Some women I’ve worked with have been thrilled at the prospect of returning to work after the birth of their baby. Others have been literally sick to their stomachs.
If you are one of those who really doesn’t want to go back to work and is anxious at the thought of leaving your child, might I suggest that you start doing some mental-health
exercises as much in advance as possible?
Several times a day, visualize your baby in his child-care setting—whether that is with a family member, a nanny, or in an actual daycare—in your mind’s eye, see her happy and well cared for.
Whatever your daycare choice is, start by letting your child and the caregiver get acquainted. Start off with some mini sessions and slowly increase the length you’re gone. Don’t traumatize yourself or the baby by dropping her off to a stranger your first day back.
Once you work up to some time, make sure to do a practice run to and from your place of work. You’ll now need to allow more time for your journey than before you had the baby, especially if there’s a drop-off involved.
You can also use this time to really prepare the physical you, maybe do some work attire shopping if pre-pregnancy clothes are still a little snug. Don’t forget to try on those work pumps; feet can be known to swell during pregnancy. If your old outfits are OK to wear, have them dry-cleaned or laundered and pressed. Look your best so you can feel your best.
In advance of your return, make sure to keep in touch with your colleagues to get up to speed on what has been happening while you’ve been at home— whether that’s what the new workload is like, the name of the new secretary, or general office gossip. It will help to not feel totally out of the loop.
If your little one is still exclusively breastfed and has not yet had a bottle, you need to introduce a bottle-feeding and also consider what your options are for pumping at work. If you don’t already have a supply of frozen milk, then start up that pump! On a visit to the workplace, check out where you will be able to pump comfortably and where you will store the milk.
The night before you return, make sure the diaper bag is stocked. You know the drill: diapers, wipes, spare clothes, bibs, feeding supplies in whatever form that takes. Make sure the list of emergency numbers is in there, too.
And don’t forget the security blankets—one for you and one for baby.