Returning to work after your maternity leave can be just as stressful for mom as it is for baby. Some mothers are lucky to take as much as six months off work, while others have to return almost immediately. Either way, the letting go, even if only for a few hours a day can be daunting. This is especially true if you’ve spent every waking second with your child.
Over the years, there has been much debate on whether going back to work within the first year of baby’s life is detrimental to his wellbeing. Previous studies had painted a bleak picture for working moms, suggesting that returning back to work before baby’s first birthday was hindering baby’s development.
However according to the latest study, first published in 2010, researchers at Columbia University say they can rebuke these claims. The authors of the study are among the first to have measured the full effect of moms employment on their child’s development. Their study considers the potential harm and advantages that come with mom being employed. According to the study, “the overall effect of 1st year maternal employment on child development is neutral.”
Makosa Phetla — like most moms is unsure about the transition. “I personally feel guilty about even going to the bank while he is home with granny. My son only wants breast milk so I’m not sure what I’m going to do in September.”
What’s a working mother to do?
Firstly, mom has to start planning for her first day back at work. That ultimately means beginning the overwhelming process of finding the right person to look after your baby.
Finding the right nanny
Notice the word right. Sure, you can find a nanny, but is she the right one for your child. In mommy circles this is usually the centre of conversation and sleepless nights. You want to find a nanny you can trust to make the right choices for your baby when you are not there. This obviously means finding someone with experience and a good track record. Referrals are the best way to find her –or him.
Leave baby with nanny before the big day
Practice leaving your baby with his caregiver before your first day. In this way everyone gets a practice round. Not only does this allow time to observe your child’s interaction with his nanny, but you also practice being away. This is also a great opportunity for mom and dad to relax and enjoy some alone time together.
Expect tears — on both sides
There will be tears from both baby and you. You and baby are going to miss each other incredibly during the day and guess what — it’s perfectly normal. If you really need to weep, make sure it’s in the bathroom and not in the boardroom.
“My son and I had to part at six months, says Neo Mangope. ” We tried leaving him with the nanny but concluded it wouldn’t stimulate him as much as attending crèche.” Leaving him there in the mornings was daunting at first but eventually Neo’s baby started waving goodbye.
Stay On Top of the Work
The last thing you want to be accused of is having a bad case of porridge brain — even if science supports this condition to an extent. You want your employer to be excited to have you back and not the other way around. They’ve waited for you all this time, so make sure it was worth it.
Talk to other moms
Your mommy friends are the best people to ask for advice. They have been down the road you’re travelling and they have their own experiences to share. They will tell you it gets easier with time and that you are not a bad mother for wanting to make your own money or further your career.
To Express or Not To Express
Your baby can continue drinking breast milk even while you’re at work. If you decide to continue breastfeeding then you will have to express milk so that you don’t compromise on supply. Identify a private space, an effective pumping machine and storage space. You can pump manually as well.
What does the Law Say about Maternity Leave?
In South Africa pregnant mothers are entitled to at least four consecutive months of maternity leave. Moms aren’t permitted to return to work within six weeks after the birth of their baby unless their doctor or midwife says it is safe. According to the Department of Labour, a pregnant or nursing mom may not do work that is unsafe for her or her child.
Motherhood doesn’t have to signify the end of your working life. You are still an individual. If you love your job it will be easier to go back.