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Hi everyone This is my first time posting on here, and my first baby isn't even due until April. I'm a teacher and need to decide when I'm going to want to go back to work after I go on maternity. My partner is on minimum wage and my retired mum lives with us and we're pretty much dependent on my salary - it makes financial sense for me to take maternity from April to September, and go back for the new school year, and management at work would like me to do this too... the trouble is, whenever I think about it I burst into tears - I really want to breastfeed - and the thought of getting up in the morning, expressing milk, going off to an exhausting day of teaching teenagers, coming home and marking in the evening - I don't know how I will cope - September term is always so stressful anyway... Is there anyone out there who has done this? What is it like having to express milk and leave your baby at only 4 and a half months? I am freaking out, and have been worrying about it at night and not sleeping and then worrying that worrying is bad for the baby, and I'm worried that she will bond more with my mum and partner cos I will be working all the time... help! Any advice?? Jo
Oh sweetie I feel for you. I have been in exactly the same position as you. I'm the higher earner in my house and when I had des in 2010, I had to go back to work within 6 months. It was horrible and I spent the whole of my first day in tears whilst ds was at nursery 5 days a week. I'm currently on mat leave with dd and due to go back at the end on the month and oh will take the rest of my maternity leave.
I always feel guilty having to use childcare but my parents both worked full time and I turned out okay.
As a teacher you have way more holidays than me, so you wont hsve to go too long without some time off. Plus at least your baby will be with family.
Your baby will always love you so don't forget that. I know people who don't work and don't spend any quality time with their children so make sure your weekends are fun.
Firstly, breathe. It'll be ok. Honestly. It probably feels like it wont right now but you've got a lot going on in the run up to having your little one. Congrats btw. It'll be amazing. Please dont let the worry about later cloud such a special time.
You can and will find you'll cope with more than you think you can now. I had my DS in Feb and had planned to take 6 months off (knew I had to go back for financial reasons as OH out of work) but had to go back sooner at 4.5 months. I'm not saying it's easy but it'll be ok. Honestly. I've been back at work for nearly 7 months now and still express milk and my DS has been in nursery for that time. He does have a special bond with his key worker at nursery and there are days when I feel jealous of her but he knows it's me and I can see that no-one else replaces me. Hard as it is some days, the way I try to see it is that he is a lucky boy and I am a lucky mummy that he has extra people in his life who he knows well and has bonded with.
The time you spend with your baby when you get home will be special. Can you change the way you work to fit your new routine? I'm not a teacher but know some and I tendto come in from work, do bath time if I can and then get back to work for a couple of hours later. Could you do the same with marking perhaps? I also try to focus on quality time not quantity. Even if it means the house is messier than I'd like. And i have eaten a lot more fishfingers than I planned to in the last 7 months but I have spent time with DS rather than cooking.
I continue to feed - I do night feeds and express at work. It is hard going and i have expressed in all kinds of wierd and wonderful places and times but with a coolbag and some determination, it can be done. BF hormones are amazing things! I am tired, who isn't with a baby, but the hormones from feeding mean the tiredness is different to the tiredness I felt pre or during pregnancy. Your whole body shifts to cope with a different sleeping pattern of shorter, broken spells of sleep.
I know it feels overwhelming but going out to work to earn some money is providing for your baby/family in a different way. You're doing a good thing
Firstly, I am pretty sure you don't have to return at the start of a term. The school might like you to (and like to pretend you have to), but you don't have to as far as I know. So, you might want to think about going back for a couple of weeks at the end of the summer term and getting paid for the whole holidays (unless your contractual maternity pay means you will be on full salary anyway). Maybe check this out with your union?
Secondly, it will be ok (alright, I know I said that before, but it bears repeating). Maternity leave used to only be around three months. When my cousin was born 18 years ago I am fairly sure that was the standard. People managed, and so will you. Also, as a teacher, you have the great advantage that you get decent holidays. You are only ever about six weeks away from a week off with your baby (I know you will have to do some work during half terms, etc, but you get my point).
Also have a think about anything you can do to make things easier. Do you have management responsibilities that involve lots of post work meetings, or can you start bringing work home to do more in the evenings after the baby's bedtime? Knackering, but worth it to a number of my friends. Do you live close to the school? Is there any way your DP could bring the baby to you for a feed at lunchtime sometimes to ease the expressing (if I've got it right that he would be doing some of the childcare. It's sort of implied in your post).
Oh, and finally, stop worrying about the worrying. They are robust little things foetuses. All that guilt about avoiding stress is just that, pointless guilt. A mother's place is in the wrong and all that . You're not smoking crack or knocking back the gin, just having a wee panic.
Thanks for your messages - it's really helped to hear from other people who've done this I have calmed down quite a lot this week and talked to my mum and partner (who are both ace) and the NUT about it all - i know i'm in a really lucky position and should just chill out and enjoy it a bit more
You don't have to go back to work, just give your return to work as the first Monday in the holidays. I suggest you check out the pay and employment section of www.tes.co.uk and read www.tesfaq.co.uk to get up to speed on your rights under the Burgandy Book.