Will the baby be fine with the nanny? Does your baby need more mommy time? And many other questions triggered by the mother situation can leave you overwhelmed about when is the right time to resume work post the birth of your baby. However, many factors require or compel you to leave the baby and get back to work like career, finances, child care, etc.
According to What To Expect, “Financially, staying at home (even part-time) isn’t an option for many mothers; they simply must work. To find out if you can afford to quit or reduce your hours, make a budget. List how much you require for fixed expenses — insurance, mortgage or rent, loan payments, food utilities, and so on — and how much you need for extras like dinners out. Now determine how much money you absolutely must have to be financially comfortable (with a cushion for emergencies).”
So, let us try to understand what the ideal time is to return to work without stressing your postpartum body and the requirements of your baby.
Mothers take four weeks to recover from birth especially if they have undergone C-sections. This is also the time when your baby needs several feedings in the middle of the night. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby requires around 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding. Balancing sleepless nights, with the demands of a newborn can take a toll on a new mother. However, the Nation Family Leave Law allows 12 weeks for the mother to take care of her baby before she can join work again.
Research published in the Economic Journal (2005), mentions that mothers who stayed at home with the baby for 12 weeks paid fewer visits to the doctor. Babies in the care of the mother are more likely to be diagnosed and treated instantly, preventing any health complications to go unnoticed with timely care. And the babies whose mothers went to work in less than 12 weeks scored low in cognitive test scores and showed more behavioral problems, at age 4. Thus, parents give superior care to their babies then caregivers. Hence mothers and babies should spend more time, in the beginning, to adjust to the development process of the baby and be tuned to their needs.
Demands of the Job
Women should start working under 20 hours a week once they resume work. Working more hours will lead to fatigue as the body still needs to recuperate from childbirth. Another important aspect is the nature of the job which becomes the deciding factor to resume work immediately or not. Work that demands physical activity cannot be carried out before six weeks and requires saving energy to take care of the baby once your home.
Taking too many pressures of work according to your position and work commitments can add to your postpartum stress. So, ensure you have an arrangement that lets you take breaks and has places to pump or nurse your baby. Sleeping and eating well will give you the strength to care for the baby and work without hampering your health.
Taking Care of the Baby
Leaving your baby and going to work will be the toughest thing to do considering you want to be 100% invested in bringing up your child. The idea of missing your baby’s first steps or words could dishearten your attempts at going back to work. But your baby can live without you for hours in the hands of a caretaker, as babies don’t have a sense of time. So, hire a good daycare or nanny when you eventually leave for work. Create a routine for you and the baby and stick to it, to make life easy. Pump milk in advance and store it in the fridge with date labels.
Once your home after work ensures that all other household chores take a back seat and you spend an ample amount of time with your baby. Holding your baby is very therapeutic and can help you get through your demanding job, responsibilities of a parent and simply smile at your bundle of joy. Talk to your partner or family members to help you out while you take care of the baby. Staying away for long periods does not harm the bond you and the baby share.
Plan your life according to the needs of the baby, your career goals and finances. Find a daycare close to your workplace to attend to your baby in between breaks or in case of an emergency. And most importantly be patient with the roller coaster life you are in now because it will ease as the baby grows and you will get comfortable being a working mother.