What other time in your life can you describe as magical and insane other than maternity leave? As a new mom 5 years ago I just couldn’t believe how ROCKED to the core I felt. I had gone through a profound change of my identity, change in energy from lack of sleep, physical change (stretch marks galore) and the list went on. Everything has turned upside down since my baby girl crash-landed in our lives. But yet in those moments when breastfeeding was actually going well or my darling was innocently napping, that chaotic time known as full time baby bonding was indeed magically wonderful.
But when I returned to work and made all the classic mistakes that new moms make I found myself crying in my cubical the second day back at work. And during my ugly cry on the 15 North I realized that there needs to be a resource for moms to go off maternity leave and help them gracefully transition to the working mom lifestyle.
From my “HOT MESS” era, as I call it, I researched, collaborated with Lactation Consultants, Doulas, lawyers and more to get a Return-To-Work game plan for moms! I like to call it the “The B’s of Preparing to going back to work after Maternity Leave.”
The first B is Baby. How do set up your lovely baby for success when you inevitably need to leave them with a competent childcare provider? Here are the top things you need to prepare while still on leave for your baby to thrive!
- If baby is a healthy weight and breastfeeding is established, pump one side in the morning at approximately one month post birth. Freeze and label expressed milk with date and ounces. Be sure to follow these milk storage guidelines.
- Understand your budget with your partner and start to explore childcare options that is the right fit for your family.
- Introduce a pacifier after one month of age. There are pros and cons. If you feel it’s right for your child this will help to know when and how to introduce it.
- Practice being away. This is the hardest emotionally but think of it as a skill that you and baby need to learn. Baby will learn that mommy always comes back. You will learn that a bit of time a way is actually good for your emotional and physical wellbeing. And hey, you might get a pedicure out of the deal.
- Introduce a bottle one time a day to baby about one month before going back. These are some great tips on how to introduce a bottle to a breastfed baby.
- Practice childcare one week before returning to work to gradually increase the time apart from baby and also to get back physically comfortable with the surroundings and care providers. Here is a good guidelines for what to pack and what not to pack for daycare.
- Rally your tribe of supportive mom friends who will allow you to cry laugh, complain or rejoice when you head back to work. You need to prepare your mind and your heart for the transition and a supportive network will help you get there.
Next up is how to ask your boss about a pump room without cringing and other ways you need to prepare your boss for your return from maternity leave.