Dear Diary,

When I returned to work after my maternity leave, I sat in my cubicle and cried. I missed my baby and couldn’t focus on anything in front of me, except maybe her picture in a frame. A combination of out of whack hormones, high emotions and sleep deprivation added up to zero productivity. When I clocked out physically–I never clocked in mentally, I found my daughter crying as well. She refused to take her bottle. Going back to work so soon was a recipe for disaster. But at the time, I felt like it was one more thing to cross off my to-do list. In reality it was a huge life transition.

I made every mistake in the book. And the worst part–I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.  After my second daughter arrived, I was well-aware of the key things I needed to do to prevent myself from falling apart. So, ever since, I’ve been on a mission to share my new mom tips so more women can feel empowered. The working mom lifestyle can be a very gratifying experience, but as you return after maternity leave, here are four things you can do to make a smooth transition from your baby to your boss.

Embrace the New Norm

Time for a gentle wake-up call that you will be expected to wind back up to the pace of life that you had before your sweet baby arrived. If this brings up feelings of anxiety, simply be aware of the feelings, which are normal.  This is a journey. Acknowledge that the journey is a bit like hiking hills. Your new norm will have some ups, and some downs, but when you look back it will be worth the trip.

Gather Your Tribe

Going this alone is an absolute no, no. There is no award for being strong at the sacrifice of your own self-care. Get a piece of paper. Write down one seasoned mom-friend who you can call your first week back for advice or who will simply just listen. Write down a community you could turn to for answers. This can be a private Facebook group, a church or even friends of friends. Think about where you could find supportive moms that will be there for your emotional and spiritual needs.

Plan it out

Most women are natural born planners, so this part of your life should be no exception. Here is what you need to do and when:

4 weeks after baby is born: Start pumping breast milk. If you baby breastfeeds and your supply overflows, start to pump one side in the morning when you are the fullest. Freeze your milk, and by the time you go back to work, you will have a fully stocked freezer. If you have concerns, your local lactation consultant can help. 

4-6 weeks after baby is born: Line up childcare. Call friends and family members for recommendations. Visit the facility in person, and request to be added to the waiting list.

2 weeks prior to returning to work: Email or call your boss to confirm your return date. You can also inquire about lactation rooms. Practice being away from your baby. Get in some much-needed me-time, and allow your baby to adjust to other caregivers and bottle feeding. Don’t go cold turkey.

1 week prior to returning to work: Pack your briefcase. Check out my Pump Bag Checklist. I’m not paid by Lansinoh, but I just tried so many brands and really liked their breast pads, lanolin cream and milk storage bags. Put a reminder in your cell phone at 10 a.m. and, a likely pumping schedule when back at work, saying “It’s all worth it!” Sending love notes to yourself goes a long way.

When you are back on the job, remember to be kind to yourself, ask for help, drink plenty of water and enjoy the precious time with baby when you get home. My passion and joy is to help moms through this time in their lives. Need a little support? Click here to schedule a FREE call with me! You can also find my maternity leave resources here and check out my fresh Pins on Pinterest.

Hey DFTM Fam–What did you do to prepare to go back to work after maternity leave?

Elaine is a married mom raising 4- and 2-year-old daughters in San Diego, CA. She writes about returning to work after maternity leave, mindful parenting and how to balance the demands of a working mom lifestyle. She loves being a mom, because her girls have brought a whole new level of love and meaning to her life. She gets to see the world again through their eyes. When not writing for DFTM, she manages her company Thrive Momma and guides women through the emotional transition back to work after maternity leave. She blogs on back to work readiness, healthy living and conscious parenting.

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