Experiences of going back to work with a 4 month old baby?(6 Posts)
I'm pregnant with my first baby, and for mostly financial reasons it is looking increasingly likely I will have to return to work full time when my baby is 4 months old.
I'm fortunate that family will be providing childcare, so I know the baby will be well looked after by people who love it, but already the thought of having to leave the baby while it's still so young is filling me with dread
I'm hoping to breast feed, but have no idea how feeding the baby will work, and I'm generally feeling very panicky and worried about the whole thing.
Any experiences, tips or advice from others who have been in similar positions would be gratefully received - the good and the bad.
I went back when mine were 12 and 14 weeks old, was many years ago and the paid maternity leave was not as long then. They were with their dad so at least I didn't have to get them ready and take them out, it was hard, I was still breastfeeding the second one, so she fed all bloody night, even though she was happy with bottles in the day, the babies didn't seem to notice to much maybe it was easier on them as they could never remember me being there all day, I wish I hadn't had to do it but the bills needed paying.
I went back to work when DC2 was 4.5mo and will do the same for DC2.
From a practical point of view I bf DC1 until he was over 2yo. It's doable to keep bf going but you'll need to find time for 2 or 3 pumping sessions a day to keep supply up if you want to continue feeding at the weekend/during holidays. If not you could keep your morning, evening and night bf and then give bottles (of your milk or formula) for when your supply can't keep up. I did the former and the weekends were sometimes a bit of a boobfest but it was doable.
From the emotional pov I couldn't have done it if I didn't have total confidence in my childcare arrangements. Your DC will not love you any less and will have the chance to build stronger relationships with the relatives who will be caring for him/her, but make sure you are 100% confident in the people you leave him/her with. Better to ruffle some feathers to get things sorted to your satisfaction than to go along with arrangements that primarily suit others.
The first few weeks back are tough but you soon find a rhythm. Don't be too hard on yourself for the first weeks back (can you do a phased return - shorter days or short weeks for a while?) and be prepared mentally for your DC to be a bit unsettled for a while until it gets into the new routine. Oh, and spend a couple of weeks before you go back getting your DC used to the new arrangements - build up the time he/she spends with the carer(s) without you (as they are relatives your DC may already be used to spending time with them, but make sure she/he is also happy spending time with them alone).
It doesn't matter much how old your LO is when you go back to work, the first few days are hard, both emotionally and also just 'tiring'.
When mine were little, 3 months was standard, and it's just what everyone did. I had a friend who took a year at that time, and she reckoned it was much harder when she went back after a year as she had got used to being a SAHM in that time, but the rest of us just had enough time to physically get over the birth and never had it 'to miss' IYSWIM
I went back at 6m with both. I bf her in the morning and when I get home from work. Initially I expressed too but now she has formula during the day. It depends on your supply but it was fine for me.
Went back a 5months with DD. Like you, she was left with family - DH and my mum. I managed to use leave to stagger my return - built up form 2 days to 4 over 3 months, which was great - I think it would have been a shock to me otherwise!
I gave up BF at 4months, because DD wouldn't take a bottle unless there was no other option. I didn't want to pump at work, as hated doing it, and also I usually worked outside of my employers premises (in various schools), so insisting on space and time to do so (as is your right) would have been awkward and invovled a lot of people! if she'd been more open to bottle, I'd probably have mix fed - formula in day, BF at night. it was shame that plan had to change, but lots of people don't get as far as 4 months with BF, so I tried not to stress about that.
I found that DD and I both coped with change better than some people I know who took a year off - I guess an older child is more aware and mum had longer to get used to not working. Only time DD showed distress was to initially start crying as soon as she saw me come home - she was fine all day, but it was if she suddenly realised I'd left her when she saw me. didn't last long though.
The only thing I remember finding really hard was that she was still waking in the night until well over a year, so I was tired, and I think that (and some issues at work), did lead to me having quite a 'down' period when she was about 8 months, but things got better. That's one reason I'd look into a staggered return if at all possible - working full time with a child still waking in the night (which is likely at 4 months) is hard.
I agree about making sure the baby is used to the other caregivers in advance - DH made more effort to be as hands on as possible from the start than some other dads I know, and we always made sure my mum had plenty of time with her and built up from leaving her with her for an hour to having a 'practice day'a week before I went back to work, so mum was clear on how the whole days routine would be, and could ask any questions that arose etc (I had a day out shopping with a friend - it was bliss, but felt very odd indeed having so much me time!)
Good luck with the new arrival!
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