BENGALURU: Just when you’re starting to get used to the whole new mother phase of your life, like getting up at 3 am for nursing or changing nappies along with handling some house chores throughout the day, it’s time to get back to the corporate world.
This is the moment when you start doubting yourself- will you be able to deal with the strict deadlines, crazy work hours and let’s not forget, the anxiety and guilt of leaving your baby alone in the care of someone else. With a bit of planning and preparation, getting back to work can be a smooth, comfortable and happy journey for both you and your baby.
Here are a few tips to help all new mothers get back to work:
■ Managing breastfeeding goals and office: A major concern women have is that they may not be able to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. This is the primary reason why many women either don’t get back to work or quit breastfeeding. Don’t be shy about initiating the discussion with your employer. One can always consult their manager on work travel by providing feasible alternatives such as a teleconference. She can also speak with the HR on breastfeeding/pumping facilities at work.
■ Separation anxiety – Handling it on your own: Leaving your baby will be difficult in the initial stages. The teary eyes and the tiny hands reaching out to you will not make it easy. Try to get a transition device such as a pillow or toy for the baby. To ease the stress of not being around your baby, keep a photo on your desk. Always remember to stay away from the misconception that working outside the home will hamper your child’s development. There’s no scientific evidence that suggests that children are harmed when their mothers work outside the home.
■ Both parents need to make a schedule: It is crucial to emphasise the role of fathers in both parenting and support to the wife. They should be able to anticipate their partner’s needs, encourage their partner to do their best, especially while nursing and be present always. At the times of nursing, fathers can store the expressed milk and give it to the baby when the mother is at work. Practical support strategies can be assistance with meal preparation, household chores, bathing the baby and bringing the baby to the mother for night time feed. Ensure the family members do not confuse the mother with myths and outdated ideas.
In fact, a breastfeeding mother whose partner supports her by taking care of household responsibilities is likely to be more successful and keep breastfeeding longer. They feel better about pumping and banking milk when they return to the workplace, and they have more confidence in their breastfeeding abilities. Fathers are increasingly playing the role of baby transporter by taking care of the baby’s burping, diapering and cuddling post feed.
■ The right person/place, at the right time: If your family is unable to support you by taking care of your child in your absence, you might need the services of a nanny or a creche. Entrusting someone with the task of caring for your baby can be challenging. Do a good background check on their employees and make sure you ask for referrals from other parents. It is very important to do everything in your strength to make sure your baby will be safe.
■ Guilty as charged: There will always be those moments when you are suddenly hit with a rush of guilt for leaving your baby in the care of some stranger. Worry not, as this is a very normal thing. Checking up on your baby with the caretaker might give you mental peace but remember too much might push the buttons of both the caretaker and your colleagues. A call every 3 to 4 hours will keep you relaxed.
■ Rest up: Being a working mother is doing two full-time jobs. The only way to do your best at both is to get a good amount of rest. Make sure when you are home, you are sleeping when your baby is sleeping. Try to ensure that you have someone to help you with household chores including washing clothes, cleaning the house or even cooking for that matter. A mother requires empathy and compassion from family and fellow colleagues to ensure she can maintain an adequate balance between work and personal life. The author is a child health educator, lactation consultant and part of Medela India LC Club.