During your maternity leave, you devote every second of the day to caring for baby. So when the time comes for you to return to work, your heart may begin to feel heavy. You know you will miss baby a lot and you certainly dread the possibility of having to go through all the work stress again.
Nevertheless, with the way life goes for most people these days, you will most probably have no choice but to hop back into the rat race again. Be prepared to change your current daily routine and leave baby in the care of someone else for about 8 hours a day. You may wince at this thought but remember, there is always a first time to everything. You will soon learn to achieve a balance and get used to being a working mum.
Although you may feel as if you are walking on a tightrope, try to keep your chin up and assure yourself that you are doing the best you can. Nobody ever said that being a working mum is a piece of cake. You are likely to experience some hiccups along the way. However, with good preparation, you and baby will get comfortable with this new way of life in no time. If possible, let the man of the house help in any way he can as well. He certainly has a share in the baby too! Remember, no matter what changes you may have to make to your life as a working mum, your baby’s love for you will never change (and your love for him too!).
Your baby is naturally close to you.
He may cling on you when you try to put him down, or cry inconsolably if he is put with someone else. However, even a clingy baby will eventually become independent. Whether you leave baby with a babysitter, your parents, your inlaws or in a day-care centre, here’s what you can do to make babysitting easier for everyone, including baby:
Get to know each other.
Try to get baby acquainted with the caregiver about two weeks before you send him over. This way, baby will not get overly upset during the first few days when you leave him at the caregiver’s.
Never too young.
Always tell baby when you have to go out, even if he is too young to understand. Do not just sneak out to avoid a scene.
Do not rush.
Once you have left baby with a caregiver, do not rush to leave even if you are in a hurry. Spend some time cuddling him and reassure him that you will be coming back.
Have fun time.
Show the caregiver which are baby’s favourite toys. Also, teach the caregiver how to play the games baby likes to play.
Bring comfort toy.
Most babies are attached to a favourite soft toy, blanket, pillow or any other objects. He may want to carry it around wherever he goes because it gives him comfort. So let baby bring it with him to the caregiver’s.
Know baby’s habits.
Make sure the caregiver knows every detail of baby’s special habits.
Keep an eye.
During the first few weeks when you are back at work, keep a careful eye on baby. If he seems generally unhappy, you may need to reconsider your childcare plans.
Breastfeeding for the Working Mum
Breast milk is best for baby. But if you are going to spend about 8 hours a day working in the office, how are you going to continue breastfeeding and keep your milk supply up and going? Here are some tips on how you can ensure that baby continues to enjoy the benefits of breast milk while you are at work:
Before returning to work
Talk to your paediatrician, dietitian or nutritionist on how you can combine breastfeeding with work. Take the opportunity to discuss any concerns or problems you may have.
Learn to express.
Spend time to learn how to express milk efficiently by hand or using a pump. If you are still not sure, ask your lactation consultant to teach you.
You should start practising at least two weeks before going back to work. Soon, you will be more confident and become quicker.
Spend time ‘training’ baby to help him get used to expressed milk. Try getting your husband or close relative to start giving him expressed milk once a day and increase the frequency gradually for about two weeks before going back to work.
If possible, get your caregiver to practise feeding baby expressed milk with a bottle, a small spoon or a small cup.
When back at work
Let others know.
It is advisable to let your relevant superiors and colleagues know that you will have to express breast milk while at work. Let them know which room you will be using. The privacy will help.
Express milk as regularly as you can, or at least every 3 to 4 hours, to maintain your milk supply. Try to let these times concide with your lunch or tea breaks.
You can store your milk in bottles and keep them in the office refrigerator. Remember to label them with time and date. Alternatively, you can keep your bottles on your desk for up to 8 hours without worrying that they will spoil. Just remember to bring the bottles home with you. Make sure you go home straight after work and put the milk in the fridge right away. Milk stored in the fridge should be used within 48 hours of storage.
It is best to wear two-piece outfits with lightweight, front-buttoned tops. To avoid embarrassing stains, line your brassiere with breast pads.
Take every opportunity to breastfeed.
Try to make breastfeeding a routine before work, after work and before bedtime each day. This can help strengthen the bond between you and baby, while helping you maintain a good and steady milk supply.