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Going back to work 6wks after birth

(36 Posts)
Mouseybrown Wed 02-Dec-09 11:03:00

Advice needed please!

I'm going to be a first time mum in the summer, but I am the wage earner in our family and will need to go back to work when the higher rate maternity pay runs out (6wks).

HB will not be working and will do pretty much full time childcare with me doing a bit in the evenings so he can sleep. The theory is that I'll sleep at night with earplugs in so I have brains to do my job.

I know breastfeeding is a good idea but can't see how we can possibly do it with me at work all day.

Am I mad to think this is going to work? Has anybody else out there done this? Am I going to be in a fit state 6wks after?

I do realise its probably not the best for the baby but neither is having no home though not paying mortgage!


seeker Wed 02-Dec-09 11:13:51


The trouble is that you can't really know how you're going to feel - it takes some people longer to recover physically than others and there doesn't seem to be any way of predicting. My super fit young sil was still struggling physically after 10 weeks - I am old and fat and was absolutely fine physically after about a fortnight. So you MAY have to have some sort of contingency plan just in case you're not physically up to it. You'll probably be fine, but an unexpected caesarian or something might throw a spanner in the works.

About breastfeeding. Yes it's the best - but even if you only do it for a few days it gives the baby lots of the immunities and stuff. And hundreds of babies are formula fed and do brilliantly, so I wouldn't beat yourself up about that.

And as for him indoors doing the baby looking after, that sounds perfectly fine. Be prepared to be consumed with jealousy, though!

violethill Wed 02-Dec-09 11:58:43

If this is what you need to do, then you'll do it. I wouldn't over-think it, or agonise, because if there is no alternative, then what's the point of beating yourself up emotionally?

On a positive note, I think the reason most people will probably Gulp! as seeker did, is because these days many people take an entire year off on ML, and therefore 6 weeks is very short in comparison. However, the year, or even 6 months, is a relatively recent thing. When I had my first, everyone I knew, me included, returned at 12 weeks, because maternity leave was only paid for 3 months. You could take an additional 3 months in some circumstances, but interest rates were so shockingly high compared to now that no one I knew did. It didn't seem strange at the time, because so many of us did it. Times have changed, which makes it harder for you as you feel a bit more 'on your own' about it, but that doesn't mean it's in any way a problem.

You also have one parent at home full time anyway.

As for the physical side - unless you have complications, there is no reason why you shouldn't be fine within 6 weeks. And it's perfectly possible to combine bf with working - again, very common back along, when we returned to work with younger babies. It is tiring, so be prepared for that - but then you're lucky as you won't be having to get the baby up and out to a childminder first thing, so that'll help.

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 02-Dec-09 12:31:39

I went back to work when dd was just 3 months old, as that was the norm back then, and it was absoluteley fine. You are fortunate as you have the dad at home, I had a brilliant and much loved childminder (luckily) and although it was a wrench I think it was probably easier to go back after such a short break as opposed to going back after a year.

I must admit that I stopped breastfeeding when I went back to work, as I could not see how it would work practically. However this was 14 years ago and there was little support for expressing, I am sure that you would find that there would be more support in the workplace for this now. However, if you chose not to I wouldn't worry too much about it, breastfeed for as long as you can, but if you have to stop when you go back to work, fine.

I think there is no point in getting upset about having to go back - OP you sound pretty no-nonsense like I was, it was simply the matter that I had to go to work, or the bills wouldn;t get paid, and I would have to go on benefits (dd's father had buggered off). That was not what I wanted to do so back to work I went.

You may feel that you will have to develop a bit of a rhino hide, you will undoubtedly get comments about beibg back to work so soon, all the heartless mother stuff.

One thing which helped me - as I wasa out at work all day, dd co-slept with me for the first couple of years, I think having the physical contact at night which we do not have during the day really helped.

mama2moo Wed 02-Dec-09 12:33:18

Hi Mouseybrown, I have no experience of this but your thread got me thinking.

The way I see is is that you are very lucky that you will your dp at home looking after your lo. He can meet you for lunch and you can phone/text him as much as you want.

Can you be flexible with your hours? I work part time but go in before dd is awake in the mornings and finish earlier so that I get more time with her.

I would start saving every spare bit of cash you have so that you could take extra if you need to.

Also, you should still accrue holiday when you are maternity leave so you will have that to use aswell.

I formula fed my dd from the start as at the time breast feeding wasnt for me. She is a very healthy 18mo now and I dont regret my decision for a second.

