If you are pregnant with your first child and planning to go back to work full-time after your baby is born, you might be dreading the return to work already. The transition back to work after the birth of a baby is a very difficult one for most women. Countless women, however, do make it work. There are some things you can do to help make your transition back to work easier for both you and your baby.
Take as much time off as possible. The Family Medical Leave Act has made it mandatory for employers to allow a new mother (or father) 12 weeks of leave after the birth of a baby. This leave is rarely paid, but your job cannot be taken away from you during this time. If at all possible, take the entire 12 weeks off. The first few months of taking care of a newborn are exhausting. You will be up much of the night caring for your baby. You will be recovering from your labor and delivery, and possibly even surgery if you have a cesarean section. You really need this time to recover. If it is at all financially possible for you and your family, plan ahead of time to take the entire 12 weeks off. You will probably be required to use up all of your sick days and vacation days, but it is worth it. Anything that is going on at your workplace can wait.
Return part time at first. If you choose not to take the entire 12 weeks off, or really even if you do, the best way to return back to work is on a part-time basis for a few weeks. Going back to work just two or three days a week for a couple weeks will allow you to get used to being without your newborn, and will also let you get a feel for how much stamina your exhausted body will have during the work day.
Choose a daycare provider or nanny that you really trust. One of the hardest parts of returning to work for new moms is leaving their baby with a care provider. Being fully confident in the daycare or nanny you choose for your baby is crucial. Ask many, many questions before deciding on a caregiver. Stop by to visit your baby during your lunch break and check in on the activities at the center. Call frequently to see how things are going. If the provider seems annoyed by you checking in so often at first, then you need to find a new caregiver.
Bring pictures with you to work. Your coworkers will be so excited to see pictures of the new baby. Bring plenty of pictures to show off and plenty of pictures to place in your work space. Talking about your newborn to coworkers, and being able to see his gorgeous face whenever you want to, will really help ease your transition.
Do some fun “adult” things at work the first few weeks. When you return to work you will have some positive things to look forward to. You will get to have some adult interaction for one. You can take advantage of getting to go out to eat for lunch without fearing your baby having a total meltdown. You might be able to run out to a clothing or department store during your lunch break and do a little shopping. Take advantage of your time away from your baby and do some of the adult activities that you can’t really do as often now that your baby has arrived.
There is no way to make returning to work for a new mom completely painless. You will miss your baby, worry about her well-being while you are gone, and will have difficulty concentrating on your work. These tips will help to ease your transition back to work, and eventually time will take over and you will be transformed into an incredible full-time working mom.