Myths About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave

Are you worried about going back to work after maternity leave?

maternity leave

Returning to work triggers different feelings for every mom. For me, it was the most difficult part of my entire new mom experience. I could not imagine leaving my tiny 12-week old son with a stranger, but it was what I needed to do if I wanted to keep my job. The anticipation of returning to work may be more stressful than the actual return.

5 myths about returning to work after maternity leave:

1. Your baby will love you less

Going back to work, whether it is by choice or necessity, is a tough decision for many women.

 Deep down, I worried that my son would connect more with the nanny because she was spending more time with him. Getting past those feelings of jealousy was important for me as a new mom. My child has a special bond with his nanny, but it is very different than our mother/son connection. A child's bond with his mother is special and unique. Working parents have less time to spend with their children, but being a good parent is not about quantity; it is about quality time. 

2. Working moms do not need mom friends

During maternity leave, I formed friendships with some wonderful women who had babies the same age as my son. We spent 3am texting while breastfeeding and 4pm at "happy hour" with our babies and beers. When I went back to work I was worried that we wouldn't find time to hang out. Some working moms I knew had not made the effort to make new mom friends because they knew they were going back to work...what would be the point?

Almost 2 years later, we still text all day along and find time for mom night's out and toddler play dates. These moms continue to be my support system and my sanity. 

No longer are the days where you have to pick up a new mom in the supermarket. A new app, Momco, for iOS and Android is a great place to start when looking for new mom friends.

 Momco helps you find moms in your area! You can communicate with other moms through private messages within the app or check out the MomCo forums to see what other moms like are talking about, ask questions and find support.  Momco also lists events, deals, and services in your area. 

3. You cannot continue breastfeeding

Breastfeeding while working may require extra planning and time, but is very doable. Before you return to work, focus on getting up your milk supply. You will need to learn how to use a pump since you will need to pump to provide milk for your baby while you are at work. Contact your insurance company and look for a high-quality pump that allows you to pump both breasts at the same time. Pumping while on maternity leave is a good idea so you can stockpile your milk supply. Stored milk is helpful in case you are not able to pump much on some days, and you can store milk in a freezer for between six and 12 months. Introduce a bottle to your baby a few weeks before you return to work as some babies need time to adjust to a bottle.

Try to pump milk at work at the same times your baby would typically feed so your supply stays on track with the baby's feeding pattern. Figure out the logistics of how to store your milk, both at work and home. Nurse when your baby wakes up, when your return home, and on weekends. 

4. You will know how you will feel about going back to work

It is hard to know how you will feel about returning to work until you experience it. Your feelings may surprise you. You may be sad to be away from home, worried you're missing milestones or other important moments. You may feel envious of your child's caregiver or feel guilty that you have to go to work. If you are lucky enough to have a satisfying career you feel passionate about, going back to the office may feel exciting, comforting, and stimulating. The transition from spending 24 hours a day smelling like diapers and burp cloths to being a professional might feel energizing and rejuvenating, especially because you don't get much feedback from your baby during the first few months of parenting. Returning to work is a major transition filled with many emotions. It is ok to be both sad to leave your baby but also happy to get back to your desk. Whatever you are feeling, be patient and kind to yourself during this difficult transition.

5. You will not be able to manage it all

The secret to a work-life balance is different for every mom, but some work-life balance principles are universal: saying no, prioritizing and banishing guilt. It is important to take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you are feeling alone or want to meet other women sharing similar experiences, join a support group for working moms in your area. It's also important to find activities that make you feel balanced in your new life as a mom and a professional, whether that means having monthly dinners with girlfriends, going out for drinks with colleagues, or scheduling date nights with your partner. You will be able to manage it all. Allow yourself time to figure out what that balance is for you.

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