I dont think stay at home dads is that much of a shock these days. A lot of women I know have left work even though they earnt more then their dps and they struggle like mad.

I hope it works out for you and Im sure once you are all in a routine it will be great smile

GetOrfMoiLand Wed 02-Dec-09 12:33:27

To add to the above physically I was 100% after 6 weeks (mentally all over the place though, brain took longer to get back to normal than my stomach muscles did).

foxinsocks Wed 02-Dec-09 19:08:18

it's knackering - the thing about breastfeeding is that you'll need to do it at night with a newborn and that would disturb your sleep so I'd be tempted not to do it. You'd also have to pump a lot during the day tbh. You could always start doing a little bit but mix feed (bottles and breast).

I went back to work pretty early - I knew I had to so you do just get on with it. I do remember being totally knackered but if you have to get on with it, you do. I went to bed at 9pm for the first few months but both dh and I were working full time so I was still getting disturbed at night which made a huge difference to how I was feeling.

Also, I don't want to be negative, but things can go wrong (with birth etc.) so make sure you have thought what will happen if you are physically not well enough to return after 6 weeks. Not wanting to cast doom but sometimes better to make sure you've considered as many possibilities esp when your salary is so key.

twinklytoes Wed 02-Dec-09 20:52:26

how will that work with giving notice of return to work? isn't it now 8weeks notice if returning under the 12mths? not sure you'd be able to say you'll return two weeks before delivery?

I would save as much annual leave as you can and tag it onto the end and only take time off if its sick related before starting mat leave.

dontrunwithscissors Wed 02-Dec-09 21:08:43

I found bf my DD such hard work - not just tiring, but I also held on to all the weight I'd gained during pregnancy (it dropped off me as soon as I stopped). Worst of all was the fact that the hormones made me a bit crazy. I couldn't concentrate, was highly emotional and just not myself. I didn't make the connection until I stopped bf, when I felt the old 'me' return straight away. I'm pro-bf, (and plan to bf DC2 whenever she turns up), but I'm not someone who enjoys it. I know I couldn't do it if I had to return to work. (I'd probably aim for 4 weeks and then move on to formula.) Of course, you have no idea how you will react-everyone's different. The first couple of weeks after the birth of DD were hard, but I was pretty much back to normal by 4 weeks.

Good luck - it will be tough, but it will improve in time.

seeker Wed 02-Dec-09 21:24:46

You know, I am the most militant breast feeding supporter I know, but in this case, even I think that it's adding an extra stress, which you really don't need. You need to be able to do your job well, and I'm not sure that bf hormones are conducive to this. I would feed to the first 4 weeks, when it's MOST important to tbe baby, then switch.

WilfSell Wed 02-Dec-09 21:31:42

If you want to breastfeed though, your employer ought to provide facilities for you to express - access to a private space, and fridge storage ideally. But in small organisations this is often difficult.

You might well be able to express twice or three times a day if you have two breaks plus a lunchbreak but you will spend a lot of time doing this. I did it with DS1 when I went back to work at 4.5 months, and kept up expressing like this for about 3 months. And fed him in the evenings.

At 6 weeks though, you could still be quite physically vulnerable - it all depends on how your labour goes. I had sections and a difficult time establishing BF (certainly wasn't right even at 6 weeks) but not everyone has such a rough time.

Can you save some money now to give you a bit more breathing room?

CMOTdibbler Wed 02-Dec-09 21:33:48

I'd def save all of your annual leave that you can and take it at the end of your maternity leave - even a few extra weeks will make a big difference in the way you feel physically.

Give breastfeeding a go, and see how it works out - I went back to work ft (and DS in nursery) when he was 18 weeks old, and bf him exclusively to 6 months, and continued till 23 months. TBH, expressing gave me a break during the work day and a chance to sit down. I fed in bed and co slept part time, so it wasn't too tiring to bf at night.

But if you can feed and pump for long enough to establish a supply, you could try mix feeding too

K75 Wed 02-Dec-09 22:49:02

Just to say good luck; also main earner and fortunately got 3 months full pay; so did 3 months with first and 4.5 with second. Just remember a 6 week old is still really hard work; 3 months much easier. They tend to have a big growth spurt at 6 weeks; so if it feels tough it will get easier. I swapped to breast feeding a week before I went back with DD1 and a month with DD2; was such a miserable process wanted it out for the way but both have been v v healthy compared to peers so convinced that little bit really helped them.

