Written By: Jamie McKimmy
Returning to work after having your little one is often one of the hardest things a new mom has to tackle; especially here in the United States. Maternity leave is anywhere from 6-12 weeks depending on the employer. It can seem like a long time initially, but it goes by so incredibly fast once you’re in the thick of learning how to be a new mom. I know for me personally it felt like I had just brought my son home and I had to figure out how to work and be a new mom. Some mothers adjust better than others and get used to the new routine, while others never truly adjust to it.
I think the most important thing to remember is that whether you’re a working mom or not; whatever you are doing is what is best for you and your little one! Some moms who work feel bad for working, while other moms who don’t feel bad for not working. It is SO important to give yourself credit for what YOU choose to do and why you do it because your children will look up to you regardless!
For me personally, I struggled going back full time when my son was 8 weeks old. I told myself that I could do it and that I didn’t have any other options because I was a new grad and wanted to excel in my career as an Occupational Therapist. This was very unrealistic for me because with my job I was gone 50 plus hours a week. This broke my heart so much and caused me to have horrible postpartum anxiety. Through this I learned that part time was the best option for me as a new mom. I hope reading this small snippet of my journey as a mom will encourage you that every mom’s story is different and finding what works best is so important for the health of you and your baby.
Here are some things I wished I knew as I struggled to go back to work after having my son:
If you breastfeed and have to pump……
I would watch videos or look at pictures of my son while I was pumping to help with my supply. If I felt like that wasn’t enough I would sometimes video my son's childcare provider if she was able to so I could see him that way as well.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep…..
If it is realistic for your job try and use your lunch break as a 20 minute power nap. I wasn’t able to do this often, but I took advantage every time I could. New mom exhaustion is real folks!
Acknowledge your feelings…..
Being a new mom is HARD and BEAUTIFUL. Make sure to let your body feel what it needs to and don’t suppress it. It will only make things worse if you don’t take that time for yourself.
Have a safe person at work….
If you have a good relationship with any of your coworkers, USE them. Most people will do anything they can to support you at work during a big transition. Even if it is just a shoulder to cry on for a minute or a quick hug.