After my first child was born, it was so hard to go back to work. Unfortunately, I had to cut my maternity leave short. My pregnancy was complicated and I spent the last few weeks of pregnancy on bedrest, which meant my six weeks of maternity leave only lasted about three and a half weeks after my first child was born. It was baptism by fire, trying to get ready to go back to work after he was born, which is what compelled me to put together this ultimate guide for going back to work after baby. Here’s everything you need to know to make that return to the workplace easier.
Get Childcare Established Early Before Heading Back to Work
For me, this was the biggest priority and the biggest concern. Lining up childcare before I went back to work was something that kept me up at night. The person who takes care of your precious bundle will essentially hold your world in their hands. It’s important to have the right fit for you and your family. Start looking before baby is born if at all possible. Get recommendations from friends and family. If possible, see if you have any family or friends who would love to take care of your precious cargo for a couple of weeks while you become accustomed to being away from one another. This allows their little immune systems to build up more and mom to have a bit more peace of mind knowing it’s a trusted person in her inner circle caring for her baby.
Pack a Diaper Bag with Essentials
One of my absolute favorite items is the On the Go Lotta Poop kit. The kit comes with 3 complete diaper changes all packed into a fabric case. The case makes a perfect diaper bag for those first few weeks, and I love to stash an extra On the Go Lotta Poop kits inside. This way I know there are more than enough diaper-changing supplies to make it through my workday. I also make sure I include enough pumped breastmilk and some powdered formula (for emergencies), bottles, pacifiers, a change of clothes, and her favorite toys. Having my diaper bag packed with everything I know my baby needs makes it much easier to know my little one will be well cared for while I am out bringing home the bacon.
Establish a Pumping Routine and Find a Good Location
Before my youngest was born, I had already established I would breastfeed for as long as possible. Returning to work can make it difficult, and a lot of new moms give up on nursing because it’s so inconvenient to have to pump during the workday. However, planning ahead will make it much easier to accomplish. By law, workplaces have to provide moms a clean, safe place to pump. Speak with human resources or ask other moms where that place might be. Find out when other moms tend to use the area so you can schedule accordingly. Set a schedule and stick with it, and this will not only help insure your supply remains intact, but it will make it so much easier to continue nursing, if that’s what you choose to do.
Stock up on Diapers
Be sure you have stashes of diapers in a couple of different sizes. I swear, each one of my children would fit into one size diaper on Friday night. By Saturday morning, they seem to have grown enough that trying to stuff them into their previously well-fitting sized diaper is like trying to squeeze into your pre-pregnancy jeans. Incredibly frustrating, never pretty, and leaves your bottom swinging in the breeze. My favorite brand of diapers is Little Toes. Their diapers are bamboo, hypo-allergenic, and bio-degradable. They are soft, durable, and they can handle a whole lotta poop. I generally have a couple of packs of each size on hand, and that way there are rarely EVER any diaper emergencies. I know when I head back to work, I won’t get a frantic call from my husband or sitter saying we’re almost out of diapers and nobody has time to get them.
If you can, spend some time before going back to work for just YOU. As much as those moments with your brand new bundle of joy are absolutely crucial for bonding, you need to take care of you in order to be able to take better care of baby. For me, taking care of myself means looking my best. I know this sounds absolutely shallow, but when I look good, I feel good. And I’m all about doing everything I can to take advantage of the amazing pregnancy and postpartum hormones that are giving my skin this amazing glow. I’ll let you in on my little secret to make the most of this hormone-fueled glow—SunGlitter Goddess. It’s sun care that is a bronzer and skin-protectant all in one with just a hint of bronze glitter. It helps to perpetuate that pregnancy glow, and makes me look sun-kissed all year long. When you get back to work, people will wonder if you spent a few weeks in the tropics instead of having a baby.
Meet with Your Boss
If you can, take a few moments a week or two before the end of your maternity leave to meet with your boss. Find out if anything has changed while you’ve been away on maternity leave. Any new policies or issues can be touched on so you’re prepared when you return. If possible, this may also be a good time to discuss a more flexible work arrangement if at all possible. Many companies are allowing and encouraging employees to telecommute a couple of days per month. This can be a great way to be able to tackle work projects but from the comfort of your own home. Let’s face it, even 6 weeks after baby arrives, your body and brain need to recover. And for that, there’s no place like home.
Going back to work after your baby is born can be difficult. Having a baby, especially if it’s your first, can cause a dramatic shift in your priorities. You may find you’re having an extremely difficult time cutting the cord, so to speak. If at all possible, see if you can ease back into full-time work. If not, some of these planning tips and tricks will help make your transition back into the work force a smooth one.