Going back to work after being home with your baby can be a time filled with a range of emotions. You may discover that going to work and getting a break from your baby makes you appreciate the time with your baby even more. However, figuring out a new routine to get out of the house on time can cause a bit of stress.
Make routines and practice
Consider these tips for a smooth transition as you go back to work.
- Try it out. Take time to try out your new routine a few weeks before returning to work. This is one of the best ways to make sure your new schedule will work for you.
- Start the child care routine early. If possible, arrange to start taking your baby to his or her child care a few days before going back to work. This will help you and your baby adjust to the new routine and to practice saying goodbye for a few hours.
- Get organized the night before. Pack the diaper bag, purse and work bag; lay out your clothes and your baby’s clothes; pack your lunch; look over the next day’s to-do list. Anything you can do the night before will make your mornings easier.
- Plan for the unexpected. Make a backup plan for when your morning routine takes longer than usual, or what you’ll do when your baby is sick or child care is not available. Having a plan lessens the stress when your morning doesn’t go as planned.
Plan a pumping routine
If you’re planning to continue nursing, you’ll want to get your pumping routine down before you return to work. Start pumping and freezing your milk a week or two before you’re due back on the job. You’ll get in the habit of pumping and also build up a milk supply for day care or emergencies.
Having a worksite that is cooperative is important to your success. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Your workplace is required by law to provide a reasonable amount of break time and a place to express milk as frequently as needed for up to one year following the birth of a child.
“The space provided by the employer cannot be a bathroom. It must be shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public. You also will need a safe place to store the milk properly.”
Here are some tips to make this transition easier:
- Breastfeed before you leave for work. Many moms maintain milk production better if they breastfeed twice — once before getting ready and then again just before leaving their baby.
- Pump during your baby’s normal breastfeeding time. Pumping about the same time each day will help pumping sessions go more quickly.
- Pump both breasts at once. Use a double collection kit; double pumping reduces the amount of time you need. Try to pump every three hours for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Maintain milk production. It’s important to pump frequently to empty the breasts to continue milk production. Some mothers have a decrease in production when they first return to work. If that is your case, increase pumping sessions and breastfeed your baby as often as possible when you are not at work. If you are having trouble pumping every three hours at work, express small amounts of milk during bathroom breaks. Frequency is more important than the length of time you spend pumping. And breastfeeding more often in the evenings and on weekends also can help keep production strong.
- Breastfeed your baby as soon as you get home. Ask your care provider to avoid feeding your baby for an hour or two before you arrive so your baby is eager to breastfeed.
- Gradually extend the time between pumping sessions as your baby begins eating solid foods. Having your child care provider offer the solid foods may help your baby continue to breastfeed more when he or she is with you.
- Don’t go it alone if you’re having trouble making the adjustment. Call your doctor or seek assistance from a certified lactation consultant.
Experts say most moms need time to get used to a new routine — it can take weeks or even months. Remember, you are not alone. If you’re struggling with balancing family life and your work, talk to your partner, friend or health care provider.
Sanford Health offers support for every mom, whether you’re breastfeeding, pumping or formula feeding. Learn more about lactation services.
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