Posted by: wortix | February 25, 2009

Returning from maternity leave: Tips for working mothers

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Returning to work after maternity leave? Here’s what to do before you go back to work — and how to stay connected once you’re on the job again.

Are you dreading the day your maternity leave ends? Don’t despair. Working mothers face many challenges, but you can prepare for the demands with careful planning.


Before you return to work

While you’re still on maternity leave, set yourself up for a successful return to work.

  • Let go of the guilt. Returning to work often poses emotional conflicts for new mothers. But working outside the home doesn’t make you a bad mother. And it’s OK to look forward to the challenges and interactions of your job. Remind yourself that you’re doing what’s best for you and your family, and then move on.
  • Find dependable child care. Consider local child care providers and facilities or make other arrangements for child care, perhaps even before the baby is born. Look for a safe, stimulating environment and qualified caregivers. Trust your instincts when interviewing potential caregivers.
  • Talk to your boss. Clarify your job duties and schedule so you’ll know what’s expected of you after your maternity leave. You might ask about flexible hours, telecommuting or working part time.

    If you’re planning to continue breast-feeding after returning to work, ask your employer to help you find a private room for pumping. Consider buying or renting an electric breast pump that allows you to pump both breasts at once. If timing is a concern, offer alternatives — pumping during your breaks or working from home to make up for the lost time, for example.

  • Set a return-to-work date. If you can, go back to work late in the week. That’ll make your first week back to work a short one.

Once you’re back at work

When you go back to work, expect ups and downs as you become more adept at managing multiple demands. These tips can help:

  • Get organized. Make a daily to-do list. You might divide the list into tasks for work and tasks for home, or tasks for you and tasks for your partner. Identify what you need to do, what can wait — and what you can skip entirely.
  • Stay connected. Plan a daily phone call to your baby’s caregiver to find out how your baby’s doing. Place a favorite photo of your baby on your desk or in your work area. Set aside time after work to reconnect with your baby.
  • Make backup plans. Know what you’ll do if your baby is sick or your baby’s caregiver is unavailable on a workday — whether it’s taking a sick day yourself or calling a friend or loved one to care for your baby.
  • Honor your commitment to breast-feeding. Bring your breast pump, containers for expressed milk, an insulated bag and ice packs to work. Keep a stash of breast pads and extra blouses handy, in case your breasts leak.

    If you can’t express milk at work, breast-feed your baby or pump just before you go to work and as soon as you return home. You could also pump between feedings on weekends for extra breast milk to be used while you’re working.

  • Seek support. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Accept help from your partner, loved ones and friends. Speak up if you’re feeling guilty, sad or overwhelmed. If you’re having trouble pumping milk at work or nursing your baby at home, contact a lactation consultant from a local hospital or clinic.
  • Nurture your own well-being. Relax in the tub after you put the baby to bed, or unwind with a favorite book or soft music. Cut down on any unnecessary commitments. Pick a reasonable bedtime, and stick with it. On weekends, sleep when your baby sleeps.

Above all, maintain a positive attitude. Tell your baby how excited you are to see him or her at the end of the day. Your baby may not understand your words, but he or she will pick up on your emotions.

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