By: Kris Fedenia, RN, Lactation Consultant
Many new moms are returning to work in the early weeks after the birth of their baby. It can be challenging and exhausting without some support and planning. Here are some ideas to help you reduce stress and manage your return to work.
- If possible, extend your maternity leave. Explore possibilities for going back part-time, job sharing or doing some of your work from home.
- Take good care of yourself during your maternity leave – rest, sleep, eat well and enjoy your new baby. This is a special time for you to get to know each other.
- When planning your return date, ease into your first weeks by returning mid or late week. Consider shortening your days if possible.
- Choose a caregiver for your baby who will respect your wishes when caring for your baby, keep you informed daily and will allow you to drop-in anytime. You may also wish to schedule a couple of trial runs to day care before your official return to work.
- If you are breastfeeding, you can continue to provide breast milk for you baby when you return to work. A few weeks before your return, start pumping breast milk once or twice a day in the morning, between feedings. You may not collect much in the beginning, but pumping will signal your body to produce more milk. You will then be able to collect and freeze some back-up feedings to give to your caregiver.
- When planning to pump at work, talk with your supervisor ahead of time. Agree on a private area to pump and plan to take 3 breaks during the day to pump. Federal law requires employers with more than 50 employees to allow moms to pump or feed their babies in a place other than a bathroom for the first year after baby’s birth.
- Once back to work, nurse your baby exclusively when you are together. Save pumping for when you are away. Your baby will keep your milk supply higher than a pump. Feed frequently, as often as baby needs. Remember that any amount of breast milk you provide for your baby is wonderful!
- Try to simplify your life by enlisting support from your partner, family or friends.
- Try to lower your expectations for household cleanliness and accomplishing other tasks.
- The first year with your new baby passes quickly. Allow yourself time to enjoy your new family!