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The Emotional Roller Coaster of Maternity Leave: How to Go Back to Work

Being a new mom means you have a host of new responsibilities. For the new mom on the block returning to work after maternity leave can be a challenge, but with the right support from coworkers, supervisors, friends, and family, making the transition can be healthier for new mothers.

A new study conducted by Michigan State and Texas Christian University discovered that new mothers depend on the support from their coworkers over the support from friends and family when it comes to breastfeeding.

The stigma against mothers breastfeeding in public has been a huge source of debate in the United States over the last couple of decades. However, breastfeeding is a necessary practice that demands support in the workplace and the public. In the workplace, a new mother may experience up to 25 people in an office of 100 that do not support her breast pumping.

"If women know that co-workers and supervisors will support them in their breastfeeding efforts, it can make a big difference," said assistant professor of the College of Nursing at MSU, Joanne Goldbort.

The transition back to work is difficult enough without the threat of hostile coworkers. Taking the time to express your concerns with your boss and close coworkers could mean the difference between stopping breast pumping early and creating healthy food for the baby. Additionally, the U.S. doesn't have a mandatory paid maternity leave program for its citizens.

Some supportive coworkers have even gone so far as to donate their unused paid time off to mothers on maternity leave. After a new study published by the World Policy Analysis Center revealed that maternity leaves lasting under 12 weeks can result in higher rates of depression, some Americans are donating their vacation days to mothers in need.

To make the transition back to work easier, here are some tips for going back to work with grace.

It's okay to feel many different emotions

This is the first time you'll be away from your baby for an extended period of time. It's also the first time you'll be back at work after an extended leave. As such, it's important to calm feelings of getting overwhelmed. Pamper yourself, take a deep breath, and prepare to go through an emotional rollercoaster. Remember that it's okay to be sad.

Pamper yourself

Even though you're now in mommy-mode, you did exist as an independent person before your pregnancy. In the stress of taking care of your new baby, you may have let some things fall by the wayside including your dental health and hygiene routine. To prevent becoming one of the 47% of adults who have periodontal disease, visit the dentist and start a new teeth-cleaning regimen.

Get ready to take more time off

Babies are prone to catching a number colds, often back to back because they don't yet have a strong immune system. Many parents expect to go back to work and stay at work, but it's up to you and your partner to take your child to one of the many pediatricians or urgent cares in the area if there's a medical emergency. Children usually catch between six and ten colds per year, and babies are no exception.

Create a planned routine

A family unit will work best when everyone is on the same page and that the duties are clearly laid out. If you have to work at your office until five, it might be better for your partner to pick up the night shift. Do you have a method for doing laundry? How about a sleep schedule for when the baby cries at night? Creating a plan that prioritizes sleep and results in the best communication between you and your partner is a necessity after a baby is born.

Get a solid support network

While you might not have the type of coworkers that are willing to offer you their vacation days, it's still important to establish a network of support within the home and office. This is a stressful time and without the proper support, you can be left feeling resentful toward others and burnt out. Talk to your friends, your partner, and your boss. Many new mothers often seek therapy for dealing with issues like postpartum depression. There are ways to cope even when you feel like you have no one to turn to.

Going back to work after maternity leave is an intimidating time for the new mother. With these tips, you can get ready to take on the world again.


All children should visit the dentist every six months. Visit our sponsor, Little Smiles, in the Ashburn Virginia area.

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