11 Tips for Surviving Your First Week After Maternity Leave Ends

Dreading your first week back at work after maternity leave?

It’s definitely a challenging time, and it requires a lot of preparation, both mentally and logistically.

Blooming Baby’s Operations Manager, Deia Dressman, recently returned to work after a 3-month maternity leave. On the morning of her first day back she breezed into the office with a smile on her face, chatted with us all for a moment and went right to work. It was as if she had never left.

Knowing how difficult the first week can be, I wanted to learn how Deia managed to keep it together, and then pass her best tips along to you.

Blooming Baby Office Deia Dressman and baby hanging out at the office. She comes in from time to time to model our products and say hi to mom!

At the end of the week, I had one burning question. How did she feel on her first day? Was she happy to be in the office or was she missing every second of quality of time with her baby??

She shared, “The first day, surprisingly, felt really good. It felt great to get out of the house and let them (baby and nanny) do their thing and it felt nice to kind of ‘adult’ again.”

But the days before Deia’s arrival back at the office weren’t quite as smooth. When asked about the days leading up to her return, Deia said, “I was dreading it. It was sad to leave my baby. I was definitely counting down the days and squeezing my baby a little tighter. It’s hard to leave something that you are so literally attached to constantly for the last 3 and-a-half months.”

Fortunately, Deia was uber-prepared for her first week back and has some extra helpful tips.

11 tips for a successful return to work after maternity leave ends
  1. Start planning the terms of your return before your maternity leave even starts!

If the thought of coming back to work at 8am on Monday morning and staying until 5pm (or later) is unbearable, then it’s time to think about an alternative schedule. This may not work at every company, but you won’t know until you ask. At the very least, discuss alternative scheduling options with your employer.

Here’s what Deia did:

“I presented a few options for what my hours would be when I came back. I knew I wanted to work only part time in the beginning, but that wasn’t really practical. I had suggested a three-day work week, where I would work three full days and then be off for two days.

I offered to work from home during that time if needed. Instead, they suggested that I come into the office Monday through Friday from 9am until 1pm and then work from home in the afternoons. They definitely wanted me in the office five days a week.”

Key Takeaway: Presenting your employer with multiple scheduling arrangements and being flexible is key.

  1. Before you come back, check in with your employer to make sure they’ve made proper accommodations for you.

Before Deia came back to work, she met with the CEO to confirm that there was a proper place for her to pump. Companies subject to Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to provide a private place to pump that is NOT a bathroom, so check with your employer to ensure you get the space you need.

  1. Plan daycare as soon as possible.

Trying to find a nanny or reserve a spot in daycare the week before you’re due back at work puts you in a desperate time crunch. Deia recommends considering options toward the end of your pregnancy. You don’t necessarily need something set in stone, but having an idea of what you’d like to do is a huge first step.

Deia said “I started interviewing daycares while I was still pregnant. A lot of daycares have long waiting lists. But once we figured out that I was coming back into the office parttime only, we decided to look for a stay-at-home-mom in the neighborhood who would be interested in making a little extra money.

We used an app called NextDoor that allows you to connect with all of your neighbors. We only got one response, but she fit all of our requirements and it worked out great!”

  1. Practice your routine for a week before your start date.

“Practice your morning routine and start the week before so you and baby have the same routine. Go through the steps and the motions of what your morning would be so you’re not scrambling your first day back.”

Some things to keep in mind for a smooth transition: “Make sure baby gets up at the right time so they can feed at the right time. We have it set up so that by the time I am ready to leave for work she is ready for her first nap and I’m able to put her down myself. It eases my heart a little bit because she’s not staring at me as I walk out the door. I absolutely love that.”

  1. Pack everything for work the night before.

Even though you may be dragging your feet, it’s important to prep for tomorrow morning the night before. Rushing frantically in the morning means you’re sure to forget something critical that will throw off your entire day.

Deia says, “I pack the night before. All my nursing stuff is ready and my computer is packed and ready to go. You don’t want to be scrambling to find a pumping part that you might have used earlier that night.

I also bought extra pumping parts so I have some at home and some at work. Ideally you want a complete set in each location so you don’t run into a situation where you forget a part at either the office or at home when you really need it.”

  1. How to stay focused:

What is your baby doing at this very moment? Sleeping? Smiling at your dog, Reggie, as he tries to lick her face? Is she hungry?

While it’s natural to let thoughts of your baby bombard your mind, Deia says it’s best to stay busy.

“I’m always thinking about her, but I have so much work to do while I’m here that the hours fly by. I don’t even look at my personal email when I’m here so I can maximize my time while I’m here. And when I’m working from home, I do have distractions so I want to make sure I get as much done as possible in the office.”

11 Tips for Surviving Your First Week After Maternity Leave Ends
  1. How to overcome unexpected challenges:

No matter how carefully you plan and prepare, you’re bound to be caught off guard by something you never planned for. I asked Deia what her biggest challenge was her first week back and the answer was not at all what I expected.

This was Deia’s biggest challenge:

“Personally my biggest challenge was having my nanny tell me on my third day back that she wasn’t going to be home with my baby when I came home from work. That really made me emotional.

Mentally accepting the fact that you’re not with your baby and she’s doing things with another person that you’re missing out on is difficult. For example, my nanny told me that she took a video of her laughing and I rarely get laughs so I’m like, “send me that!” And just thinking about that is making me tear up.”

  1. Feed your baby as soon as you get home.

Hurray! You survived the day and you’re reunited with baby. What do you do first?

Deia says, “Someone told me when I get home to nurse right away. It doesn’t matter if she just ate or not. It serves as a stress reliever and lets mom and baby reconnect. Baby knows mom is back, and that’s been a really helpful tip for me. So that’s the first thing I do when I get home is nurse her."

  1. Maximize your bonding time at home by wearing your baby.

Deia advises, “Wear baby as much as possible so the two of you feel close. I wore my baby in a Solly wrap until she was 3 months and now I’ve transitioned into the Blooming Baby Carrier, which as a ton of back support. If I have to go anywhere after work, I love wearing her and keeping her close.”

Baby Wearing - wear baby as much as possible
  1. Keep a journal.

Knowing your baby is in good hands is key, but having it in writing is even better. Deia recommends, “Have a journal between you and your care provider (whether nanny or daycare) as to what baby did during the day, what time she ate, how much she ate, the number of diaper changes, etc. so you can feel like you didn’t miss out on what she was doing and you know what she was doing.

Also, in terms of pumping, it allows me to know how much milk I need to leave her, too. And it can change from week to week, so it’s good that we have a journal where she writes things to me and I write stuff to her.

Plus, I can give her tasks to do while baby’s napping like folding laundry, or throwing the ball for the dogs, or other little things to do around the house, and that’s really cool. In turn she’ll leave me a note like the ‘Baby bouncer battery died’ or ‘which bottle do you want me to use on a certain day’. It’s helpful because it keeps the communication open. Plus everything is documented.”

  1. Bonus tip for getting extra sleep:

If your baby is not sleeping through the night by the time you come back to work, have your partner take over a night feeding. Have it be at either the beginning of the night or the last stretch first thing in the morning so you can get a good stretch of sleep instead of waking up every three hours.

Last thoughts: Do you have any helpful tips to share? We'd love to hear them! Please comment below so we can keep adding to this list ?

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