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When Little E was about 3 months old, I returned to work for the first time. I was blessed enough that I didn’t have to work full-time, but we still needed a bit more income so I found myself
I wasn’t sure how I would handle it emotionally, or physically for that matter! Would I be able to pump enough while I was at work? Would the baby have enough milk at home? What if he was inconsolable? Would the caregiver be able to put him down for a nap? Would I be able to keep from crying throughout the whole day? What if there was an emergency and I couldn’t answer my phone?
Mom worries and questions galore!
When my mind gets this way, I need to do some research to help answer some of my questions. Of course, the internet can provide both reassurances and create even more questions/fears. I wanted to create for other mommas who are returning to work one resource that answers many of the questions that were pressing at my mind when I had to start working again:
- How can I feel comfortable leaving my baby with another person?
- How will baby handle this emotionally? Will he be inconsolable?
- What about milk – both milk for baby and pumping at work?
- How will I handle this emotionally? Is there anything that will make it easier?
- How will this affect my relationship with my baby?
Leaving Baby with a Caregiver
The most important advice I can give you is to really find a caregiver that you are comfortable with. Without this, the transition back to working will be very difficult.
By comfortable, I mean a person that you trust. While this may seem obvious, I find that many mommas feel that they have to settle for something less. Whether they worry about distance, or just don’t feel like they have the time or the money, they end up settling with a caregiver that is “good enough.” Now, let me make myself clear – there is a 99% chance you will never find a caregiver that you trust as much as yourself (at least if you’re like me).
For me, a lot of my emotions about leaving Little E with someone else came from a lot of “what if’s.” What if he won’t stop crying? What if he kicks his boots and
In order to combat these worries, it was important that I took the time to truly find a caregiver I could trust. Whether you are looking at a facility, a caregiver who comes to you, or a caregiver who works out of their own home, it’s essential to know the questions to ask them.
Make a list of the biggest questions that worry you. For me, I wanted to know their plan of action in case Little E was inconsolable. Would they just let him cry it out? Would they try to distract him? I also included questions like, “What would you do if he was getting into something he shouldn’t be into?” “How would you help him fall asleep?” “What activities would you do with him to help his developmental growth?”
Take the time to truly research your caregiver or facility, so you can feel as comfortable as possible when you leave your baby with them on that first day. Look into reviews, talk with them over the phone, and meet with them in person. Don’t be afraid to ask all your questions! You are leaving your sweet baby with them…it’s okay to seem over-protective!
It also really helped me to have very open communication with my caregiver. Getting a detailed report, especially those first few times, helped me feel more and more comfortable each time I had to leave Little E in their care.
One of my biggest worries was how Little E would handle me being gone. We had only left him with my mom twice before, and both times he had really struggled with separation anxiety. I wanted to know some things I could do to help him adjust before I started working agai.
First, one of the best things you can do to help your baby is to have them get to know the caregiver, if possible. Have the caregiver come over once or twice while you there with them, so that he or she is a familiar face to your baby. If daycare is the way you go, arrange some extra time that first morning to help your baby adjust to the faces and the location.
Second, you can provide some things for your baby to make the transition a little easier. For many young babies, the familiar scent of Momma can be very reassuring. Sleep with your baby’s blanket for a few nights before the first day you will be leaving them in someone else’s care. The blanket will pick up your scent and provide a source of comfort to baby while you are away.
If baby will be in a different location, such as a caregiver’s home or a daycare, provide her with a few familiar objects. For example, Little E has a lovey that he is used to cuddling with during breastfeeding and naps. There are so many reasons I love having a lovey! Check out why here.Having these belongings can provide some familiarity to an otherwise unfamiliar situation.
Finally, remember that open communication is key. Provide your caregiver with some personal information regarding your little one. Each baby is unique, and it is helpful for the caregiver to know unique things about your baby. For example, Little E really enjoys being swayed back and forth. My niece, on the other hand, loves a quite vigorous bottom pat. These little personal tricks are things that can really help your caregiver when it comes to knowing how to best care for your little one.
