Going back to work after having a baby
Many women go back to work after they have a baby. Here are some things to think about and plan for.
- Handling your emotions. Give yourself time to get used to being back at work. You may have lots of feelings about being away from your baby. It’s OK to feel like you do. Ask your boss if you can ease back into work. Maybe you can work a few hours a day at the beginning instead of all day. Or you might be able to work a few days a week instead of 5 days a week.
- Breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding, you need a private place to pump. Employers with more than 50 employees are required by law to give you time and space (that is not a bathroom) for pumping when you go back to work. Talk to your boss before you go back to work so he knows what you need. You also need somewhere to keep your breast milk cold. Take a small cooler to work if there’s no refrigerator.
- Time off for checkups. You and your family need regular medical checkups to stay healthy. You may need to take time off from work for these checkups. Talk to your boss about taking time to visit your health care providers.
- Using harmful chemicals. Protect yourself if you work with chemicals. Also, stay away from smoking areas at your job, or ask co-workers not to smoke around you.
- Child care. It may be hard for you to leave your baby with a caregiver all day, even if it's a family member or a close friend. Talk to your partner and choose who can care for your baby. Figure out how much you can spend and what kind of care you want.
Last reviewed December 2013
Most common questions
How do I know if I have postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is intense feelings of sadness that last for a long time after having a baby. About 1 in 8 women have postpartum depression. In fact, it's the most common problem for new moms. It can happen any time in the first 3 months after a baby is born. Signs of PPD include feeling tired all the time, having no interest in your usual activities, gaining or losing weight, changing your eating habits, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, and thinking about suicide or death. If you have five or more of these signs and they last for 2 weeks or longer, you may have PPD. Tell your health care provider about your feelings. She can give you treatment that can help you feel better.
What are the baby blues?
Baby blues are feelings of sadness you may have 3 to 5 days after having a baby. These feelings most likely are caused by all the hormones in your body right after pregnancy. You may feel sad or cranky, and you may cry a lot. By about 10 days after the baby's birth, the baby blues should go away. If they don't, tell your health care provider.
What can I do to get rid of the baby blues?
Talk to your partner or a good friend about how you're feeling. It's really common to have the baby blues, and talking about your feelings may help you feel better. Get plenty of rest. It's hard to rest with a new baby to take care of! Try to sleep when the baby sleeps. Ask your partner, friends and family to help you take care of the baby and chores around the house. It's OK to ask for help so you don't feel like you have to do everything yourself. Finally, get out of the house every day, even if it’s for a short time. Don't feel like you have to stay home all day by yourself. Getting up and out of the house can make you feel energized and back in touch with the rest of the world.