It's doable. Be prepared for lots of commentary; people look at me in horror when I say I am going back and then they say "Part time?" like it's a retorical question; when I say no they look at me like I am mad!

Do try and do something fun if you can while you are off e.g. baby massage class lovely and can do from a couple of weeks.

Mouseybrown Thu 03-Dec-09 10:01:07

Thank you all for your advice and supportive words- I did think I might get a bit of a flaming!

I will be taking some annual leave, I was thinking about before the birth but might be better going on until the bitter end. I'm hoping that I'm going to be allowed to work from home and that'll make eveything so much easier, but wanted some experienced opinions should the boss say 'no'.

I work for a small business, and do a unique job (I mean no-one else can cover my job) so I feel bad for leaving them in the lurch. I'm going to make myself available by phone, and if I can sell the working from home thing should be ok, the commute is worse than the work!

Thank you all again- appreciate your taking the time to reply to a stranger.

Fennel Thu 03-Dec-09 10:06:34

Good luck. I went back early with each of my 3, though not at 6 weeks but I could have managed it, if I'd needed to. I was lucky though with good sleeping babies. and I liked my job too which helped.

On the bf, I agree with some of the others, I did bf/express for a long time while working but I think working full time and bf/expressing full time from 6 weeks is a hard thing to do and you could get in a state trying to do it all. With my first two I managed half bf half formula for many months, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

MavisG Thu 03-Dec-09 10:19:49

You could find that b/fing is a lovely way of reconnecting with your baby after a long day at work, and of unwinding, too. If you can work from home for a few weeks on top of a few weeks' M/L&A/L, and learn to b/f at your computer and lying down in bed so that you can sleep through it - even newborns will help themselves if you sleep topless - establishing b/fing may be easier.

(Also agree that it may be too much and that you shouldn't beat yourself up about it if it is, I'm posting because I found it so hard at first but then easier/neutral and from about 5 months so easy and so, so nice, especially since I started working again, but I had more time than you and less pressure. Would definitely recommend the Ameda lactaline double pump if you decide to pump at work, and to put slits in your bra so you can do it hands-free. Tis super-fast and you can read work stuff at the same time. Wish you the very best of luck, your baby will grow up to be very proud of you, don't entertain any guilt about any of it whatsoever.)

Georgimama Thu 03-Dec-09 10:23:55

I would say that breastfeeding for the six weeks you are at home, if you can, will be a lot better than nothing and frankly, is all that a very significant percentage of mothers do anyway. Your child will be at home with a primary carer thereafter and I can't see anything wrong with your plan at all. Save like mad though in case (God forbid) you need a C section or there are other complications which mean you cannot return to work at 6 weeks.

StarExpat Thu 03-Dec-09 10:25:25

mouseybrown - I went back to work at 9 weeks. But, I'm a teacher (as is DH) and my best friend, who baby and I spent loads of time with from birth so he was comfortable with her, looked after him (she lives very close to where I work). I would only be gone 8-3.30 and I would come every day at lunch time to breastfeed him. I also pumped as soon as I got to work and as soon as I got back from feeding him at lunch time. I also woke up at 4.30am to pump more milk and then fed him at 5 or 6 or whenever he'd decide to wake for the day. I also fed him through the night as he needed it (and once I went back to work he wanted this A LOT).
It is absolutely exhausting. But totally doable and so worth it. If you're going to be away for LONG hours and don't have many holidays, it might be trickier tbh.
I do have loads of school holidays and random days off, though, and as I'm not in a british school, we get even more days off and of course all weekends. So I was able to just bf him myself most of the time. Thank goodness! He would latch straight on at 3.30pm and cluster feed quite a bit in the early days.

He refused a bottle from 5 months, which was fine because he didnt have many bottles of ebm anyway and he was able to wait for me to be around to feed him and at 6 months he started on food.

TBH I wasn't away for as long as someone with a different type of job as I had short hours and loads of holidays + sick days that I could take whenever he needed me home. AND even though - I missed him terribly. I'm certianly not the type who can be a SAHM. I love my job and I feel I have a great balance. But I do think it was a bit early to go back. My priorities have TOTALLY changed since having DS, though. He's number 1 (of course).
I had intended to take 6 weeks. But then took 3 extra with reduced pay and just suffered the consequences financially because I was still in pain from a painful delivery and bf establishing (thrush, mastitis...etc.)

