3 Helpful Tips for Going Back to Work After Baby
Returning to the workforce after welcoming your newest addition can be a tough adjustment for some parents - See our helpful tips below for going back to work after having your baby, so you can ease into the transition and get the support you need.
Returning to work after the arrival of a new baby can be a stressful time for some new moms. With a brand-new routine, coordinating childcare, and being away from the sweet new baby that you just spent days, weeks, or even months bonding with, it’s totally normal for moms to feel overwhelmed. In fact, an often overlooked issue for many women in this category is known as postpartum anxiety, and is often directly related to returning to your job after welcoming your baby. You may worry about how you will handle work-life pressures (with less sleep, to boot!) or you may feel an overall lack of confidence when it comes to meeting your breastfeeding goals.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, it’s estimated that 10% of new moms will develop postpartum anxiety. Symptoms include a noticeable increase in anxiety that could, in extreme cases, cause panic attacks or even depression. Also known as “Return to Work Syndrome”, it’s important for new parents to recognize and acknowledge how they’re feeling to ease the transition back to work.
Of course, every new parent is different. If you’re feeling eager to jump back into your professional responsibilities and all the things you love about work or you’re simply ready to regain a slight sense of autonomy, that’s great – and also totally normal! Conversely, other new parents may wish to transition back to work more slowly and ease into the new (and oftentimes more demanding) routine of balancing professional and parental demands. No matter where you may fall in the return to work transition, here are a few helpful tips to help you better manage this season of change and some common work stressors:
Communicate – Consistently and Often!
As you head back to work, this is a critical time when you may need extra support from your employer and colleagues. While some women handle the back-to-work transition with ease, others may need a little extra time, patience, and flexibility to adjust while balancing the demands of parenthood and professional responsibilities. Regardless of your unique situation, this is the perfect time to sit down with your manager or supervisor and talk through how to best manage your transition back so your stress is minimized. This may require flexibility on your employer’s part, but asking for what you need – be it the ability to work a hybrid schedule or regular pumping breaks – is key to helping you feel more supported at work.
New parents should feel comfortable speaking to their managers about workloads, responsibilities, and how you can successfully re-engage while finding that balance between your professional life and new parental demands. If you don’t feel comfortable having that conversation with your manager or supervisor alone, request that Human Resources is part of that meeting – they may be better versed in things like flexible schedule policies, childcare benefits, lactation spaces, leave of absence and sick leave policies, and company-specific perks and benefits that may be helpful to you as a working parent.
Don’t worry, mama – It’s understandable that these conversations don’t always feel natural, but it’s important to have clear understanding between you and your manager or supervisor before your return! Consider scheduling occasional check-ins to ensure you’re getting the support you need and to address any questions that may arise as you ease back into your work.
Prioritize Lactation Support for Your Breastfeeding Journey
Remember, mama, you can continue to provide all the benefits of your breast milk to your baby, even after returning to work! Be sure to ask about your company’s lactation policy and inquire about available lactation spaces for pumping at work.
By law, employers must ensure their breastfeeding employees have a comfortable lactation space available for pumping that complies with federal and local laws. In fact, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law requires that employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must “provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express milk.” Under this law, employers must also “provide a place other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
Find out if your employer stocks the lactation space with supplies like sanitizing wipes, storage bags, a refrigerator or freezer for pumped milk, and other pumping accessories. It’ll be important to communicate how often you’ll need to pump during the day – You may be able to use an online scheduling system to book the lactation space when you need it (and don’t forget to block the times off on your calendar too, so they don’t get scheduled over)! Knowing what kind of breastfeeding support your employer offers can help you prepare ahead of time to continue your breast milk feeding journey for as long as you choose.
Don’t Forget About Other Parental Support Programs!
Finally, ask your manager about any formal Employee Resource Groups (Affinity Groups) or mentoring programs in place for new parents like yourself. There may even be an informal support group for new parents – or maybe you can start one!
Other parental supports include programs like Kin, a customizable, single-source solution providing best-in-class technology, resources, and accessories for new and expectant parents at the workplace while supporting you to successfully balance your career with your breastfeeding goals.
These days, more companies realize that supporting their working parent employees is essential to ensuring an environment truly dedicated to engaging and retaining employees. Remember, mama, there are many new parents out there just like you who are dealing with “Return to Work Syndrome” or postpartum anxiety at the thought of being away from their newborn. Because of that, don’t feel shy about asking friends or fellow parent colleagues to share any tips they may have to help you best manage your transition back to work. Chances are, they will be happy to help because they’ve been exactly where you are now – and Medela is here for you every step of the way too!
- Berry, et al. CDC. Becker’s, Harvard.