Welcome Home: Week 5
Working mamas, you may be planning on heading back to the office soon, after hopefully having time to recover and be with your sweet, new babe. Getting back into the swing of work-life can be jarring, and you may run into some new challenges like pumping, and exactly how that works while you're at work. Your baby is becoming more animated now, by making eye contact with you, smiling at you, and kicking her little legs when she is happy.
Going back to work can be one of the most heartbreaking, and terrifying, times for new mamas, and we totally get it! Who would want to put down that little bundle of cuddles and coos? But like it or not, when you're headed back to your pre-pregnancy work routine that means setting up baby with a caregiver that you know and trust. Definitely take your time to find a provider or a sitter that fits with your parenting style, and will be able to give your new baby the attention and love that she needs while you're gone. Keep in mind that it will feel like no one is good enough, and that's normal! But as long as you've done your part in finding the next best thing, your sweet, little babe will be safe and sound when you get home!
If you've decided to breastfeed your baby, you're going to encounter a whole new work stress--pumping. Pumping is something that can be awkward and uncomfortable even in the comfort of your own home, let alone in an office filled with co-workers. And, it may not necessarily be set up for your nursing needs. Make sure and reach out to your employer before heading back to work to find out what you can expect as far as break time, and private space for pumping. Generally speaking, most states require that employers require "reasonable" break time to pump, as well as a designated, appropriate space to do so (i.e., not a bathroom stall or at your desk). Checking in with your HR department or your supervisor before your first day back will save you a lot of uncomfortable questions once you're back.
When it comes to actually pumping, you'll want to be efficient, clean, and as comfortable as possible. A hands-free, electric pump is generally preferred by working mamas, because it gets the job done and lets you work on other things at the same time. But, some mamas find it just as effective to use a hand pump to express milk. Either way, you'll want to make sure you bring a cooler or insulated bag for storing your expressed milk, bottles (with labels) for the milk, nursing pads, and either a towel or a burp cloth in case of spillage. Because you'll be pumping the majority of the day, you'll want to label the day and time of when you pumped on each bottle so that you can make sure to use older bottles first. If you want, you can also transfer the milk immediately from pump to freezer bags as well. Whatever works best for you, mama! Piece of advice: pump as close to when baby is eating at home so you know how many ounces you need to pump, and can stay on the same feeding scheduled as baby.
Your little one is finally mastering sweet smiles and little giggles when you do something hilarious (like sticking out your tongue). You'll notice that babe is more social and will make eye contact when you're talking or playing with him. Do your best to keep him engaged by singing to him, or playing music, to see his little legs kick, or his little arms wave around. Baby is also becoming more alert, and may be awake for about 10 hours over 24 hours. Your baby benefits from routine, just as much as you like crossing off your to-dos and keeping to your own schedule. By now, you've probably found something that works for you, so help your caregiver stay on top of that, so your and baby's lives aren't super out-of-whack when you get home. This will also help with predicting when you need to pump to match baby's eating schedule while you are away.
If you're going back to work, don't add more stress to your plate by thinking about what's going on at home with baby every second of the work day. You'll get that one-on-one time with your little bundle once you're home!