Breastfeeding and Returning to Work
Another concern that occupied many of my motherly worries was in regard to breastfeeding. How much milk would he need? Would I be able to pump enough of a supply for him? And what about pumping at work? Would I be able to have enough time and privacy?
In regards to a supply for baby while you are gone, I encourage you to start stocking up a supply earlier than you think you need to.
One of the most emotional mornings for me after I started working was in response to not having enough milk. The night before, I decided that I could pump at least 4 more ounces in the morning. After all, I reasoned, I had read that most moms produce the most milk early in the morning! The next morning, I could barely get one ounce out of both breasts. This lead to a very emotional breakdown. On top of feeling sad that I had to leave my baby in the first place, now I couldn’t even provide him with the breastmilk he needed?!
Needless to say, this is not an emotional ride you want to journey on. To prevent it, do your best to stock up a supply plenty in advance. This way, regardless of an unsuccessful pumping day here or there, you will have enough breastmilk to keep baby happy while you are at work.
Pumping at work looks different for different mommas, depending on your workplace.
The most important thing to know is that, in most cases, your work must legally allow you to pump. Laws vary from state to state, but there is also a federal law that states that any employee who is eligible for overtime pay is also eligible for reasonable break time and private (non-bathroom!) space for pumping. Check out this AWESOME resource at abetterbalance.org to check pumping laws by state!
It’s also essential to make sure you have everything you need! The following items have been great for me since I’ve started working:
- Ameda pump with cord, batteries, and all it’s parts (plus a few spares just in case!) (*Note: I got mine through my insurance. Be sure to check with yours!)
- Medela pump ’n’ save bags: pump directly into the bag for easy storage. Plus these bags have an easy pour spout!
- Ameda tote: For holding all my pumping supplies. It’s also insulated to keep my milk cold on the way home! It comes with the pump. (see above)
- Packit freezable lunch bag: In the event that I don’t have access to a refrigerator, it’s great to have this lunch bag that doubles as its own ice pack!
- A picture of your little one, or even a video. This can help your milk production while pumping away from your sweet baby.
Handling your own emotions when going back to work while baby is young is also an important consideration.
There are several things that were helpful for me in handling the adjustment.
One of the most effective tools for me in dealing with my own momma emotions was keeping my end goal in mind. For me, I was working so that we could save money and get to a financial place where I could be a
Another help was having some pictures and videos on my phone. This may or may not be helpful for you. In fact, the first few days I returned to work I actually preferred not to look at my photos…they seemed to simply remind me of his absence. However, after a while of working again, I would find myself really cheered up by a photo or a video of my cutie.
Finally, find the joy in those things you can do when your baby is absent. For instance, the ability to drink a piping hot cup of tea in the quiet of recess time was a true joy that would have been all but impossible had I been at home with my little one. While I would, of course, take time with my baby over hot tea any day, focusing on these small joys was helpful for my returning-to-work journey.
The Momma-Baby Relationship
One worry about returning to work that affects every mom is how it will affect their relationship with their little one. Will things be the same between us when we aren’t together every hour of the day? Will my baby’s attachment be affected by my return to work?
The truth is, your relationship will change. The relationship between you and your child will be constantly changing as things in your life change. But your relationship will always be constant. It’s one of those tensions of life…change and constancy. They can go together, and they often do. Things will be different once you return to work, but it doesn’t have to be worse or less than it was before.
Once you start working again, intentionality becomes key. Continue being intentionally present with your baby whenever you are together. This intentionality is a sweet gift to you and your baby.
Going back to work can be a frightening change for new mommas (the first time or the fifth time!). But know that you are not alone! Do your research, get prepared and keep your end goal in mind, and you will do great! You got this momma!
Come back next week for a helpful resource to use when preparing to leave your little one with a caregiver!
What helped you in your transition back to working after a new baby? Share below!
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