This article originally appeared on Working Moms Against Guilt.
Whether you’re pregnant, want a baby, or are home right now (exhausted) with a newborn, you’ve probably wondered what it will be like going back to work. I mean, how do people DO it?
Well, I did it, and millions of other moms have too. It ain’t easy, but it is possible.
Over the years, we’ve collected lots of wisdom and advice from many women on what it takes to go back to work like a champ. In a partnership with mimijumi, the back-to-work baby bottle brand, Working Moms Against Guilt is sharing our top tools and tips to make the back-to-work journey guilt-free for all moms. I think you’ll find this list of must-have gear and habits invaluable, whether you’re breastfeeding, formula feeding, pumping, or a combination that works for you.
Going back to work: Must-have gear
Baby bottles/nipples with the most natural feeding experience
Given my own difficult experience with breastfeeding (both kids!), I wish mimijumi had been around when my kids were babies. mimijumi provides the most natural bottle-feeding experience possible—which is why they describe their products as “Second Only to Mom.™” With a soft, life-like nipple and skin-like tone and texture, mimijumi bottles prevent nipple confusion and curtail bottle refusal among even the choosiest of babies. You can breastfeed when able and bottle feed when needed.
mimijumi’s unique design allows breastfeeding mothers to include fathers and caregivers in the feeding and bonding process, secure in the knowledge that their babies will return to the breast. And for non-breastfed babies, the bottle provides the most natural experience possible. I can’t imagine a better investment in the success of your baby’s feeding as you’re going back to work.
Quality breast pump and accessories
If you’re thinking about pumping breast milk—so you can continue breastfeeding after you go back to work or just to get a break from being the sole feeding source—make sure you have equipment that’s reliable and built to last. As Julie M. said in her Pumping at Work post, “all pumps are different and the only one I have experience with is Medela. It has a pulsating feature that is supposed to mimic let-down and after it’s on for two minutes it switches to regular pumping. About half way through each pumping session, as I was starting to get less out, I would switch back over to the initial setting that simulated let-down. Sure enough, I would have a second let-down and produce a lot more milk.”
A bag with superhero qualities
Clark Kent had his telephone booth. Jem had her magic earring. As a new mom going back to work, you will need your own gear that allows you to transform magically between your roles: mother, professional, partner, person. The key to those quick-change transformations? A really great, multifunctional, stylish but durable diaper bag. Look for one that suits your look and lifestyle, can easily accommodate the tools of your trade (from diapers to laptops and anything in between), and will allow you to go back and forth with ease.
Going back to work: Must-do habits
A healthy sleep routine for all
I don’t care what anyone says, extreme sleep deprivation does not have to be an inevitable downside for moms returning to work after maternity leave. You owe it to yourself and your child to do whatever you can to promote quality, restful sleep. Things you can do include communicating about sleep habits with your childcare provider, practicing the work-day sleep routine before going back to work, and watching out for reverse cycling. Baby sleep expert Nicole Johnson offers some wonderful sleep tips for moms in this post.
Support system in place
Gather all the help you can muster from your partner, parents, friends, neighbors, colleagues, church members, and whoever you know and trust that is willing to be part of your “village.” You will need these cheerleaders, caregivers, and assistants to help you with the juggle of parenting a newborn, managing your home, and doing your work. This was one of my favorite pieces of advice from Heather Stegal, who shared her “baby steps back to work” for her life coaching clients with us.
Communication with your employer
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re not pulling your weight or meeting the mark at work now that you’re a mom. Similar to sleep deprivation, the “new mom slide” can be avoided with strong communication and planning with your manager and team. I highly recommend going through the checklists of questions and preparation suggested by our own Lori Mihalich-Levin in her three-part series on maternity leave. In the series, she covers what to do/ask while you’re pregnant, while you’re on maternity leave, and when you’re back in the office. Excellent advice, all around.
Next month in our partnership series, we’ll share success stories of real women who went back to work after having their baby.
In the meantime, if you have any must-have gear or tips for moms going back to work, please share in the comments.