Maternity Leave – The Last Weeks
During the last couple of weeks of maternity leave, a mother may feel anxious about returning to work. This is totally understandable. She could be wondering about the changes that could have happened in her absence. She could also doubt her abilities – “Will I be able to handle both my job and my family?” There’s also the most prominent concern out of them all – “How am I possibly going to leave my child?”
How to cope with these feelings? Many moms feel like they’ve “lost” the last couple of weeks of their maternity leave due to being so focused on the future. Instead, try to cherish the time you have with your child and appreciate the break from work. You’ll have enough time to reminisce over the beautiful memories of time spent with your baby once you’re back to your job.
Another emotion you might feel during this time is guilt. Don’t be surprised if some part of you looks forward to going back to work after baby.
If this happens to you, remember that you were a woman before you became a mother. Returning to your job might allow you to take some pleasure in that. It doesn’t mean that you’re a mom who doesn’t care about her kid – there’s nothing to feel guilty about.
Back at Work – The First Week
The very first week back at work can be very stressful and hugely overwhelming. And that’s a normal thing – every transition needs some adjustment.
The flood of conflicting emotions can be truly staggering. Some of these include working mom guilt and separation anxiety. Another common emotion is uncertainty – particularly about how much should you be pumping or how often you should check in with the caregiver.
Fortunately, not all emotions that a mom in this situation will experience are painful. There are also some positive ones, such as the relief of returning to a well-known routine. There’s also the relief of knowing that your child is in good hands when you’re away and that nothing will change your relationship. Try to enjoy these good emotions, and it will be far easier to handle the bad ones.
Back at Work – The First Month
At this point, most moms feel more comfortable and able to handle their new schedules successfully. There are still bad days, though, but the good ones are not so rare anymore. However, now that you finally feel “stable and able” and are used to your new routine, you could also feel that you need some things that will make your days run more smoothly.
How to cope with this? You may need something that will reduce your stress and give you a quick break. Doing yoga once a week, for example, could be the right choice. Or, perhaps, you might realize that pumping at your job isn’t really your thing, and you need to stop doing it.
The essential thing here is to ignore the opinions of other people and value your own needs. When making decisions, make them based on your own feelings – only you know what’s best for you and your child. Your baby will inevitably be affected if you’re not there emotionally and if you’re unable to take care of yourself. For that matter, whenever you feel the feeling of guilt creeping in, make sure to remind yourself that you’re helping both to your baby and yourself.
Back at Work – The First Year
One thing that can appear anytime in the first year is postpartum depression. It affects 1 in 9 women and has the following symptoms:
- You can’t enjoy spending time with your baby
- Lack of concentration once you’re back at work
- The thought of returning to work is crippling
- You’re crying all the time and have no energy
In case you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, do not keep them to yourself – reaching out is essential. Make sure to tell your partner, family member, or close friend everything about it. After that, consult with your health professional about treatment – he or she is guaranteed to point you in the right direction. Remember, you’re not looking for help only for yourself, but for your baby as well.
Some Additional Tips
- When returning to work after baby, creating a schedule at home can be of great help. The transition can be a much smoother one when you have a predictable routine. A schedule will keep you in control and organized, but also help your infant adjust better when you go back to your job.
- Make sure to communicate your expectations with the childcare provider. Leave relevant contact information, schedules, and notes as resources. If you’re planning to hire a nanny, create a backup plan in case the nanny can’t come to work.
- Talk to your boss and the HR department about what you expect before going back to work. Discuss your workload and the timing of the return. To reduce stress, clarify the special needs you may have before returning.
- Even though you’ll probably want to be focused on your job, catching up with colleagues on a personal level can be a good idea. Upon returning to work after maternity leave, support is very important – your coworkers will assist you in adjusting more quickly.
Even though the process of transition might seem terrifying at first, don’t forget that you’re both a loving mother and a reliable professional who can handle anything. Never apologize for doing a paid job and raising a person at the same time – brag about it!