One of the biggest challenges new mums face is going back to work after maternity leave. This can be a highly emotional experience, with new mums wondering how to balance their demanding career with their desire to spend enough time with their baby.
Juggling work and baby
Caring for your baby is already a 24-hour-a-day job. When you add a busy work schedule to your child-rearing routine, things can become overwhelming. There is no ‘perfect’ balance between work, family and other commitments. Bear in mind that you need to take care of yourself too: if you are tired and stressed you will not be able to do any of these things well.
On the upside, your life will eventually return to a more balanced state. In the meantime, it is best to just enjoy the ride as much as possible.
Finding day care
In an ideal world, you would be able to bring your baby to a day care centre at your place of work or leave them with a trusted in-home child minder or nanny. Or your husband would take over. Even if this is not possible, there are plenty of other options.
When choosing a day care provider, make sure that they are accredited and have a safe, clean environment. Do a background check on their employees, ask for referrals from other parents and do whatever you can to make sure that your child is going to be safe.
If you are breastfeeding, you will want to be sure that your day care centre is prepared to feed your baby with your milk, using a feeding solution such as Calma, which ensures your baby continues to use the same sucking behaviour they use when nursing at your breast.
Breastfeeding and pumping at work
Some women are concerned about whether they will be able to keep breastfeeding after returning to work and ask themselves questions like:
- Will I be able to express enough milk?
- Will my employer provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment for pumping?
- Will colleagues understand?
These are legitimate concerns, but most of the time things will work out just fine. Do not be shy about asking what your employer can offer, and try to put forward some constructive ideas yourself.
Adapting to a new working style
It might be hard to keep to the same travel schedule or work the same hours that you are used to. Consider asking your supervisor to help you arrange a more creative work schedule that could be a win-win for your employer and for you. If you are working full time, could you work a compressed week with four 10-hour days a week, or work from home one day a week? How about suggesting a part-time schedule or job share arrangement?
The key is to have a plan before you go back to work and present your ideas in a way that highlights the benefits for the organisation.
Staying positive and self-confident.
Many working mums are highly established in their careers before having a baby. If you start to feel exhausted or even trapped, remember that you are not alone in this situation. Contact your lactation consultant or a support and networking group for working mums – or start one of your own. You do not have to let negative emotions hold you back in your career or personal life.
Impact on the relationship with husband or partner
Going back to work as a breastfeeding mum opens up a variety of potential relationship concerns. You might worry about your finances. Or perhaps your partner feels somewhat unclear about their role. Try to encourage your partner to be honest about their feelings. Having children can make your relationship stronger, but you have to keep reaching out to each other, carving out time to spend together and assuming the best about each other’s intentions.
Working mums want to be independent, powerful and self-sufficient. If you are feeling emotional, remember that you are going through a very special phase in your life. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Try to use motherhood as an opportunity to create a wider circle of friends for you and your family.