7 tips to get back to work after a maternity break

Don't go it alone when it comes to resuming your professional life. Try to seek out guidance and motivation as you make the move.

By Dr Asha Baxi

It’s tough to return to work after parental leave. You’ve been gone for weeks or months, and you’ve emerged as a different individual, with different interests and concerns. So, how do you make the transition back to work as painless as possible? Is it safer to ease back slowly or jump right in if you have the option?

Most importantly, where will you go for emotional support and motivation during this difficult time? There’s only one thing that’s consistent here: things aren’t simple. You’re no longer the same person. You’re a mother, right? During your maternity leave, you discovered a lot about your baby and yourself. But now it’s time to return to work and establish a new routine while juggling a newborn, office work, housework, and making time for friends, husbands, and other family members, as well as squeezing in some “me time”.

Returning to work after parental leave can be frustrating, guilt-inducing, and exciting all at the same time. Here are a few pointers to help you cope with the change.

Start preparing during your final month of maternity leave

With a calm mind, consider your choices. What kind of schedule do you think can maintain? Do you prefer a babysitter or a creche to look after your child while you’re at work? Are you looking for someone to support you with all of your household chores? Or just a maid to help with arduous tasks like dishwashing and sweeping-mopping? All this will help you estimate how much free time you will have and what you can fit into your schedule.

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Create a new normal in your workplace

You will be devastated as a working mother if you have to leave a grumpy, teething infant, or even one who is sick, in a day care centre. So, set up a meeting with your supervisor to go over a few key points, such as the unusual working hours you will be required to maintain. Plan ahead of time with him or her how you will handle unexpected absences, such as “Baby’s sick, can I work from home?” days. If you’re looking for a change in career from what you did before your maternity leave, tell your manager how you will handle your workload.

Get a bigger bag

You will not only be holding a newborn, but also all of the baby’s necessities! Prepare to make red-faced statements like, “Gosh, I reached for my coin purse, really,” as you triumphantly take out a diaper instead! As a result, the new normal will almost certainly contain two more bags.

Bag 1 is for the baby’s needs only: Baby food, diapers, soothers, rash cream, talcum powder, first-aid supplies, two sets of clean sheets, towels, and bibs. Have the bag ready at all times, and replenish the things you need or leave at the day care centre as soon as you get home, so you don’t have to pack it in a hurry.

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Bag 2 is reserved exclusively for you: Are you still nursing your baby? The breast pump is then inserted. Often, pack extra snacks on a regular basis, a nutritious lunch because, after all, what you eat is what the baby eats, right? If your creche has one, the baby’s remote monitor, as well as an extra pair of tops for you (milk stains can get embarrassing at the workplace).

Moms stay strong

To get you back to the top, yes, it is difficult. But, given the fact that millions of mothers do it on a regular basis, it must be a lark. The key is to trust in yourself: believe that you are the right mother for your kids, that you can handle everything, and you can. And, of course, some forethought. So get your chest squared, your head up, and start walking like a mommy.

Mother-in-law helping you

Don’t be shy to ask your mother-in-law for help. Be considerate as she can be very helpful in these changing times and help you to keep things orderly around the house. While you are having sleepless nights she can be there to make things comfortable and warm for other family members, be it your husband or other members in a joint family.

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Freezing the breast milk for instant use

While commuting, breast milk can be held for up to 24 hours in an insulated cooler bag with frozen ice packs. Milk can be consumed right away, kept in the refrigerator, or frozen until you arrive at your office.

Breast milk should never be stored in disposable bottle liners or plastic bags that aren’t designed to hold breast milk. Milk that has been freshly expressed or pumped can be processed in the following ways: For up to 4 hours at room temperature (77°F or colder). Refrigerate for up to four days.

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It’s best to keep it in the freezer for at least six months, but up to 12 months is fine. Since freezing keeps food healthy for almost unlimited periods of time, it’s still important to stick to the recommended storage times for the best results.

Seek support from colleagues

Don’t go it alone when it comes to resuming your professional life. Try to seek out guidance and motivation as you make the move. Seek for support from your colleagues. Make friends with other parents who have small children in your office so that you can share and learn new experiences. Check to see if your company has any support for new parents.

(The writer is Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Indore)

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