Back to work after maternity leave made easy for new moms

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As a new mom, following the birth of your baby, your previous life as a single person can seem far removed from your new roles and responsibilities of parenthood. Pre and post maternity leave is the bridge that supports you in learning how to manage both roles as you prepare to return back to work.

Now that you have incubated your little sprout over 9 months of gestation, given birth – a miraculous event of delivering new life into the world – and you have bonded, breastfed and become a bona fide mom to your precious newborn baby at your side… there is no other way of saying it, transitioning back to work after parental leave is going to be a challenge.

‘Baby brains’, related to hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, stress, or brain changes during pregnancy, are very real for some new moms and added to that; you have been absent from your job and the office action for weeks and maybe months.

Millions of new moms have successfully returned to work, however, and there is no reason you cannot step into your Super Mom shoes and succeed at housekeeping, child-rearing, and a full-time job with the help of these effective tools and advice from moms who have journeyd the path before you.

 

The Struggle to Juggle

Your return to work will be as a changed person with a whole new set of priorities and concerns and lots of new logistics with which to manage your time and focus. You will have to consider child care, co-ordinate partner schedules, set feeding and breast pumping timetables, as well as manage your own emotions which can range from anticipation, to guilt for leaving your baby, to full-blown separation anxiety.

Studies reveal that most mothers enjoy the work they can achieve outside their household (71%), either to support an income for the family (56%) or because they want to further their careers (25%), however some new moms may experience difficulties reconnecting to the new work-life balance , take strain from the mental demands of an 8-hour work day together with the responsibilities of a new child, or find barriers to climbing the corporate ladder and advancing their careers with baby in tow.

While some women turn to entrepreneurship and a home-based business to gain more flexibility and hands-on control for their family, at the end of the day, as a new mom you are going to be levelling up and learning new skills to grow and shine!

 

Check off this list of practical tips, mom-hacks and professional tools for leverage to get your back-to-work lifestyle started off on the right foot. Before you go back to work:

Embrace Every Challenge: Having the right tools to soothe and protect your breasts makes it easier to stay comfortable and continue breastfeeding, which is so vital to your child’s growth and a healthy immunity. This is also the time to get expert level at breast pumping each day as you will need to build up your supply of frozen breastmilk ahead of your return to work. Breastmilk can last up to six months stored in the freezer so now it is time to get milking. The Natural Motion Technology of the Philips Avent Electric Breast Pump is inspired by baby’s natural suckling and with a quiet motor it provides for a discreet experience wherever you may be, offering a perfect balance of suction and nipple stimulation to allow for optimum milk flow. Their manual breast pump is just as practical, comfortable, and convenient to use. If your nipples are taking strain from breastfeeding by becoming raw, cracked or painful, find instant relief with a nipple shield from Philips Avent, which protects with a nipple shield that is shaped to allow skin contact.

Hand Over That Bottle: If you have been breastfeeding your new born until now, you will need to introduce your baby to bottle feeding at least three weeks ahead of your return to work. You will also need to introduce others to sharing the duty of feeding, so your baby becomes accustomed to someone else providing their feeds.

Whatever you do, try not to give up on breastmilk feeds. They benefit both your baby and you as breastfeeding and pumping supports your uterus to shrink and return to its pre-pregnancy size. Philips Avent’s natural baby bottles feature a soft breast-shaped teat which encourages a natural latch and mimics the feel of the breast, making switching between breast and bottle as smooth as possible. Another benefit is the teat’s spiral design petals naturally flex so the teat does not collapse during feeding and offers an anti-colic valve to reduce colic.

It is important that both you and your child’s caregivers understand the importance of sterilising all feeding equipment. Bottles need to be cleaned after every feed and if your baby does not finish drinking a bottle within two hours, the contents must be discarded to prevent bacteria and other germs from forming.

Choose your tools in baby hygiene and germ destruction with the Microwave Steam Steriliser from Philips Avent which is fast and convenient, sterilising six bottles in just two minutes. Their 3-1 Bottle Steriliser is another fast and easy way to clean baby’s utensils, killing 99.9% of germs and makes for flexible bottle cleaning. The Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer is another useful tool to support the whole family, as well as your caregivers, it gently defrosts breast milk and warms milk and food in just three minutes to be ready for feeding.

Introducing Solids: Usually around six months of age, your baby is ready for the first introduction of solids, however there are no hard and fast rules and your instincts as a mother will come into play. You will know when your child is interested in solids when they respond with a wide mouth and take the food offered, either palming or gumming their fingers versus turning their head away in an uninterested way.

Start your little one off on solids using the typical schedule below, perhaps giving them an appetiser of breastmilk to start off the meal so they are not too hungry to settle and experience new foods. The Philips Avent bottles feature both ounces and millilitres on either side of the bottle for easy measuring and both their Classic and their Natural range of bottles and teats feature different numbers of holes that give your baby an optimised flow of milk as they grow, from First flow and Newborn, to Slow, Fast and Thick flows.

 

Back At Work

Absolutely Fabulous: One of life’s easiest hacks is that when we look good, we also feel good. Get up and dress up for work each morning; if you are feeling uninspired, black always looks in style and is slimming and when paired with a bright red lipstick and set of heels, you will be ready for business, even if your baby mood is still lingering.

Support yourself by getting early nights and adding a self-care routine to the day, as well as some light exercise, even if it is just a yoga class once a week or a daily walk around the block to clear your head.

Ladies Luggage: Get a suitable-looking bag to store and carry your breast pump with you to work. Include some wipes to clean up spills when pumping and a photograph of your baby so your let down reflux can kick in under those glaring bathroom fluorescent lights. If your milk flow is strong, you may want to pack in a spare bra and work shirt to hide the escaping evidence.

Be direct at work about your needs and ensure your colleagues understand why you may be away from your work station for 20 minute intervals during the day. If there is no work refrigerator to store your breastmilk after expressing, take a cooler lunch bag and ice packs to keep it adequately chilled until you get home.

Circle of Support: If things are not working for you by being back at work, be able to admit there is a problem, by speaking with your boss or the human resources department and finding solutions together, such as a work-from-home option or a 3-day work week until you are able to find your feet again. The Philips Avent Baby+ App is the most complete baby tracker app to track your baby’s growth, capture each precious moment, monitor your baby’s daily routine, help your baby relax and support you through parenthood.

Working Mom Guilt & Separation Anxiety

Trusting and handing your newborn child over to someone else to care for as you return to work can be daunting for even the most independent mother, but trust that it is also a normal part of your child’s development.

New mum Rayne (28) gave birth to baby Violet just as South Africa went into hard lockdown due to onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. “I’m certain I single-handedly manifested the whole pandemic so I didn’t have to return to work after maternity leave,” she laughs now. “At the time, I had so much anxiety about having to return to the office and leave her behind, that the lockdown helped me to integrate more easily into managing both work and family demands.”

Three years later, Rayne and Violet continue to thrive with parenting schedules that dovetail, and good family and community support. “It helped to have a medical professional assure me that my separation anxiety was a sign that my mother-baby attachment system was working well,” says Rayne. “When I did return to work, I learned to stay calm when saying goodbye, so she wouldn’t sense I was upset. I also began to focus more on the quality-over-quantity element when spending time with her which really put my mind to rest.”

Take your confidence with you when its back to work for new moms with the professional care and support of Philips Avent South Africa for a healthy start and a healthy future.

Stockists: Baby City, Woolworths, www.dischem.co.za, Babies R Us or online at www.takealot.com or www.medhealthsup.com

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