“Your baby is due in a few weeks, and you have begun your maternity leave. As you clean out your desk, you wonder “Will I ever return? Should I return? Do I have to? Do I want to?” – Excerpt from The Baby Book
For the many women in this quandary who do NOT have a choice and must return to work after six weeks, here are some suggestions to help you balance work and being an attached parent.
Talk to your employer.
Obviously, your employed knows you are pregnant and will be away from work for a period of time. Make sure they respect that time and do not try to call you and pester you with work related questions while you are learning the ropes of being a new parent.
Also, if you plan to breastfeed and will need to pump while you are at work, try to make arrangements for you to do so comfortably and with some privacy. See if you can have a chair and small table in the restroom or break room (wherever you would be most at ease).
Without running the risk of getting fired, ask if it would be okay to have a few more minutes at lunch so you can either run home to see your baby or to your day care provider, whatever the case may be. You could plan to eat on the run with a packed lunch, see your baby for long enough to nurse and head back to work.
The more you communicate your plans with your employer and co-workers, the easier your transition will be when you return.
Make the most of your maternity leave.
Try not to dwell on the day you will return to work and allow your wandering mind to rob you of those incredible weeks bonding with your baby. During those few weeks, however many you may have, practice as many attachment concepts as you can. Breastfeed, wear your baby and co-sleep.
Allow yourself to get “hooked” on your baby and vice versa. Listen to your instincts and allow your baby to help you develop your nurturing skills. In these early weeks, it is impossible to love your baby too much or to “spoil” them. Hold, touch and connect with your baby as much as possible.
Reconnect with you baby when you return to work.
Most likely, when you come home from work, you baby will only have an hour or two before it is time for bed. If you have chosen to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, this in of itself will help maintain that special bond you worked so hard to establish in those early weeks.
Wear your baby in a sling or wrap while you make dinner or tidy up. Or if Dad has taken on some of these duties, then take this time to relax with your baby. Lay on the floor with your infant and gaze into each others eyes, reconnect after a long day apart. Take advantage of the weekends to be fully present and be a mom (and dad). Wear your baby as much as possible, continue to co-sleep if that works for you.
Use technology to stay connected.
A web cam is a great way to check in on your baby if your daytime care giver can accommodate this type of thing. If that doesn’t work, then call and let your baby listen to your voice, even though they can’t see you, a baby knows his mother’s voice.
Telecommuting may be an option for you to work part time from home and part time from your office. Maybe a flextime schedule would be possible so you and your spouse can work out a plan so your baby is with one of you at all times.
Does your employer offer on site child care? Even better. In some cases you can bring your baby to work and set up a playpen and even wear your baby while you work.
Of course every situations is unique and you have to find the balance between parenthood and making a living.
Just know that it is okay to miss your baby and even to get emotional when you think about him during the day, try not to fight this, for that will breed detachment. As painful as it may be in the beginning, feeling torn and emotional is a sign that you are truly connected with your baby which is something to be proud of and to embrace.
I commend all parents who are dedicated to practicing attachment parenting while having to work at the same time. Truly, working parents and their babies are those that can benefit the most from AP.