Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was always being questioned about maternity leave. Are you going to start your leave before the baby is born? How long are you going to take off? I had a really easy pregnancy and I knew that I wanted to spend my time off with the baby, so I decided it would be best for me to start my leave whenever he decided to make his appearance. What I didn’t know was how long I would really want to take off. I am an extrovert, and by no means a home body. And I also enjoy my job (most days ;)) so when it came to how long I was going to take off I thought for sure I would want to take limited time off. I was given the choice to take between 6-12 weeks off and I decided I’d meet in the middle and take 8.
At around week 3 of my leave, all my thoughts shifted. I wanted the most time off I could possibly have. I ended up settling at 10 weeks, and let me tell you, the week before my leave was over, the emotions hit, and they hit hard. I had spent just about every minute of every day for the last couple of months with my baby and I literally had no idea how hard it was going to be to leave him. I have a bad habit of over-reacting and another of wanting to be in control, so naturally I had all these thoughts that I was going to miss everything, and the fear that I won’t be the one in charge of what goes on all day. Which I’m sure sounds completely irrational to many of you, and it kind of is. But hey, sometimes you just have to accept your personality flaws, lol.
The day quickly came; I kissed my sweet boy goodbye and headed off to work. Now here I am, on day 7 of being back to work. There are definitely a few things I am happy I did, and some things I wish I would have done differently leading up to and during this first week back.
If you are struggling with returning to work, or maybe you don’t think you will but are just curious how you can prep for you return, I would like to offer you a few ideas to keep in mind.
This is something that I didn’t do that I wish I had. Practice setting your alarm for the normal time you would wake up and practice your normal morning routine. Practice the drive to the daycare or caregiver’s house, as well as the drive to work. You may find that your baby wakes up to eat right in the middle of the time you are typically in the shower, or when you are normally eating breakfast, or maybe that you need to leave 15 minutes earlier than normal to a lot for the drop-off time. Time management with a newborn isn’t really the easiest. Figuring out your new routine before returning back to work can help take away some stress on that first day.
Ease into it
I am SO thankful I decided to do this. Go back to work on a Wednesday, or Thursday! This lets you slowly ease yourself back into the swing of things.
Buy new clothes
I dropped back down to my pre-pregnancy weight really quickly. However, my body is totally different. These momma hips don’t lie, right ladies? I could have squeezed myself into my pre-pregnancy pants but instead I decided to just buy new, bigger, pants. We can be so hard on ourselves, and sure, it’s hard to swallow that I’m not currently a size 4 like I was, but it’s so important that we remember what our bodies went through and accept that we may be a little different now. Don’t be ashamed. Embrace it and go get yourself some new clothes that fit your new figure! Look good, feel good!
This next part is for breastfeedings mommas. Milk, nursing pads, snacks. Stock up on all of it! Someone told me along the way that I shouldn’t really worry about have a milk supply in the freezer because I’ll be able to pump what my baby needs for the next day while I’m at work. Well, pumping at work isn’t always the easiest! Sometimes you get caught up doing something and next thing you know it’s been 4-5 hours when your baby normally eats every 2. If your supply allows you to, I HIGHLY suggest a freezer supply! It’s such a relief knowing you have extra if you have to miss a pumping session. Nursing pads…your BFF. The first day I went back I forgot them all together, and to let you in on a secret, I had paper towels in my bra all day. Meetings go longer than expected; clients/patients make unexpected visits right as you were going to pump. Leaks happen. Make sure that you have plenty of nursing pads to save you from the awkwardness of having to walk around with wet spots on your boobs. And snacks. Lots of snacks. Everyone talks about the hunger during pregnancy, but the hunger during breastfeeding has been a whole different ball game.
Move forward with work
It’s somewhat easy to prep for what you will do leading up to your return. But what happens when you are actually there? This isn’t something that I really thought too much about. I walked into what felt like a bajillion emails and 700 stacks of paper waiting for me to sift through. While there are some things you are going to have to address, try not to focus on things that happened while you were gone. Just look at what you need to do today and move forward. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself, the transition is hard enough.
“First” aren’t really “first” until you see them
If you’re like me, this is hands down the one thing you’re the most emotional about. The thought that you will miss their first crawl, walk, etc. But you know what? There is still going to be the first time you get to see your baby do those things. And those “firsts” will be just as exciting.
My last thing is be kind to yourself. This transition is hard, like really hard! But as everyone says, it gets easier. I’m only a week in and I can already tell you, it really does.
What are some things that you did to prep yourself towards the end of your maternity leave? Share with me in the comments below!