My newest baby is now 8 weeks old and I’ve already headed back to work.
I know I’m not alone when I say that going back to work after having a baby is tough. You’re about to hand over your brand new baby for 8 to 10 hours a day! Whether you went back to work after 4 weeks or 4 months, it’s definitely a transition that takes some getting used to. This will be my second rodeo and I feel much more prepared this time then I did with my first. Here are a few things you can do to feel a little more prepared for your first day back at work.
It may seem obvious, but the first thing that needs to happen is solidifying childcare. Whether it’s a family member, friend, private sitter, or a formal daycare center. With daycares, wait lists can be extremely long. We’re talking, months! So try to visit as many centers as you can and get on the wait lists with those you feel comfortable with. Luckily, there are also plenty of options in Waco that don’t have crazy long wait lists and provide excellent child care.
Second, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to pump at work in order to maintain your milk supply and avoid clogs, or worse, mastitis. Email your supervisor about when you specifically will be returning to work and about your plans to continue breastfeeding. Most employers are aware that they must provide you with adequate breaks and a place to pump as needed, but some may have no idea what that means! If you need more info on what counts as an appropriate pumping space or break times, this FAQ page may help. It’s hard work balancing pumping and working. You’re more than likely using your lunch break to make food for your baby and eating during the last 5 minutes, but it’s totally doable and 100% worth it!
This also means you’ll need a breast pump, and a good one, as well as a whole stash of milk storage containers and replacement parts. Most of the time, your insurance will provide a pump for you. I also highly recommend getting a quality pump bag. It’ll keep all your stuff organized, which makes it easier to go from work to home to baby’s diaper bag for daycare the next day. It also shortens your pump times at work, since you won’t have to spend precious minutes getting organized and setting up. I recently bought a Bananafish backpack style pump bag, but I’ve also heard great things about Thirty One bags and Sarah Wells. For my last baby, I had a Medela pump that came built into a tote, which made everything REALLY easy. I mean, as easy as pumping at work every few hours can be.
I’ve also found that starting mid-week, like a Wednesday or Thursday is better for my mental health. It’s a quick taste of the work routine that’s immediately followed by a weekend. The first few days are usually hard as you suddenly become extremely busy which often can lead to an emotional roller coaster. This second time, I started work mid-week, but sent the kids to our sitter anyway. This was a good trial run of our morning routine. How early do I really need to get up? (Hint, it’s super early!) How long does it actually take to get everyone dressed and fed breakfast before loading up the car? What time do I need to leave the house in order to not be late to work? This is all very useful information. Going back to work in stressful enough. Having a practice run at your morning routine can give you a much smoother start to the day.
One more thing that may be fun to do before going back to the daily grind is a shopping trip. You’ve just birthed a baby and spent several weeks getting to know a whole new body. More than likely, you don’t quite fit into your old work wardrobe and that’s totally fine! Getting one or two new transition outfits will not only be good for your spirit, but you may feel a little more productive at work if you look the part. I’m not talking a complete closet overhaul. I honestly wore my maternity slacks to work with Target t-shirts and scarves for more than I probably should have my first go around. But a nice, flowy day dress and a couple of cute tops may be the perfect pick-me-up right before the emotional roller coaster of returning to work.