• Maria Varvoutis, MPH, CD, PCD

Living Life with a Baby and a Job

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

Hello COVID, and working from home, and bOoM--baby!! You are not alone if suddenly within the midst of a pandemic you invited another member into your family. First of all, CONGRATS! It can be a huge wake-up to become a caregiver to another little person when your traditional village is not available. Let's chat about returning to work with all the nap and infant feeding schedules combined.



An amazing thing happens to a caregiver when a baby is born. You suddenly have an overwhelming desire to snuggle, kiss, and spend every possible minute next to a less than 20 pound--person! (It's okay if you don't feel this way too. Every caregiver's relationship develops at a different rate.) What I am getting at is that you may have many mixed feelings with the wake-up that you must return to either opening up your laptop every day to work, or to running off to an actual office. With this reality comes: mixed feelings, an immediate desire to suddenly sleep train the baby, and the overwhelming fact that you may need to start pumping if you haven't started yet already. Regardless of your choice of how you feed your baby, you may or may not be always able to feed your baby yourself if you are in a meeting and therefore need to have some back up options other than your own breast.


EMOTIONS


Let’s tackle those emotions first about returning to work after having your baby. It'll come. Some days will be hard, others will be seamless, and the first couple of days to weeks back may seem endlessly difficult. After spending a lot of time with your new baby it can be daunting and scary to spend all day away from them.

‘How are they doing?’

’I wonder what they are doing right now?’

’Do you think they giggled at the park?!’


PUMPING


Let's talk about how to implement breastfeeding and pumping into your day BEFORE you start working. Your milk supply is the highest in the AM hours of the day, so it is always recommended to start pumping after one of your morning feeds in the beginning. Depending on when you are returning to work you may start pumping once a day, or you can pump for 20 minutes after you breastfeed your baby, after each feed. Please remember that your body will supply as much as you are requesting so you may start to feel engorged unless you keep up with this breastfeeding and pumping schedule. I would highly recommend that you consult with a CLC or IBCLC in your area that can work with your breastfeeding goals and return to work schedule in order to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.

If neither of these consulting routes is an option for you, I would highly recommend checking out these resources through KellyMom. Not only is this an amazing website for all breastfeeding questions, but this list of questions and/or links for pumping and returning to work is GOLD and FREE.


FEEDING OPTIONS


You may also want to start researching baby formulas as a backup option for a crazy day/week. A great chart comparing SO many formulas can be found here, here, and here. It doesn't hurt to have some formula on hand even if you never use it.


Bottles? Yup, you may not find the perfect one right away either. That's okay. From a lactation counselor point of view, I have been trained to NOT point you towards bottles that advertise to be 'like the breast'. These nipples may not be best for your baby; however, like most baby things, it is whatever works for you and your baby! What I can recommend is that you buy 1 or 2 different brands and see which one your baby latches onto better.


SLEEP


Sleep training is a VERY tricky subject. As this is literally one of the biggest money makers of the baby industry, I am not going to endorse any one way, but rather am going to state that you are your baby's caregiver, and you know your baby best. If you feel that your baby is ready for sleep training, then do it. If you don't feel that your baby is, then don't. Please keep this in mind when reading other ads and promises delivered by sleep coaching companies.


What I will always encourage is that you start recognizing your baby’s sleep routine and nap habits. Start by writing down when naps start and end and implementing the same routine for every nap and at nighttime. For example, this routine can be as simple as changing the diaper, snuggles/reading time, lights dimmed, sound machine on, and closing the door to the room. It has been statistically proven that babies crave a routine and will slowly adapt to whatever routine you set them on. From professional and personal experience some babies will adapt faster than others.


If you are looking for a way to start tracking your baby's natural rhythm, there is the Huckleberry app. I can also recommend that you check out the tips and advice of 'Taking Cara Babies'. Whether or not you decide to use her sleep program is up to you, but there are so many great resources found through her Instagram and website. I have had so many caregivers state that this is an indispensable resource. From tips on bedtime routines, witching hours, nap schedules, etc. it can give you some peace of mind to know that you're not alone!

 

In conclusion, we have briefly gone over the fact of the matter that you will need to feed your baby is some manner after returning to work and that you may want to start recognizing some sort of sleep and bedtime routine in your family to help with drop-off, pick-ups, and/or nanny care. Returning to work and leaving your precious baby in the care of another can be daunting and scary.


Leave me a comment below or contact me on how it’s going! I always answer my messages and always offer complementary doula consults.


All the best,

Maria

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