Going back to work after having a baby is never easy, but I feel like it’s even harder when you aren’t quite into a rhythm yet and you have to make another huge adjustment. Then come the questions like what you’re going to do for feeding/pumping, who will take care of baby during the week, do you have a backup plan, what do you do it baby is sick, etc. Having gone back to work both times after having my babies, I’ve learned some things and have some methods for making the transition easier.
My job in Utah where we had Reagan was pretty strenuous–the shifts were 8-12 hours long starting at 5am and I was always busy. Reagan decided she wasn’t going to take a bottle so Jared had to drive her to my work 4-5 times so I could step out and breastfeed her. When I did pump, the designated room was in a completely different area of the hospital and I’d have to leave my work station for 30 minutes each time. The early hours made sleepless nights even worse, and Jared was working graveyard shifts and going to school full time so parenting was extra hard for him when I was gone.
My job here in Texas after having Elliott is much different. I work the same 4 hour evening shift, Monday through Friday, after Jared is home from work so our routine is the same every day. Jared only has to parent for a couple of hours before bed time, and even if Elliott doesn’t take a bottle while I’m gone she’s only going a few hours between feedings. My boss is amazing (he doesn’t read my blog, but really he’s the best), and I know that in case of an emergency he will cover for me. Obviously this is a much more ideal situation than the first one, but going back to work still wasn’t super awesome.
So having gone through both situations, here is what I’ve learned makes it easier and things you should always be prepared for when going back to work post baby!
- Have pumping accommodations arranged before you go back to work
Email your boss or HR rep to find out where and when you can pump in private throughout the day. Inform them of how many times you will need to step away, and make sure they honor your rights to do that. Ask for a note from your OB just in case anyone tries to prevent you from being able to pump during work. Make sure the room is private, with either a lock or a privacy curtain, a power source, and preferably a sink!
- Start baby on a bottle early!
Our lactation consultant said to start on a bottle around 2 weeks or whenever baby has established a good latch. If taking a bottle is difficult, try a few different brands or nipples to find one that works best for your baby. My favorites are this one from Evenflo and this one from Tommee Tippee. I know Dr. Brown’s bottles are great for reducing gas too!
- Do a trial run
Before you officially go back to work, do a trial run (or two) with the person who will be watching baby for you! Go through the schedule together, have that person practice feeding, burping, and putting baby down for naps. I think this is a good chance for baby to be introduced to a new environment if they won’t be at your house while you’re at work too!
- Have a backup sitter plan
Have one or two people you can call to fill in if your sitter has an emergency or gets sick, and talk to your boss about moving your hours around if needed! Hopefully your supervisor will be more willing to accommodate if you give them a heads up that this is a possibility.
- Grace, Grace, Grace
Go into this with the understanding that eventually, something will not go as planned, and give yourself grace when that happens. If you’re going back to work full time, it might be hard to miss the everyday moments and milestones so ask your sitter to send you pictures throughout the day. Ignore the comments from other people about whether or not you’re doing what is in baby’s best interests, and trust your instincts because YOU are mom. Know that whatever you are doing is the right thing for you and your family, and you’re a better mom because of it!