A Smooth Transition
Getting organized before you return to work will ease the transition. Settle on the child care you will use and begin using it a few weeks before you return to work. Make some meals ahead. Be prepared for any and all emotions. You may or may not feel guilty. You may feel a sense of relief. Remember: you're a good mother.
Here are some other tips that will help:
Stay in touch. While you are on maternity leave, keep in touch with work colleagues. Call, e-mail, or even go out to lunch with some work friends to keep up with office politics and changes. You don't have to take on any projects, but staying in touch will ease the transition.
Do some practice runs. Even before you return to work, try and follow the morning schedule you'll have so you can know exactly how much time and what you need to get you and your baby ready and out the door.
Check your wardrobe. You want clothes that are comfortable and fit. Don't be discouraged if you haven't lost all the pregnancy weight or your body and feet have changed sizes. Buy what you need so you return to work in appropriate, well-fitted clothes.
Make a decision on how your baby will be fed when you are at work. You don't have to stop breastfeeding if you return to work. You can pump and freeze breastmilk that your child care provider will give him. If you want to continue breastfeeding, start pumping and freezing milk weeks in advance of your return to work. Make arrangements to pump at work. If you decide to wean your baby, do it slowly so the transition to formula is easy on both you and your infant.
Start off slow. If possible, return to work on a Thursday, so your first work week is short. Ask if you can work shorter hours the first week or two. It's already a big adjustment, so it's better if you don't feel overwhelmed immediately.
Prepare for mixed staff reactions. You may return to a warm welcome and offers of help and support. Or you may find some coworkers who resent your time off and check your workload against their own. Do your job, take care of yourself and your family, and don't worry about the negative vibes sent your way.
Eat a healthy snack at work. Before you race out the office door, eat a snack so that you're not overwhelmed by hunger while trying to take care of your baby at the end of the day. You can eat a meal with or without your partner later in the evening.
Adjust your expectations and perhaps your job. After a few weeks, evaluate how your return to work is going. Are there ways to streamline the process or ease the transition for you and your baby? Do you want to consider changing jobs? Can you work less hours? Can you arrange for flextime? Can your partner work different hours to care for the baby?
None of it is written in stone, and you will need to make adjustments at work and at home as your baby grows.