Going back to work after maternity leave
Going back to work after maternity leave was one of the hardest things I did in my thirties. One in four employed women return to work within two weeks of giving birth, reports a Department of Labor study.Being a career focused woman, I didn’t think I would have an issue compartmentalizing family and work. I was wrong. Assuming I would be able to go back to work after eights weeks, I didn’t expect the powerful sense of fear I would experience after delivery. In this article, you will read about my personal experience going back into the workforce after maternity leave.
Nursing my baby
Standing in the breast pump aisle of the biggest baby store I could find, I wondered, which one of these things was the most quiet for my office? I knew I wanted to nurse my baby, primarily because it’s good for him, but secondarily because I knew I would burn 250-500 calories a day nursing. Hoping that would help me get the excess fat off my belly and butt, I agreed to pump so I could continue to benefit the both of us. The pump would help me continue nursing my son Liam when I went back to work.
Big changes in my emotional and physical environment
Back to the fear comment. I was now constantly concerned that I would make a mistake with the baby. Being a pretty confident person, this feeling of insecurity was new and unwelcome. From concerns about engorged breasts, healing my c-section scar, the baby getting enough nourishment, etc. I was spinning. There was a complete lack of time for self-care or alone time. I was grateful to have my mom at our small home in Austin, TX. Manuel, my husband, was also home on paternity leave. However, I had company at all times and my sense of independence went away. In the days prior to delivery, I could do and go where I wanted and now I was homebound and anxious.
Being in the health industry, I never believed that pre-natal or post-natal women should diet or restrict foods unless recommended by their doctor. I wanted to nourish my body with purposeful foods but I was more hungry and searching for a quick fix. Lactation causes your body to need more calories to produce breastmilk. To accommodate, I ate whole foods including grains. I know that some moms have to restrict some foods due to sensitivities of the baby’s stomach. I kept a food log to track gassier days for my baby boy. If he was fussier one day over the next, I would assess what I ate the day before to adjust my diet. When the baby doesn’t sleep, the mama doesn’t sleep.
Part of my concern in going back to work after maternity leave was the ability to process and function in the office. With a lack of sleep, it was difficult to make decisions at home, let alone in a business setting. When the baby slept, I would shower, complete laundry or tasks at home, and catch up on personal responsibilities. My friends told me to sleep when the baby slept, but I was too busy managing life to sleep. In the nighttime, my husband would take the 2am shift and I would sleep for four consecutive hours. As my son Liam aged, the time between feedings decreased. This was helpful as I regained the energy to go back to work.
Getting back to work
The day finally came for me to return to the office and I was very sad. Even though my husband was a firefighter with the schedule to stay home and help care for our infant, I wanted to be there. I spoke to my manager about options and she introduced me to job sharing. Job Sharing is the concept in which two employees work 66% of the time for 50% of the income. Eager to start this new schedule, I had hope for a more balanced work and home life.
Pumping at work
Law requires that your employer provide a clean and private space apart from a bathroom so that you can use your breast pump at work. I pumped twice a day for 18 months, for both of my children. It is a massive commitment that doesn’t come without challenges (including daylong road trips with your co-workers) but you CAN make it work.
The benefits of being a working mom
Going back to work after maternity leave was the right decision for our family. We are a dual-income household and that extra income was needed as we started part-time child care and welcomed our second son into our family just two years later. Being a working mom allows your children to know you as a strong mom, partner, and a provider for the family. In a time that women are flourishing as leaders in business and in our country, I couldn’t be more proud of the decision I made to continue my path as a goal-oriented business person.
If you are finished lactating and ready to lose the baby weight, that is what we are here for. With a team of caregivers, the Wellthy Soul team and I will guide you. Book a free, 10-minute call with Layne today and learn more! BOOK CALL NOW.