Maternity leave ending soon? Make the transition back to work easier for both of you.

Returning to your job after having a baby, once your maternity leave is over, can cause a major upheaval for you and your little one both. There are lots of thing that start worrying you. For instance, there are new schedules to adjust to, caregivers to get to know, and other complex emotions to face as you’ll suddenly be apart from your baby for lengthy stretches during the day. We know that it’s enough to stress out any new mom.

Description: Baby

But the way you tackle these challenges will impact how well your infant copes with your absence. “Babies are very in tune with their mother’s feelings,” says Dr. Lee Beers, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington DC, US. “If your child senses that you’re calm and comfortable, he’ll likely react more positively to the changes is his routine.” Dr. Beers, a mother of two young kids, speaks from wcperience. She and other paediatricians from the US, share their strategies for making a seamless return to work.

Plan ahead

Description: Plan ahead

During the first few weeks, you’ll be figuring out how to juggle your job and your new-mom duties. Being organized is essential. “If you handle the logistical issues – who’s doing what and when in the household – it helps you deal better with the emotional part,” says Dr. Beers. Make a weekly schedule of chores, and baby care. Try to keep your baby on a regular routine of naps, meals, bath, and bedtime so she starts to anticipate what comes next.

Building a cushion into the morning rush is crucial. “About a week before you turn, try out your new schedule,” advises Dr. Abby Geltemeyer, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, US, and a mother of four. “See whether you have enough time to get the diaper bag packed, the bottles ready, and your baby changed, dressed, and dropped off.” If not, this is your chance to make adjustments.

Start pumping

Description: Start pumping

If you plan to continue nursing, you should begin freezing milk several weeks before your return to build up a healthy supply for daytime feedings. You’ll also want to get your baby used to drinking from a bottle: Most experts advise introducing it when he’s 2 to 4 weeks old.

Find out ahead of time if and where you can pump on the job. It might even be worth investing in a second machine that you leave at work (it’ll save you the hassle of carrying the pump every day). Even if you choose not to pump at work, there’s no need to wean your baby. You can breastfeed in the mornings and evenings, and your milk supply will gradually adjust so you don’t become engorged during the day.

Soften the separation

Although an infant is too young to experience separation anxiety, many mothers notice that their infant tends to become fussier when her environment changes. To help your baby adjust more quickly to her new arrangement, spend short periods away from her before you go back. “This helps her learn that it’s perfectly normal for other people to take care of her too,” says Dr. Beers.

If you’re going to drop Baby off at your mum’s place, get her used to the routine several days to a week before you return. This will help your child get familiar with the routine. Pack an item of your clothing, which carries your comforting smell. Dr. Rachel Plotnick, a paediatrician at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, US, and a mother of two, adds that it’s often easier for new moms to restart work midweek; that way you’ll only have a few days to wait until the weekend.

Anticipate pratfalls

No matter how foolproof your work and childcare arrangement may seem, there will be times when things don’t go smoothly. Babies get sick. Nannies take off one leave without prior intimation. Day-care centres may close for a maintenance day. Your boss might need you to stay after hours to complete a project. So you’ll want to have a backup plan in place. Line up alternative caregivers – your partner? A neighbor? And look for emergency resources such as an agency that could give you a day nanny. It may sound like a lot of legwork, but the rewards for thorough preparation will pay off: your baby will be well cared for, you’ll be more content, and, best of all, you and your child can enjoy a happy reunion everyday.

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