable with your childcare choice will help you transition back to work with much less anxiety. If you have older children, you may choose to use the same childcare for your newborn as you have for your other kids. However, if you haven’t looked for childcare in a while, you may have concerns about making the right choice. Even before the baby is born, you can start looking at your options. Visit daycare centers and see if youlike the environment. Prepare a list of questions to ask, such as:

 What are their safety and security protocols?

 What is the ratio of children to adults?

 Is there a separate area for babies?


You can ask similar questions if you are interviewing sitters or nannies. Start sending the baby to your chosen childcare a week or two before you return to work. This will help make the transition easier. You can even start with half days and work your way up to the full schedule you’ll need once back at work. Starting childcare before you return to work allows you to get the alone time you need to prepare for the transition.


Preparing Mentally

As a working parent, you juggle a lot of things. You have your responsibilities at work and at home. While on leave, you’ve only had to focus on family responsibilities, but now you are adding back all the work stress. How can you prepare to face the challenge?


Keeping Organized

In the weeks before you return to work, try to establish a routine you can maintain once you are back working. Babies thrive on routine, so making any adjustments before going back to work will help for a smoother transition. Meal planning, setting clothes out and packing bags the night before, as well as having consistent wake up and sleep times will help to make life run smoother as you go back to work.


Maintaining Work/Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy balance between work and life can be a challenge in even the most ideal of circumstances. Once you have kids, you naturally want to give them the love and attention they need. It is important, then, to set boundaries at work. Make sure you express your needs and know how much of yourself you can give to work and how much you need to reserve for your family. Try not to bring work stress home. And cultivate trust with your childcare provider so you can focus on your tasks when at work.


Preparing Emotionally

Preparing emotionally may be the hardest of all. You likely have many conflicting emotions about returning to work. On the one hand, you may be excited about returning and getting back into a more normal feeling routine. On the other hand, you may be feeling stressed and anxious, or even guilty, about leaving your baby to go to work. How can you overcome those feelings?



managing your stress

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Be realistic about what you can handle. Set priorities and schedule your time accordingly. A little preparation in advance can do a lot to reduce stress. If you apply the suggestions you’ve seen here, you

can return to work confident that your little one will be well cared for.


Overcoming Guilt

Babies grow up quickly. Feeling guilty about going back to work is a common emotion. Don’t be afraid to talk to a trusted friend or family member about your worries. Expressing your emotions can help you to manage fears and maintain a balanced view of life. Remember- You are a good parent! You love your child! You want what is best for them and you are working hard to provide what they need. Make a commitment to yourself and to your child to do your best. That’s all anyone can expect of you.


Ask For Help

Having a trusted friend by your side makes any journey more enjoyable and any challenge more endurable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The caring and capable doulas at Tiny Miracles Care are eager to meet you and your family. During your postpartum period, we can help you establish healthy routines, make meals, and get prepared for your eventual return to the workplace. Contact us today!

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