One of the biggest challenges that new mothers face is going back to work after having a baby. This can be a highly emotional experience, with new moms wondering how to balance their demanding careers, while spending adequate time with their families. In other words, new moms often want to “do it all.”
The good news is that, with a bit of planning and preparation, you can smoothly manage the process of returning to work. Here are a few of the most common concerns that working breastfeeding moms have, and, more importantly, some tips for how to deal with them.
Juggling Work and Baby
Caring for a new baby is already a 24-hour-a-day job. When you add a busy work schedule into your childrearing routine, things can get a little overwhelming. There is no “perfect” balance between work, family and other commitments. So, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Keep in mind that, as a mom, you need to take care of yourself as well. If you’re not healthy, rested and relatively stress free, you won’t be able to do any of these things well. Your life will eventually return to a more balanced point. In the meantime, it’s best just to enjoy the ride as much as possible.
Finding Day Care
In an ideal world, you would be able to bring your baby to a day care centre at your place of work or leave them with a trusted in-home child minder or nanny. Even if this isn’t possible, there are plenty of other options.
When choosing a day care provider, make sure that they are accredited, trained in CPR and have a safe, clean environment. Do a background check on their employees, ask for referrals from other parents and do whatever you can to make sure that your child is safe.
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to be sure that your day care centre is prepared to feed your baby with your milk.
Breastfeeding & Pumping at Work
Some women are concerned about whether they’ll be able to keep breastfeeding after returning to work. Will they be able to express enough milk? Will their employer provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment for pumping? Will colleagues understand? These are legitimate concerns, but, most of the time, things work out just fine. Have confidence in yourself. You can do this!
What type of breast pump is the best pump for a working mom? The reality is that you will most likely need a double breast pump that can pump both of your breasts simultaneously. Not only will this save you time when pumping, but for Medela’s double breast pumps, it’s actually shown through research that they remove a similar amount of milk as the baby does and thus can help maintain your breastmilk supply.
Will Colleagues Understand?
How will you explain to colleagues? Most people understand that a woman’s life changes forever after having a baby and are likely to be supportive. If necessary, have a discreet conversation with trusted colleagues. Try to use humour to show others that this is just another thing working mothers sometimes have to do. It’s all just part of taking care of a new baby. Hopefully people will understand and appreciate your dedication to your family while also keeping up with your job!
Adapting to a New Work Style
Now that your baby has arrived, it might be hard to keep the same travel schedule or work the same hours that you used to. Consider asking your supervisor to help you arrange a more creative work schedule that could be a win-win for the company and for you. If you are working full time, could you work a compressed week (4 days a week at 10 hours per day), or telecommute one day a week? What about suggesting a part-time schedule or job share arrangement? The key is to have a plan before you go back to work, and present your ideas in a way that reinforces its benefits to the business.
Staying Positive and Maintaining Self-Confidence
Many working moms are highly established in their careers before having a baby. Even so, they may feel exhausted or even trapped. If you start to feel this way, remember that you are not alone. You don’t have to let feelings hold you back in your career or personal life.
Impact on Relationship with Partner
Going back to work as a breastfeeding mom opens up a variety of potential relationship concerns. You might worry about financial concerns. Or, perhaps your partner feels somewhat unclear about their role. Try to encourage your partner to be honest about their feelings. Having children can make your relationship stronger, but you have to keep reaching for each other, carving out time, and assuming the best about each other’s intentions.
Working moms want to be independent, powerful and self-sufficient – but we are only human, we don’t have to be strong all the time. If you are feeling emotional, know that you are processing some of the big moments in life that motherhood brings. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Try to use motherhood as an opportunity to create a wider circle of friends for you and your family. No one is an island, and motherhood makes this clear more than ever before.
What are your biggest concerns when it comes to breastfeeding and returning to work? Do you have any advice for new moms who are in this situation? Please add your thoughts in the comments section or join the conversation on our Medela Facebook Page.