Going Back to Work Postpartum

Written by: Megan Stander


Time to Read: 6 min

You've brought a new life into the world. However, as the joy and challenges of maternity leave unfold, the inevitable return to the workplace looms on the horizon.

As a new parent, re-entering the workplace requires a delicate balance of emotions, practicalities, and self-care strategies. There's the excitement to reconnect with colleagues and immerse oneself in familiar tasks, intertwined with the inevitable separation anxiety from the bundle of joy left at home.

The transition requires careful planning. Going back to work postpartum is an opportunity for personal growth and a chance to redefine your life's structure, priorities and responsibilities as you try to balance a career and caring for a precious new life. It is a journey marked by resilience, adaptability, and a testament to the strength of those managing the intricate tapestry of work and family life.

In this blog, we'll explore some key aspects of returning to work after maternity leave and share tips on making the process smoother.

Here's our roadmap to help you get back to work after having a baby:

1.   Embrace Your Mixed Emotions

2.   Childcare Arrangements 

3.   Build a Support System

4.   Planning and Communication

5.   Establish Routine and Divide Responsibilities

6.   Prepare to pump

7.   Self-Care Strategies

8.   Missing Out

Embrace Your Mixed Emotions

Embrace your emotions - Going Back to Work Postpartum - Raising Mama - Maternal Mental Health Support

Getting back to work after maternity leave often comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. On one hand, there may be excitement about reconnecting with colleagues, resuming professional responsibilities, and regaining a sense of normalcy. On the other hand, there might be a tinge of guilt or sadness about leaving your little one behind.

It's crucial to acknowledge and embrace this mixed bag of emotions. Allow yourself the space to feel and express what you're going through. Share your thoughts with your support system—whether it's your partner, friends, or fellow moms. Remember, it's entirely normal to experience a range of emotions during this transition.

Childcare Arrangements Before Going Back to Work

Once you are mentally and physically ready to return to work, choosing the right childcare arrangement is the singular most important part of your planning that will help realize your goal. Whether you pick a daycare center, nanny, or family members, make sure you feel confident and comfortable with your chosen option.

When it comes to daycares, there's usually a long wait list, so make sure you are visiting and registering at multiple daycare facilities beforehand. Kids will fall sick a lot, so think about child care arrangements when the baby is at home recovering from a flu or whatever infection it is that they caught at the daycare.

If you're going with a nanny, interview multiple nannies to see which person fits in best with your baby's requirements, your lifestyle, and budget as well. It is helpful to discuss routines and expectations, and establish clear communication channels to address any concerns.

If it is a family member that's gonna come to your rescue, make sure you establish boundaries, talk about your expectations, have back-up options on days when they are going to be unavailable, and also think of ways you can repay them for their kindness.

Build a Support System

Build support system - Going Back to Work Postpartum - Raising Mama - Maternal Mental Health Support

Surrounding yourself with a supportive network can make a significant difference during this transition. In all likelihood the problems you will face will already have been experienced by others. 

Connect with other working parents who have gone through a similar journey. Share tips, advice, anecdotes, and offer each other for emotional support. Having a strong support system that you can lean on for help can alleviate the challenges and make the return to work a more positive experience.

Planning and Communication

A well-thought-out plan can be your best ally in transitioning back to work smoothly. Start by communicating with your employer about your return date and discuss any adjustments to your schedule or responsibilities. This open dialogue will help manage expectations on both sides. Talk about pumping, flexibility of schedule, and what benefits you are entitled to at work.

Talk to your colleagues especially ones who have had a baby. Their insight into managing workload as well as familiarity with office policies related to a new mom will be very valuable. A lot of women consider a phased return wherein the gradually ease back into the professional environment. This approach affords you time to strike a balance between personal and professional life.

Establish Routine and Divide Responsibilities

Going back to work doesn't have to be scary. With proper planning and anticipating potential needs, transitioning to work life can become easier.  Talk with your partner about your new routine will look like, divide responsibilities when it comes to baby and household chores. 

Night Routine Baby - Going Back to Work Postpartum - Raising Mama - Maternal Mental Health Support

Establish a day and night time routine for the baby so that it is easier for everyone to sleep on time. A routine for baby will also help you when the baby starts going to day care.

Prepare to Pump

Pumping - Going Back to Work Postpartum - Raising Mama - Maternal Mental Health Support

If you are breastfeeding your baby and are returning to work, please be prepared to pump. Talk to your HR and colleagues who have gone through the challenge of pumping at work and learn how they managed it. Think about where you will pump (what are the acceptable spots you can use to pump) and how you will store the expressed milk and transport it back home in the safest condition possible. 

At the same time, get the baby used to the bottle. This should be an important part of your postpartum planning.

Self-Care Strategies

Returning to work after maternity leave does not mean getting up and going to work like you did before you had your little one. Post baby, you will need to take time to assess your schedule and think about what tools or strategies you will need to effectively manage that schedule.

This includes having a plan of action for the day, division of household chores and responsibilities, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and finding moments for self-reflection and relaxation.

It's essential to set realistic expectations for yourself. You may not be able to do everything perfectly, and that's perfectly alright. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace. Celebrate the small victories, both at home and in the workplace.

Missing Out

Missing Out - Going Back to Work Postpartum - Raising Mama - Maternal Mental Health Support

Once you return to work and your child starts going to daycare or even if you have full time child care at home, you will still be missing out on a lot of your baby's firsts. There's going to be fear of missing out and guilt for having missed things.

Understand that just like having a baby is a big transition, getting back to work is also a transition and will take a while till you get adjusted. You're not alone in this journey, and countless parents have walked this path, finding a fulfilling balance between their personal and professional lives.

Returning to work after maternity leave is undoubtedly a multifaceted journey. By acknowledging your emotions, planning thoughtfully, securing reliable childcare, prioritizing self-care, and building a support system, you can navigate this transition successfully.

How can I manage the mixed emotions of returning to work after maternity leave?

Acknowledging and embracing your emotions is crucial. Lean on your support system, share your feelings, and remember that it's normal to experience a range of emotions during this transition.

What factors should I consider when arranging childcare before returning to work?

When choosing childcare, consider factors such as your comfort level, availability of backup options, routines, expectations, and communication channels with caregivers. Ensure you feel confident and comfortable with your chosen arrangement.

How can I build a support system to help me during the transition back to work?

Connect with other working parents who have gone through similar experiences. Share tips, advice, and offer each other emotional support. Having a strong support system can alleviate challenges and make the return to work a positive experience.

What should I discuss with my employer before returning to work?

Communicate your return date, discuss any adjustments to your schedule or responsibilities, and inquire about workplace policies regarding pumping, flexibility, and benefits for new parents.

How can I ensure a smooth transition in dividing responsibilities with my partner when returning to work?

Discuss and establish routines and responsibilities with your partner. Communication is key in dividing childcare and household chores effectively to maintain a balance between personal and professional life.