Returning to Work After Birth

Updated on February 13, 2009
R.S. asks from Chicago, IL
8 answers

Hi there,

I am currently 4.5 months pregnant so it may be premature to ask this. For those of you who were able to choose when to return to work, what was your experience? If all goes smoothly, I will have the baby in July, and I was thinking of returning November 1st. Having never experienced motherhood before, I'm guessing that there's no way I can predict how I'm going to feel once the baby arrives. Meaning, perhaps after 2 months, I'll be longing to return...or maybe I'll want another 2 months to be at home. Or, perhaps I'll want to start back two or three days a week. How did you all manage this? What did you look for in a child care provider...did the person come to your home, or did you opt for a daycare setting? Was your husband able to stay home with the baby part of the time? Was it emotionally difficult to leave your newborn in the hands of someone else?

Thank you!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

I was able to choose when to go back to work after both my sons as I was changing jobs both times (I'm a physical therapist). Everyone one as different experiences but here is mine -

I was bored out of my mind for the first 2 months but when the baby starting engaging and moving I enjoyed being with him more. However by 6 months I was ready to start working (3days/wk). I found my babysitter on this site actually.

With my 2nd baby I stayed home for 5 months (+ one month before his birth). When I had started interviewing around month 3 Iwas not ready and turned down a couple offers. I also found different childcare - someone to come to our house as my new job was closer to home and I wanted to be able to see the kids if I wanted at lunch.

I like working part-time as it keeps me current in the event I would need to go back full time as well as keeping an indentity other than "mom" all while giving me the extra time to watch my boys grow up.

I'd recommend talking to a lot of people (as you're already doing), visiting daycare centers, and learning about resources in finding sitters. The ultimate decision will still be hard but you might feel a little more confident with some research under your belt.

Good luck with the pregnancy.



answers from Chicago on

After the birth of my first child, it just worked out that I was home all day and worked 1-2 evenings a week when he was about 6 weeks old, which was great because I was dying to get out of the house. For me, the thought of leaving my children outside of the home with someone else or in a daycare setting, after doing a lot of research, just wasn't what we wanted for our children. It worked out that my husband was home those evenings that I worked. It is an emotional time, for sure. But I was greatful for some time to myself, outside of the house. Being a new mother is incredibly overwhelming and can also be very isolating, especially if you don't have friends around in a simliar situation, which I did not.
Eventually I started teaching day classes, as well, and then I started working full time again the year before our second child was born. We have a nanny that comes to the house. It's perfect for us, and the kids get the one-on-one care that we want them to have. Daycare is so expensive... We actually save money with the nanny vs. daycare for 2 children.



answers from Chicago on

If your company allows 12 weeks or more, take it if you can afford it!! As one of the responses said, the first couple weeks are extremely hard so you definitely don't want to decide then. I took the 12 weeks with both and can't even imaging how mothers used to do 6 weeks before FMLA was introduced. It was very hard for me after 12 weeks, however in some ways you are ready for adult interaction. With my first, dropping her off at daycare the first/second day was very hard, but it got better every day. I had a hard time finding a daycare, I didn't want to go to the large "kindercares" and am very thankful that through a friend i was introduced to a home daycare and that there was an opening. My daughter seemed very happy there so it made it easier having my son go there. We talked about having a nanny come to our house after our second child but then your children don't have the interaction with other children which is very important. If you decide to use a daycare, i would start to look now, check with friends, church, etc and start to interview. Good luck!!



answers from Chicago on

Hi R.,
I read your post and had the same question. My baby was due at the end of Dec. of 2008 and I requested my standard maternity leave of 12 weeks. However, if I wanted to be a stay at home mom the following school year, I would have to put that request in writing in February and that would be only 4 weeks into my maternity leave-so how would I know? My advice, since I've now had my baby and am in the 5th week of my maternity leave, is to take your 12 weeks (3 months) since it takes that long for you and your baby to adjust to sleeping patterns, nursing, etc. If I made my decision based upon the first 2 or 4 weeks of having my baby, I would have RUN back to work-it is so hard and really not a good example of what its like being home with a baby. As my baby starts to smile, recongize me as her mother and laugh, as well as start to get into good eating and sleeping habits, life seems so differnt with her and it's getting hard to think about leaving her (although I am going back to work since we need the income). If your company is flexible about when you'll return to work, I'd say take that flexibility and put off making that decision as late as possible. My school is not flexible as to when I can put in a leave of absence. I am considering going part time or taking a leave of absence for a year to be home. Unfortunately, I won't be able to do that until the 2010-2011 school year since I'll have to put that request into my boss in February of 2010. Good luck! -K.



answers from Chicago on

What did you look for in a child care provider...did the person come to your home, or did you opt for a daycare setting?

