Returning to Work after Having a Baby

If your maternity leave is over and you have started work, take extra good care of yourself. The first 2–3 weeks back at work are similar to the first 2–3 weeks after your baby was born; you may feel overwhelmed, exhausted and fragile. Learning to combine motherhood and work is not easy and will be draining for a little while.

Get through the first few weeks back at work as you did when your baby was a newborn. Go to sleep early and cut back on all activities except going to work and caring for your baby. Cook and freeze meals in advance and let the housework go. Let your family and friends know that you need extra help and support, just as you did when your baby was born.

If you are breastfeeding, nurse your baby just before you leave for work (or at your childcare center) and as soon as you are reunited. Pump your breasts at least twice for every 6–8 hours you are apart. With a hospital-grade electric pump (rent one from a hospital, lactation consultant or pharmacy), you should be able to pump 8–12 ounces of milk in two 20-minute pumping sessions in an 8-hour workday—more than enough for your baby’s needs the next day.

Frozen stores of breastmilk from your maternity leave or that you pump on the weekend can serve as a backup when your baby has a growth spurt or you wish to go out for an evening.

See also ...

• More about taking care of yourself when it’s time to return to work.

What to look for—including during the COVID-19 pandemic—in a childcare provider and/or facility.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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