I personally wouldn't waste any of your time you have off on time before the baby is born. I worked right up until DS arrived and was absolutely fine. Uncomfortable, tired, but the time off when baby is there is SO much more worthwhile (for me).

If I ever had another (and I think we'll just have 1 because that has always been our intention) I would save up to take a bit more time off - even if just to 12-16 weeks if that's all I could manage. I WAS lucky in that I returned a week before xmas holidays so had 2 weeks off straight away, but it was still early. I don't regret any of it and feel I had a good balance, worked my a*** off to keep up bf and it all paid off over my long summer holiday from mid June to late Aug when I got to just bf him whenever wherever without pain!

So, after that long sensless ramble blush I'd say, in summary - save your leave up for when baby arrives especially if you're going back to work early, don't be afraid to bf and express ifyou're keen and enjoy every second Motherhood is just the best ever.

StarExpat Thu 03-Dec-09 10:42:54

I should mention I still bf him when he started on food. We carried on until a little over 12 months, so it is possible!
He just needed less bf in the day time once he started on food

StarExpat Thu 03-Dec-09 10:45:11

btw what's HB?

theyoungvisiter Thu 03-Dec-09 10:47:23

If you haven't already done so, it's worth checking to see if your mortgage company will give you a short payment holiday or allow you to swap to interest only for a period. Many are happy to allow this.

This might give you a little bit of leeway in case you feel you need to take a bit longer off for whatever reason.

theyoungvisiter Thu 03-Dec-09 10:49:11

starexpat - I presume HB was husband? Just guessing from the context but made sense to me.

StarExpat Thu 03-Dec-09 10:51:50

oh blush that makes sense. Yes and in context it does. I was thinking, something brother. <idiot I am>

voituredepompier Wed 09-Dec-09 12:00:38

Have you thought of seeing what benefits you can claim on top of SMP? If you are the breadwinner, you might get something worth applying for due to the much reduced household income e.g working families tax credit/child tax credit and this might allow you to stay off work for longer.

Benefits will be based on earnings in the previous tax year but when I applied I also estimated what mine and my partner's earnings in the current tax year would be so you could estimate earnings if say you took 6 months off rather than 6 weeks. If you call the helpline, with this information, they will then be able to estimate what your entitlement would be. They are very slow at dishing out the cash mind - reckon on at least 6 weeks.

lowrib Mon 04-Jan-10 23:52:05

Yes, mortgage holiday! I am so glad I found out my mortgage company did payment holidays. We took the maximum 6 months. I've no idea how we would have coped otherwise. Lots of mortgages do this - just ring and ask if they do it, you may be pleasantly surprised.

You say you do a unique job and feel bad about leaving your company in the lurch. Earlier on you say you need to do the job for the money.

While I'm sure both of them are true, it might help to have a think about what your priorities are. While you are actually at work, it's easy to feel needed by them. But when your baby is born, your priorities may totally change, and work (or this specific job) may seem much less important.

I think it might help to get your priorities clear in your own head. If your first priority is to make money for your family, then actually that frees you up a bit to look at other options, for example cutting down your outgoings (e.g. mortgage holiday) so you could afford to go part time. Or looking for another job. Or DH looking for a job. Or getting benefits (do look at Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit like voituredepompier says).

If on the other hand you may feel strong loyalty to your employers, and this might be informing your decision - do consider that you might change your mind on this. Have a think anyway about what you might do if the baby comes and you feel like the last thing you want to do is work full time. (And you won't know for sure till the baby is here).

I know that feeling that you are needed (I used to work till 8.30 many nights with no overtime - now I think "why"?!!!), but actually no one is totally indispensable. If you suddenly disappeared would the company actually shut down? Or would they cope somehow? I bet they would. So perhaps part time might be a possibility?

On the emotional level, your DP will most likely end up a lot closer to your child than you, if you are away for a full time job. Of course this is the lot of most fathers, but personally I am too selfish - I want to have a close relationship with my baby, and I'd find it very hard if I couldn't spend time with him. You need to ask yourself if you think you will cope OK with this.
The answer might be that actually you are OK with it. I know a lovely couple where the woman is very career minded and the bloke says at home with the kids, and it works for them. Again you probably won;t know for sure till the baby comes, or has been around for a while even.

I'm not saying you shouldn't carry out your plan. But to be realistic, it is far from ideal. You have quite a bit of time till the birth, and IMO it would be well worth at least exploring other possibilities. I'm a firm believer that there is a solution to (almost) every problem, if you look hard enough and apply enough lateral thinking!

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