Motherhood is an incredible journey filled with joy, love, and countless precious moments. However, the transition from maternity leave back to work can present its own set of challenges and adjustments.
In this article, we will explore common hurdles that new moms face when returning to work and provide a helpful checklist to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your child.
Help Your Baby Adjust to Bottle Feeding:
A common concern for many breastfeeding moms is ensuring their baby is comfortable with bottle feeding. Gradual introduction to the bottle, ideally several weeks before returning to work, is crucial.
Action Tip: Start by incorporating one bottle feeding per day to familiarize your baby. Involving the caregiver in the feeding process can foster bonding and familiarity with the bottle, making the transition easier for both of you.
Don't forget about you & be kind to yourself
It’s common for new moms to put their own needs on the back burner. However, self-care is essential for your well-being and ability to be the best mother you can be. Make time for exercise, quality time with loved ones, and activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Connecting with someone or something you love every single day will help keep your mood positive and happier. Remember, taking care of yourself positively impacts your ability to handle the challenges of returning to work.
Action Tip: Incorporate at least one item of self-care in your everyday routine. It could be a short walk outdoors with your partner every morning or a short call/coffee with your friends on some days. However busy your day might be, adding just that single action item for a 15 minute duration, but doing it consistently, could make a world of difference.
Embrace Your Emotions
Returning to work after having a baby is a significant milestone. Recognize that as a new mother returning to work, it’s common to experience a wide range of emotions. Allow yourself the space to acknowledge and process these feelings without judgment. It’s important to be compassionate and patient with yourself as you navigate this transition. It’s perfectly natural to feel a mix of joy, sadness, guilt, or anxiety. Remember that you are doing your best and adjusting takes time. Embrace the journey and grant yourself permission to navigate through these emotions at your own pace. Don’t hesitate to seek support from your partner, friends, and other moms who understand the journey you’re on. Remember, you are not alone, and there is strength and growth in every step you take.
Action tip: When you are feeling down, speak to yourself like you would to a dear friend. What would you say to your friend if she were going through what you are dealing with right now? What help and support would you provide her? This might prompt you to be kinder to yourself.
Consider your schedule
When planning your return to work, take into account your schedule and your baby’s needs. If possible, consider working fewer hours or gradually increasing the number of days you work to allow both you and your baby to adjust smoothly. For breastfeeding mothers, try adjusting your work hours to align with lactation and pumping sessions.
Action tip: A week or two before you are due to return to work, work out what the first day at work might look like, and then the first week and the first month. Add things gradually. Ensure you leave time in there for the new changes in your life. Once you have this transition plan in place, consider how you can activate it – what accommodations would you need in terms of flexibility, who would you need to engage with to put this in action, whose support would you need as you go through it? Communicate and get buy-in and support before you even start back. You will find this will make your road much smoother.
Conduct practice runs
Before officially returning to work, conduct some practice runs by asking a trusted family member or friend to care for your baby for a few hours. This simulates your workday, helps identify any challenges, allows your baby to become familiar with the caregiver, and provides reassurance that they will be well taken care of.
Action tip: After this practice run, go back to your transition plan and rejig as necessary.
Open Communication with Your Boss
Maintaining open and honest communication with your boss is essential. Clearly express your needs and expectations, including discussing options for flexibility such as remote work or adjusted schedules. By fostering open dialogue, you can create a supportive working environment that accommodates your return to the workforce.
Action Tip: Set up a meeting with your boss as you are creating your transition plan a couple of weeks before you are due to start. Go into the meeting prepared with the key items you want to address.
Set expectations with colleagues
In addition to communicating with your boss, communicate any changes in your availability or return date to your colleagues. Transparency minimizes misunderstandings and ensures a smooth reintegration into the team.
Action Tip: Set up to meet your colleagues for lunch or coffee on one of your practice runs.
Remember that you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Seek support from other moms who have experienced similar challenges. Look at who is part of your postnatal support group and how they can help in this phase. Joining support groups and online communities provides a valuable space to share concerns, seek advice, and gain insights from those who have gone through the same journey.
Action Tip: Reach out to the new moms in your workplace. They will have a lot of advice and support for you.
Prioritise Quality Time
Once you’re back at work, make the most of the time you spend with your child. Be intentional in creating meaningful moments together, whether it’s through play, reading, or simply cuddling. These moments are precious and strengthen the bond between you and your child.
Action Tip: Find at least 1 activity that you and baby can do together. It could be reading to your baby or giving the baby her pre-sleep bath. And block time for it in your calendar. Leave your phone and any other possible disturbances outside and ensure you take a couple of moments first to really leave your day’s cares behind.
Advocate for flexibility
Flexibility is key when balancing work and motherhood. If your original employment contract doesn’t meet your needs, don’t hesitate to ask for adjustments. Request flexible working hours or explore remote work options that can better align with your responsibilities at home and at work. By advocating for flexibility, you can create a more manageable and fulfilling work-life balance.
Action Tip: Reach out to your peer network of new moms and new parents both in your own workplace and in other companies. This will give you a picture of what arrangements have been negotiated successfully. You can use these examples to bolster your case
Have a reliable backup child care plan
Having a reliable backup childcare plan is crucial for unexpected situations or emergencies. Research local nurseries, find trustworthy babysitters, or consider involving family members or close friends who can step in when needed. Having a backup plan in place provides peace of mind and ensures that your child is well-cared for in any circumstance.
Action Tip: Have a backup in place for various kinds of situations. The backup for a few hours might be different from what you have if you need a few days of alternate childcare solution.
Prep for Pumping
If you plan to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, it’s essential to prepare for pumping. Invest in a quality breast pump and familiarize yourself with the process. Look for a comfortable and private space at your workplace where you can express milk and safely store it. Discuss your pumping needs with your employer and ensure necessary accommodations are in place to support your breastfeeding journey.
Action Tip: Block out 15-20 minute pumping slots in your calendar so that these slots are not taken over by unexpected meetings.
Prioritize and Delegate
As a new mom, your plate may feel full with responsibilities both at home and work. Effectively managing your time requires prioritization. Focus on the most important and urgent tasks first and consider delegating or eliminating less critical tasks if possible. By prioritizing effectively, you can regain a sense of control and reduce unnecessary stress. Delegate both at home and at work.
Action Tip: Do this a week before you go back to work and review again a week after you are back. List all the tasks that fill your day at home and at work. Mark those that can be eliminated and/or delegated. Now eliminate/delegate. Prioritize the other tasks and keep the prioritized list in view. Now you know which tasks you need to focus on the most.
Streamline your daily life
To make the transition smoother, simplify your daily routine as much as possible. By reducing decision-making and eliminating unnecessary stressors, you can focus on getting back to work while ensuring your baby’s needs are met.
Action Tip: Prepare meals and snacks in advance, organize your baby’s essentials, and lay out your clothes the night before.
Returning to work as a new mom is undoubtedly a significant life transition. By following these tips and utilizing the provided checklist, you can approach this phase with confidence and ease. Remember to prioritize self-care, seek support from your community, communicate openly with your employer and colleagues, and create meaningful moments with your child. Embrace the beauty of motherhood while nurturing your career, knowing that you have the strength and resilience to thrive in both roles. You’re not alone, and the journey ahead is full of possibilities and growth. You’ve got this!
If you’re looking for more guidance and support throughout your pregnancy and postpartum journey, be sure to check out Veira Life. From pregnancy to postpartum and as your transition back to work, our website offers many resources to help you succeed as a new mom. Veira Life is here to support you every step of the way.
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