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    Home ›› Back to work 101: A guide to returning to work after maternity leave

    Home ›› Back to work 101: A guide to returning to work after maternity leave

    Back to work 101: A guide to returning to work after maternity leave


    Reading time: 7 mins

    Returning to work from maternity leave is an important transition that both you and your little one will make together. Aside from the physical changes that your body has undergone to create your beautiful baby, you’ll also experience new emotions around returning to work.


    We’ve created this guide to help ease that first separation from your baby. In it, we will explore the various things you can expect when going back to work after maternity leave, including:


    • Emotional changes
    • How to prepare in advance
    • How to continue providing breastmilk for breastfed babies


    Remember, if you have any remaining questions or concerns, always consult with a healthcare professional such as your GP or health visitor.

    New emotional changes when returning to work after maternity leave


    First, let’s look at the different emotional changes that mums returning to work  may experience. Between the sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and being separated from your baby for the first time, you’ll also be making the adjustment from full-time mom to full-time employee.


    With a little preparation and support, you’ll soon find the right balance for you both. Here are a few helpful changes to consider and the emotional adjustments you can expect to make, starting from your first day back to work after maternity leave1:


    • Accept that you’ll miss your baby. Before returning to work after maternity leave, it’s important to acknowledge and accept that you’ll miss your baby and they’ll miss you, too. This is perfectly normal and accepting it will make it easier to understand the different emotions you may go through.
    • Enjoy extra time in the morning. Another adjustment you can make is blocking out extra time in the mornings to enjoy spending time with your baby. Plan ahead so that you have time to feed and connect with your baby before you leave for work.
    • Bring a picture or video of your baby to work. It may be helpful to look at a video or a picture of your baby while you’re pumping at work. (But more on this and other pumping tips later!)
    • Check in frequently with your child’s caregiver. Expect to make more phone calls and send more texts than before you had a baby. You’ll probably want to check in with your child’s caregiver throughout the day to make sure that everything’s running smoothly.  
    • Reconnect during breaks. If at all possible, try stopping back at day-care during your lunch break to feed your little one and enjoy that extra bonding time.

    6 ways to prepare for your first day back to work after maternity leave


    The key to transitioning back to work after maternity leave is preparation. From establishing a pumping routine and practicing bottle feeding to finding a caregiver for your baby, advanced preparation can help relieve unnecessary stress. Below are our tips to prepare as a new mum going back to work1, 2, 3:

    1. Choose the right care provider.


    For many mums returning to work , one of the most important steps is finding the right childminder or nursery for their baby. Knowing that they are with someone you’re comfortable with and trust will make returning to work that much easier.


    Tip: Whether it be a friend, a family member, a day-care centre, or a nanny, choose someone who both you and your baby will love.

    2. Know your rights.


    If you’re feeling a bit nervous about going back to work after maternity leave  and pumping in the office, rest assured that the law is on your side. According to ACAS, there is guidance in place to ensure your employer allows you to pump your milk comfortably, safely, and privately4.


    Tip: Consider speaking with your HR department before returning to work to find out your company’s policies.

    3. Communicate with your boss.


    Communication is key for you to feel comfortable before returning to work and to keep your employer informed on what they can expect from your return. Speak with your employer in advance if you plan to pump at work to establish a designated location and schedule before you return.

    4. Have your emotional and healthcare support network in place.


    Let your healthcare professional, friends, and family members know that you’re returning to work. Keeping them in the loop will make it easier for you to reach out for a chat or support if you need it. Good communication and a trusted, caring support network are key throughout every step of your journey.

    5. If you’re breastfeeding, establish your pumping routine.


    Next, create a pumping plan before returning from maternity leave. Preparation may include how often you will pump, where you will pump, and how you will pump. Here are a few top tips to help you get started once you’ve decided you’re going back to work after maternity leave:


    • In general, you can expect to pump the same amount of times as you would nurse your baby.
    • In the first few months of life, this is about eight to 12 times in 24 hours.
    • While all moms are different, pumping generally takes about 10 to 15 minutes once you’re comfortable using a breast pump.
    • To help you feel relaxed, you can bring a photo or watch a video of your baby on your phone while pumping.


    Tip: Need a breast pump before going back to work after maternity leave? Try this double electric breast pump. It helps reduce expression time, and is easy to set up, making it ideal for pumping at work. Plus, it has a soft massage cushion that gently stimulates milk flow.

    6. Introduce a bottle to your baby


    Before officially going back to work after maternity leave, try introducing a bottle to your baby. Remember that this will be an adjustment for your baby but helping them to drink from a bottle will make the process much easier when the caregiver starts feeding your baby.

    What you need

    Returning to work after maternity leave: Don’t be afraid of the bottle


    You’ve discovered that introducing a bottle to your baby is a key step in preparing yourself and your baby for getting back to work, but what if you’re exclusively breastfeeding? Here is a quick guide to using a bottle to help when you’re transitioning back to work after maternity leave:


    • Wait until your baby is a few weeks old. It’s recommended that breastfeeding mothers wait several weeks to ensure breastfeeding has been well-established before introducing a bottle5. Once your baby reaches one month, you can start giving them a bottle with your breast milk.


    Tip: If you’re in need of bottles, consider this natural baby bottle designed with a wide breast-shaped teat that allows for a natural latch. The ultra-soft teat and comfortable petals mimic the feel of the breast, making it easy to combine breast and bottle feeding.


    • You may find it beneficial to use a nipple shield. If you plan to combine breast and bottle feeding, this can help with transitioning infants between bottle and breast. This nipple shield option has an ultra-thin butterfly shape, allowing for breast contact as you nurse your baby6.
    • Don’t panic about ‘nipple confusion’. The science is still out on whether nipple confusion exists, and we know that anything that mimics mum is a good thing. With the right bottle, and a little patience you can make it easier for your baby to adapt between breastfeeding and bottle feeding to successfully combination feed.
    • Make sure you choose the right bottle. Opt for a breast-shaped bottle that recreates the breastfeeding experience, like the Philips Avent Natural Bottle with Natural Response Teat which can really help if you’re going back to work after maternity leave:

      o    The unique bottle teat and tip complement your little one's natural feeding rhythm; drink, swallow, breathe and pause.
      o    Your baby needs to actively drink, using their tongue to compress the bottle teat to release the milk flow successfully, just like at the breast.
      o    During each pause, the milk flow stops without drips, allowing a moment of calm and constant comfort before returning to active drinking.


    Like most mothers returning to work after maternity leave, you’ll most likely experience emotional changes that you’ve never felt before. However, with advanced preparation, you’re already one step ahead.


    Hopefully, this guide will help you make the changes you need and soon enough you’ll establish a routine that works for both you, as a working mum, and your baby. If you’re after more advice on navigating parenthood, read our parents’ guide which can help you on your parenting journey.

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