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Returning to your job after maternity leave can be a daunting prospect. How will I feel? Will my baby be OK? She’s never taken a bottle—what if she won’t eat? Can I really pump at the office? It’s reassuring for new parents to know millions of families have done this before, and you can, too.
That’s why we’ve partnered with mimijumi, the back-to-work baby bottle brand, to share success stories of real women who went back to work after having their baby. They’re solving a major issue for working moms who breastfeed: nipple confusion from bottle feeding. mimijumi baby bottles look and feel like a real breast, giving babies the most natural feeding experience possible. I love that using mimijumi baby bottles give working moms choices: to breast feed, bottle feed, or go back and forth between the two.
I’ll get the ball rolling with my own back to work success stories (plural, because we had two children). Before my first arrived, the idea of going back to work after having a baby seemed nearly impossible to wrap my mind around—but then, so did the concept of actually being a mom. I was clueless, as most first-time parents are. But I also knew we really needed both incomes and “opting out,” as they say, was not happening for me.
Lucky for us, my husband worked from home, and managed to juggle his job with caring for our baby girl while I worked. Our childcare situation gave me great peace of mind, and allowed me to focus on my job. We eventually transitioned to a wonderful in-home caregiver, at first just one day a week, and later full-time.
With our second child, born three years later, I decided to be the one who worked at home, this time as a freelance writer and social media consultant. But guess what? Caring for a newborn while slinging copy didn’t work for me (my husband must be a better multitasker), so after a few weeks of recovering from childbirth, I sent James along with his big sister Cassie to the sitter’s house. The second time around, I really appreciated the “soft landing” of easing back to work.
I asked my fellow WMAG contributors to tell their back to work success stories, too. I hope one or more of these will resonate with you:
“I was off for 12 weeks when my son was born. While I love him dearly, by week 10 I was so twitchy to get back to work. It was hard the first day to drop him off at daycare, but knowing how much I wanted to go back to work before my maternity leave was up served to reassure me that I was doing the right thing maintaining my career. Part of being a good mom (and a good person) is personal fulfillment and satisfaction with your life. I learned then that as much as I loved my son and loved being a mom, I loved being a career woman too and I needed all of that in my life in order to feel secure with who I am.” — Jacquelyn Baker
“I had to return to full-time work when my first was 17 days old. It also happened to be my first year in my position after graduate school. I ran on little sleep, and buckets of coffee, but I continually reminded myself that 1.) I just brought life into the world—I can do anything! and 2.) It doesn’t have to be perfect. Spit up on my suit jacket—meh. Small problems. As women, and mothers, our bodies have an incredible ability to rise to the occasion. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you will be surprised at just how well you’ll do.” — Kristi Blust
Upgrade for flexibility
“I applied for a new job three weeks after returning to work that would allow me to work from home two days a week and in general just be more flexible (and it was more responsibility and money). I think we are often made to feel that we need to earn back all the credibility we had before we left for maternity leave and it isn’t true! I got that job and transitioned within a month of being back. It probably wasn’t the best timing for my sanity but it did prove that a successful post-maternity life is possible.” — Monica Froese
Setup for success
“I got my full-time job when my third kiddo was 6 months old. (Up until then I was working part-time and studying for my MBA.) There was no place for me to pump. I asked the HR lady because I was too shy to ask my male boss. The HR lady passed it on and the boss moved stuff around in the large bathroom, put in a nice white couch, and a power plug. It was pretty sweet (although I know he is required to provide a space for that). Other than that, I was so excited to finally have an official career, it passed on to other areas of my life. My boss was fine with me working six-hour days, and then make up the other two at home, at night.” — Umeda Islamova
Second time around
“With my second child, I went back to work much sooner. It was a very different experience than my first, but I actually found it enjoyable to get back into the flow of work, see friends, etc. I was also more relaxed since it was the second time around. Also, one big realization I had was that my baby didn’t comprehend time, so I knew he didn’t know how many hours he was away from me. That helped, although the guilt still snuck in a bit!” — Emily Seamone of Women, Work, and Life
More back to work success stories
If you’re looking for more individual back to work success stories, definitely check out the It’s Working Project website. You’ll find many amazing tales of moms and dads who made the transition work for them and their families. Here are few of my personal favorite quotes from IWP stories:
“I had to go back to work well before I was thinking about weaning so figuring out how I was going to work and pump and breastfeed was my biggest challenge. …I pumped twice a day to keep my supply up and to prevent engorgement. It wasn’t glamorous. …But I did what I had to do and it was worth it knowing I was able to give my baby the best.” — Ebeth J. Read her full story here.
Shortly after she had her second child, Anjali decided to start her own business, launching a children’s enrichment facility that offers classes for newborn – 6 year olds, retail, haircuts, and birthday parties. “Opening a business is like 10 kids in itself! Giving birth to a baby and a business within months of each other was one of the most stressful things I’ve done in my life.” — Anjali Varma Read her full story here.
More back to work tips
Don’t miss our earlier post with mimijumi: 6 Must-Haves for New Moms Going Back to Work. Also, click over to the mimijumi blog for more advice on bonding with your baby through feeding, busting some breastfeeding myths about milk production, and donating breast milk to certified milk-sharing banks.