BACK TO WORK
FINDING YOUR NEW NORMAL
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.