Back to Work

The challenges of going back to work after baby


For many new moms, this past week has been focused on getting back to work. Maybe you're just coming back from maternity leave, or maybe you're getting back to work after a long summer break, or maybe the end of summer simply finds your thoughts shifting back to work.

As a new mom returning to work, you're bound to face some real hurdles. First, there's the emotional toll of leaving your baby in someone else's care. Even if it's someone you completely trust, you may find that you're tortured with sadness and/or guilt over leaving your baby. I still remember sitting at my desk and crying for most of my first two weeks back at work after my maternity leave with Julia. Even though I wanted to go back to work. Even though I had a nanny I trusted. Even though I was working from home, just one flight of stairs away from my baby. It wasn't easy. Returning to work triggered all kinds of unexpected emotions. It's not an easy transition. But, here's our best advice on how to make it a little more smooth.

If you're breastfeeding, you'll also have the physical and logistical challenges of returning to work while nursing a baby. What if you can't find time in your day to pump? What if you feel your milk letting down in the middle of a meeting? Having a plan in place will help you ease through your workday as a breastfeeding mom. Here are some of the nuts and bolts of pumping when you return to work.

Then, of course, there's the challenge of finding reliable, responsible childcare before you can get back on the job. Whether you choose a day care center or a family-based day care option, a nanny or an au pair, or even a friend or relative, it's a good idea to think through the pros and cons of each option before you make your choice. Then, check out these resources for finding quality child care.

One of the most unexpected challenges might be coming home to your baby at the end of the day. When you walk in the door, exhausted from a long day at work, you may find it difficult to shift gears, leave work behind, and put on your mom hat. It may even feel like you're leaving one job to come home and start yet another one. Here's how to help ease the transition for you and your baby.

After a few weeks or months, you may find that going back to work is going swimmingly. Or, you might decide that it's just not working for you and your family. If you decide that you just want to stay home, here's how you might make it on one income. Or, maybe you'll simply find a way to craft a more flexible work situation that suits your family better. No matter what you choose to do, I think we can probably all agree that being a mom is the hardest, most rewarding job any of us will ever do.

Dana Rousmaniere is's Managing Editor. She loves her job almost as much as she loves her kids.