Your guide to going back to work after maternity leave

Returning to work after maternity leave can be full of conflicting feelings. You’re sad to leave baby, but you’re looking forward to interacting with other humans for a change. The transition can be scary, but with a little planning, you and your family will be able to adjust to your new normal. 

Find childcare you're comfortable with

If your return to work means having to find childcare, do plenty of research before it’s time to go back to the office. Whether you’re looking for a daycare, a nanny, or a family member to take over, check out our childcare collection full of articles that will keep you informed of the pros and cons of each. Finding great care that you trust will help take the sting out of having to leave baby.

Once you’ve settled on a plan that works for you, start to phase this into baby’s schedule at least a week before you leave. You can use this time to do everything you need to do to get organized for work (a fresh hair cut or manicure, anyone?). This also provides you a trial run so you know how long it takes to commute to daycare or how much time you have until the nanny arrives. 

Reach out to your boss

You want to go back to work feeling like you understand exactly how this transition is going to go. Reach out to HR at least two weeks before your arrival and confirm they are ready for you. Ask them about their pumping policy and try to secure a private space that can be used for you. It’s also worth reaching out to your boss and ask what you can expect during your first week back.

If possible, try asking to start your work in the middle of the week, like Wednesday or Thursday. This will allow you to gradually get back into the swing of things without staring down the whole week on a Monday morning. You should also check in their work from home policy to see if you can spend a few days at home for the first few weeks. 

Get organized

Lay out all of the clothes you’d like to wear for the first week. This will make your mornings organized so you can spend more time making sure baby is taken care of.  Try to go to the grocery store a few days before you start so your kitchen will be stocked with everything you need for the week. If you can, cook your lunches and prepare your snacks ahead of time so you can simply pack them up and go. Check out our list of healthy on-the-go snack ideas that will keep your energy pumped up throughout the day. If you’re looking to pack your own lactation cookies, try our favorite recipes. 

Pack your bag wisely

You’ll want to make sure you’ve packed your bag properly for your return. Here’s a checklist:

  • Breast pump
  • Bottles
  • Extra nursing pads
  • Lunch bag (to store bottles in the communal refrigerator if you don’t have a mini-fridge available)
  • Healthy snacks
  • Water bottle 
  • Extra shirt (in case of leakage)

Prepare your emotions

Leaving baby for 9 hours a day won’t be easy and you may find yourself experiencing symptoms of separating anxiety. This is normal! Ask your childcare professional or family member to upload photos to the Tinybeans album every day so you can look at photos of baby during work breaks. 

Don't be hard on yourself

Going back to work is yet another major transition you’ll go through, so you may find yourself feeling like you can’t handle it or you’re not as good as you used to be. Although you can perform your duties, you’re learning how to do them as a working mom, which is something new for you. Take breaks as needed, call a loved one if the stress gets the best of you, and remember that this transition is not permanent and you’ll be back to feeling like your old self in no time. 

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