BACK TO WORK

FIND­ING YOUR NEW NOR­MAL

Your Baby & Toddler - - FRONT PAGE - BY ME­LANY BENDIX

Go­ing back to work af­ter ma­ter­nity leave can be an emo­tional roller coaster: sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, ca­reer pres­sures and, to top it all, learn­ing to ex­press milk at the of­fice and then hop­ing no one nips it from the staff fridge for tea! No won­der stress, guilt and anx­i­ety are all nor­mal feel­ings to have when your back to work due date looms, but there are some prac­ti­cal steps new moms can take to ease the tran­si­tion.

AN­TIC­I­PATE THE SEP­A­RA­TION ANX­I­ETY

Dr Nan Jolly, a med­i­cal doc­tor and lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant at Baby Calm in Port El­iz­a­beth, says it’s typ­i­cal for work­ing moth­ers to have mixed feel­ings about go­ing back to work: “Leav­ing part of your heart be­hind will feel ter­ri­ble but you may also feel re­lief at the thought of do­ing a stim­u­lat­ing, worth­while job that you’ve missed, get­ting paid again, hav­ing some recog­ni­tion for what you do, and as­so­ci­at­ing with col­leagues.”

Much of the anx­i­ety around go­ing back to work stems from the fear that you won’t be around to con­stantly nur­ture your baby as you have been, and that she will feel “lost” with­out you. Dr Jolly says that your baby may well find the sep­a­ra­tion dif­fi­cult at first no mat­ter what you do, but she will bet­ter deal with the stress if she de­vel­ops com­plete trust that her mom will al­ways re­turn to her.

Be proac­tive in this by spend­ing your last weeks of ma­ter­nity leave strength­en­ing your bond with baby, en­sur­ing she feels se­cure in your spe­cial moth­erly love. “Don’t try to pre­pare your child for sep­a­ra­tion by sep­a­rat­ing be­fore you must,” Dr Jolly strongly ad­vises. “Be re­li­ably avail­able to your baby all the time you can.”

Lastly, even though you may be feel­ing anx­ious try to keep calm around baby be­cause she can sense your emo­tions. “A calm and re­as­sured mother will of­ten trans­late to a calm baby as well,” she says.

PRE­PARE YOUR HOME

Know­ing that ev­ery­thing is taken care of on the home front is go­ing to make your tran­si­tion back to work far less stress­ful, be­cause you won’t be wor­ry­ing about whether the carer knows who to call in an

PAY THE BOSS A VISIT

It helps to pay your em­ployer a visit be­fore you go back to work so you can en­sure ev­ery­thing is pre­pared for your re­turn and you’re both on the same page on how you plan to bal­ance your work­load with your new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of be­ing a mom.

Most im­por­tantly, if you plan on con­tin­u­ing breast­feed­ing your em­ployer or manager needs to know.

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