Going Back to Work after having a Baby

Going back to work after having a baby is something few mothers look forward to. After having spent weeks with her new baby, returning to the workplace can be an anxiety-ridden prospect.

Because of all the demands placed on her, a working mom can experience a great sense of inadequacy in all facets of her life. Not being the primary caretaker of her baby during the day can lead to feelings of failure as a mother. The time away from work and the subsequent rush to catch up leaves the mother feeling as a failure in the workplace. Undoubtedly, the house will become messy as there is little time for its upkeep so the mother feels that she isn’t taking care of her family well enough. And finally, the exhaustion and emotional stress of returning to work can wreak havoc on her intimate relationship with her husband, leaving her feeling like a bad wife.

There are the obvious struggles a working mom faces when first returning to work. Many moms want to stay home with their babies and feel tremendous guilt at not having the chance to do so. Dropping your baby at daycare for the first time is a heart-wrenching experience. There are always hopes that your baby will be held as much as she would be at home. There are also worries that you will miss big firsts in your baby’s life, such as taking a step or blowing a kiss.

Because in the US, most mothers can take only 8 to 12 weeks off, by the time she returns to work her baby is still not sleeping through the night. Working on 5 or less hours of sleep each night can leave the new mom struggling to focus on her work. Taking the time away from the workplace can sometimes leave the new mom at a disadvantage. It may take weeks to catch up with emails, voicemails and project deadlines, falling behind all the while.

Breastfeeding mothers returning to work have the added stress of having to express breastmilk during the workday. Two or three times a day, the working mother must find a quiet, private place and spend anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes pumping milk and then find somewhere to store it.

So, what can a mother do to cope with her return to work? Calling the person taking care of your child can give you a peace of mind. Many mothers will also visit their baby during their lunch hour. Writing down your baby’s schedule for your provider, and a list of likes and dislikes can help assure you that your baby’s day will be as normal and stress-free as possible. Having pictures in the workplace can help ease the pain of not seeing your little one. I have a digital frame loaded with over 100 different pictures of my children that flash up throughout my day.

Mothers that return to work need to be aware of all the pitfalls. Knowing what to expect can help mothers manage all these challenges more effectively. Eventually it does become less difficult.