Returning to work after your first baby, can be brutal. Most of us American Mums have only had around 3 months of cuddle time with our newest human beings before we must return to work. And when we return, we are still working out the ever-changing needs that go along with feeding and nursing Little One, plus the basics of juggling our lives as they are now. There might be daily bouts of uncertainty, but know this: you are where you should be and KNOW you are doing your best. Don’t talk badly about yourself. You sometimes need to use your Mini-Mummy-Mantra’s and take it one task at a time.
So we are returning to work on Monday? Can I offer some loving advice because it is hard at times. If we had more time, I’d suggest “preview days,” where you come back for a few hours, here and there, during your leave. These are more popular in the UK, where they have more paternity leave than we do.
And you have until tomorrow. So let’s get to it. Here are some tried and tested Returning-to-Work tips, for first-time Mommies:
Get it done and get home!
Don’t spend one minute more than you need to at work. Get in, get ‘er done, and get home to your sweet little baby bobo. I am praying your boss is cool and isn’t watching you clock in and out. You might be late because Sweet Girl peed through her diaper while you nursed her, just before you left for work. Or you forgot your Boobie Horns! Doh! And had to drive, literally, all the way back home to get them. Hopefully you can have a few minutes of leeway. You know, you’ll get your 8 hours in, I just hope your manager and co-workers are decent and gentle with you. No need to stay late. Get home so you can reunite with your squishy little baby! You will be working late, just not at your day job.
Coffee and sunglasses, Girl.
Coffee and lots of water. And don’t forget to eat. You got to take care of yourself! You’re making baby food and haven’t slept properly for, like 3 months! Maybe when you invest in your Holy Mini Fridge, you should think about getting a microwave, too. You need to be in control of your dietary needs and you won’t have a ton of time to go out for lunch because of pumping.
About the coffee; some people discourage drinking lots of coffee when your breastfeeding, but they aren’t the work-policy sadists who make a new lactating mom return to work with a 3 month old at home. So you drink your Joe because I know you were up a LOT of the night AND have to perform at work. I’d maybe also invest in some licorice-tasting Mother’s Milk tea, to promote milk production, while you’re at it. Let’s be very real: you are doing two jobs simultaneously. Well done you.
The sunglasses are for two reasons: crying and lack of sleep. Those first few days, Mondays, after big breaks; all can be a little rough emotionally. I intentionally kept it professional and to the point with colleagues who asked about Baby.
1. I didn’t want to seem anything less than professional at work, and
2. I didn’t want to talk about him because I would cry. End of story. Moving on.
Oh and all your pump stuff.
You will now have at least one very important piece of equipment: your fantastic pump (which I hope you got paid for through Obamacare!). I named mine Senor Pump. I also carried a mini-cooler, Mr. Cooler.
I recommend getting an extra pair of flanges and bottles with lids to keep at work. I have forgotten those, making pumping impossible. There were two times where I forgot those items and Mom had to bring kiddo to where I was. Another time, I forgot my pump altogether, and I had to drive all the way home!
Also, get that funny-looking pumping bra. I honestly don’t have any idea why I didn’t and I pumped at work for two years! These will enable you to use your hands for emails, twiddling your thumbs, picking a new show on Netflix. The options are endless. Watching a favorite show is a good idea because it helps your relax. If you relax, your milk comes down. Some mummies like to look at pictures of their wee babes or videos on their phones. I’m sure you’ll figure out what works for you!
Do what you gotta do!
Can you skip out on that happy hour? Or business trip? Will anyone notice if you don’t show up to a routine, end of the day training? Probably not (and if they do, they are dumb). You go home and hold your baby. She won’t be that small little being she is right now.
When you are scheduling meetings, do not let anything be scheduled during your pumping sessions or after your end of the day. Practice suggesting alternatives, like, “I can’t meet at 6pm, but I’d be happy to schedule you in for 8:30 am, the following day.”
Amazon Prime was my friend (at least for three free months), when I first went back to work. Your time is super limited because you are either running to childcare, to work, to home and really don’t have much time to grocery shop. I also like it because you can shop on your iPod or smartphone while you’re nursing and it gets delivered super fast. In fact, it might be worth looking into grocery delivery. I get Tesco delivery, in England, and it’s life-changing.
You have other priorities now (and it bugs me how much women apologize). Don’t let people-pleasing get in the way with your pumping schedule. I pity the fool who decreases your milk supply! You might have to educate a few ignorant co-workers, even bosses and event managers.
That first few days, set a pumping schedule you can keep. It would be great to keep a pumping schedule that matches the times you usually feed your baby.
Be matter-of-fact about pumping. It only takes 15-20 minutes. If they ask where you are going, smile, look them dead in the eye and say, “I’ve got to pump.”
I especially love to do this to unsuspecting young guy coworkers.
When asking for a place to pump, if you’re away at a training or at an event, you might as well just ask for an empty office. Bathrooms are out of the question (and not an option legally). I mean, come on. It does not even make sense. Can you imagine sitting on the pot, trying to teeter-totter your pump on your lap, while putting the equipment together? Besides that, there are no wall sockets in bathroom stalls. And there are pee pee and poo poo germs in there!
Can we stop talking about this now –it grosses me out. BUT do you know how many times I have been told I can use the bathroom? More than I’d like to count.
So time to educate – bathrooms aren’t just gross, but illegal. I have said, all too many times, “It’s illegal to suggest I pump in a bathroom.”
Save sick days for Baby.
If you didn’t relinquish all your sick days to your maternity leave, then save them for when Baby’s sick. Obviously, if you are really sick, then take the time off, but you will want to be there for your kiddo.
1. Then babies are sick, all they want is Mommy and nursing. Mommy’s milk is sometimes the only thing they want to have, or can stomach.
2. It is nice for the Nanny/grandparent/childcare worker not to have to be exposed to germs and get sick, too. This might be better in the long run – you need them!
3. If things get worse for your Little One, God forbid, you can call the shots quickly and even take her to the doctor, if need be.
4. You’ll never regret it. You’ll get extra cuddle time and I’m sure, if your baby could talk, they’d tell you how much they loved you being at home while they felt like crap.
5. You’ll have to take a few days off for routine doctor well-checks, too.
Slow and Steady Big Buddy.
Take it one day at a time, Mummy! Routine will be your friend. So will take-out. You are now officially Super Mom! Love you! xo