How Do You Get Back To Work After Maternity Leave?
Being a working woman myself, I can safely say that this thought of resuming work had given me more sleepless nights than my little one. Most good companies in India provide a 6 month paid maternity leave. While 6 months is definitely better than what other working mothers get across the globe, it may still not seem long enough to be prepared to leave your little one for a full time job. What can definitely help is mentally bracing yourself and ticking a few things off that can help you be more at peace when the time comes.
Stay abreast of the maternity benefits and policies provided by your workplace
There would be a detailed circular outlining your maternity entitlements which would include the duration of the maternity leave, the options on extension of the leave, ramp back programs available for new mothers and day care facilities at your disposal. In an effort to improve diversity at workplaces, there is a concerted effort across organizations to create policies and provide facilities that make it conducive for new mothers to return to work. Being wary of these options earlier on can help you choose the right option when the time comes.
Deciding when to get back to work is a personal decision. As they say, a mother knows. Do remember your decision on when to get back to work in no way undermines your ability to provide for your baby or your ability to balance work. Your decision should not be influenced or guided by peer pressure or societal norms. Do it when you are mentally up for it.
Create safe havens for baby atleast 2 months prior to joining back
This safe haven would be the secondary caregiver- it could be a family member or a nanny. They say babies start recognizing faces once they reach the 4 month mark. Ensuring that your baby spends substantial active time with this caregiver, other members of the family and the nanny aids in building the same trust and comfort with them. This not only helps in their social development but also prepares them for life after you resume work.
If you are planning to get a nanny, do not procrastinate till the nth hour even though you can manage. The nanny should have at least 2 months in your supervision and with the baby to have a trusting relationship with both the baby and you both of which are equally important.
Creating safe havens for the baby is not enough, you need to also trust in the abilities of the secondary caregiver. Do what it takes to develop this trust- guide them through tasks, supervise, create schedules, highlight important dos and don'ts and train them through these two months.
Most mothers prefer the hands-on approach when it comes to their babies. After all it is difficult to trust anyone else to nurture your baby the way you do. In fact I too was a victim to this and would do everything myself- from giving an oil massage to a bath to putting the baby to sleep every single time. Two months down to your joining date, chart out a schedule and delegate these tasks to the caregivers. Do not take more than you can chew on your plate. Do keep in mind the demands of your job during this task allocation. Also don’t take undue guilt of not doing enough for your little one.
Baby proofing and readiness
Before you start work, do invest enough time and enough effort in baby proofing your home. This means that in your absence your home should be a safe environment for your baby. Do remember the baby in no time would be crawling and moving all over your home. Install your bed rails, fence out the unsafe areas, cover sharp edges and switch boards, lock up your drawers and cupboards.
You can also install baby monitors to help you check on your baby from time to time. You can sync these with your phones to give you access to different parts of your home while you are away.
If you are still breastfeeding, weaning away and introducing a bottle is another activity you should start a month in advance. Stay away when the caregiver is feeding the baby to accustom the baby to these mom free feeding slots. Do plan a pumping schedule and ensure the caregiver is trained on warming the bottle to the right temperature and the feeding schedule to follow. Another alternate that you can opt for to make this smooth sailing is a bottle warmer which works to heat the bottle to the right temperature. Your baby also might be already ready for solid foods. Do introduce these in your presence and make a list of foods that the baby responded well to. These could then be used by the caregiver to plan the food routine for the baby.
Also check with your HR on facilities within the office for pumping during work hours.
Ensure you have a set of emergency numbers jotted down for the caregiver’s reference. These could include contact numbers of a few colleagues at work, your baby’s doctor and friends/ family who could come to aid in case of any emergency.
Schedule your baby check on times
It would take resilience to focus on the work at hand and not resort to doing frequent checks on the baby. So schedule breaks between work hours and use these breaks to do these checks. Continuously thinking and worrying about the baby will defeat the purpose of getting back to work. It may take some time but channel your thoughts back to work every time you get distracted.
Remember, momma, more power to you for taking the decision of getting back to work! Remember you have done many more difficult things in life- giving birth is one and this too shall pass with the right support and preparation.
A typical engineer cum MBA working as a marketing professional in e-commerce and a mother to a 6 month old munchkin. Love doing everything under the sun- dancing, exercising, painting and reading but now fully occupied with momma duties. Picked up writing during my maternity break to share experiences with other new moms starting out on this adventure.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.