Based upon company policy and/or adherence to the Family and Medical Leave Act, most new mothers choose to take maternity leave from their respective jobs to care for and bond with their new bundle of joy. Some companies give paid leave, while others do not, which can seriously affect how much time and when/if a mother will return to her job.
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I have a friend who was so adamant about not returning to her job after she gave birth to her daughter, due to its many stressors, she successfully parlayed her vacation time and summer break (she is an educator) to spend that time looking for and securing another job. She was successful in her pursuit, and after four months of being on leave from work, she returned to a new job, new company and new position to go along with her new family.
Whatever your circumstances may be when dealing with how and when to return to work after the birth of your child, here are some tips to assist with coming up with a plan of action best suitable for you, your family and your job.
1) Discuss Your Plans In Advance With Your Supervisor:
Many pregnancy websites and books suggest that mothers-to-be inform their supervisor of their pregnancy, due date and plans for maternity leave in advance so provisions and plans may be made to cover your work load while you are away. Be certain to have this conversation with your supervisor so they are not caught off guard when you have to take your time away. Also, please understand that you have the right to take leave to care for your baby, though it may or may not be paid leave. Establish and set the time that you will need away from the job, and if your supervisor is giving you any resistance to this, kindly advise HR of the FMLA.
2) Find Dependable Child Care:
Every mother I have encountered always stated that it was hard for them to leave their babies to come back to work. Their desire to remain at home was strong, though they needed to get back to the job. Help ease any tensions or stressors by coming up with child care options while still pregnant. This will allow you to vet many child care centers, providers and individuals in advance who may be caring for your little one while you are back at work. The peace of mind of knowing you have researched and made the best decision will help with the transition.
3) Prepare to Continue Breast Feeding:
If you plan on breast feeding your little one and worry about how you may continue to do so while you are at work, the Mayo Clinic suggests: “Ask about a clean, private room with an outlet for breast pumping. Consider buying or renting an electric pump that allows you to pump both breasts at once. About two weeks before returning to work, adjust your nursing schedule at home so you’re pumping at least once each day and nursing before and after your upcoming work hours. Have someone else feed your baby a bottle of breast milk to help your baby adapt. If you have on-site or nearby child care, consider the logistics of breast-feeding your baby during the workday.”
4) Seek Support:
As I work from home, I am able to assist some of my mother friends in picking up and dropping off their little ones. It genuinely takes a village to raise a child, so tap into your resources of friends and family to inquire about who may be of assistance in your transition. Rome was not built in a day, so relying on support from others should not be shunned as you will need them to help in some form or fashion.
5) Come Up With a Plan, and Stay Organized:
Every family is not organized, I get that. However, coming up with a routine and plan to put in place from waking up to bath and bed time will assist in keeping your mind calm while at work. As mothers and caregivers, most women tend to worry, just by nature. Relieve some of the stress by being prepared for anything that may come up. This includes last minute work meetings or dinners and also who is going to look after the baby if you have to bring work home.
6) Let Go of the Guilt:
I was not aware of the guilt that mothers hold on to about having to spend so much time at work until my friends started having babies, and my mother and I had a hear t –to-heart about her work about a couple of years ago. I was raised by a single mother with two children and a thriving career. Most times we were always at her office or at a meeting with her because, outside of friends, we had no other family in the city we resided in. She has held on to a lot of guilt about having to drag us along with her and/or having to put us in the care of others while she worked. The truth of the matter is; she did what she had to do to provide for her girls. Even if you have a husband and/or other family members to help you, going back to work after having a baby, or while raising children, is not easy. Know that you are doing your best for your family and maintain a positive outlook on all situations. Continue to focus on and make the most of the time you are able to spend with them, but let the guilt go.
Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.