We had a friend with a similar-age baby watch my son until he was 15 months old, then he went to daycare. My daughter is at home until 8 months old, then at daycare.

Was your husband able to stay home with the baby part of the time?

With my son, both my husband and I worked 4 days per week - we each worked 1/2 days on Mon/Fri and full days Tues-Thurs. This worked well for us and gave us more time to see our baby. With my daughter I took my 3 months leave, and then went back 10 hours/week in the fall (so was basically at home for 6 months). I went back full time when she was 6 months old and at that point my husband took 2 months leave (his will end on 2/28 of this year). This allowed us to get my daughter to a point developmentally where we felt ok about putting her in a daycare. Plus, going back to work was SO MUCH EASIER for me, knowing that the person taking care of my kids loved them as much as I did!

Was it emotionally difficult to leave your newborn in the hands of someone else?

Yes, the first daycare we had my son at I was not comfortable with. We pulled him out after a month and had another mom watch him. That was much better for us (and for him I think!) Believe me, if you aren't 100% comfortable with your daycare, you won't get anything done at work.

My advice:
1. Start looking at daycares NOW. Waiting lists are long, especially for good infant care.

2. I doubt you'll be itching to go back to work full time after 8 weeks. That 12 weeks goes by MUCH faster than you can possibly imagine. Take it all.

3. It is entirely possible that you won't want to go back 100% at 12 weeks. I sure didn't. Actually, I haven't met a mom yet who was excited to be working full time with a 12 week old baby. Ideally, I'd go for 20-30 hours per week. You will want to use your brain, that's for sure. You will want to talk to adults. But you will be very sad to miss your baby. They change so quickly when they're this young. Remember: you only get to do this part once, so enjoy it!



answers from Chicago on

Hi R.. Lots to think about isn't there? You are right...there is no way to know exactly how you will feel about returning to work. I think a lot depends on your family experience: did your mother stay home full time, if so what did you think of that? Did your mother work and did you miss her terribly? (my situation). One thing I can tell you is between 3 and 4 months they start "waking up" to the world and become very interesting little beings. If you have a baby that has colic or you initially have a hard experience - it will be hard to leave once the baby starts to be more rewarding. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go back to work; just be prepared!

When I went back to work I hired a nanny to come to my home. I think that's the best situation over the long term. the baby stays in its environment and it is easier to establish a schedule. It also avoids a lot of the germs in daycares. As far hiring the nanny, I asked a lot of questions but a lot of it was intuitive. You can just tell if you are dealing with someone who loves babies. Also look for someone who is not so experienced as to be an EXPERT who will never let you make decisions about the baby.

Having said all that, I went back to work for two months then quit to stay home full time. I've had two more children and its been 15 years. I don't ever regret my decision.

Good luck and just remember that your way doesn't have to be anyone else's "right" way.



answers from Chicago on

R., I work and took off 3 months after each baby (now 1 and 5). First time finding child care was difficult since baby wouldn't take bottle. Since I work out of the house this was solved by getting a nanny. If you're going to nurse, if you can find child care near your work, it may make things a lot easier because a lot of babies don't take to the bottle well if you've establish nursing well. By second time, my hubby was a stay at home dad, and it's been so much easier transitioning back work. Both times, but especially the first, I loved the maternity leave but also LOVED going back to work, after a few difficult weeks of adjustment. As someone else mentioned, having a new baby can be very isolating, so try to hook up wiht other new moms now so you can enjoy your maternity leave even more. Congratulations!



answers from Chicago on

Hi R.. Congrats on your pregnancy! Babies are so wonderful!

I'm a first time mom to a 7 1/2 month old daughter. Before I was pregnant, I used to work full-time (40-50 hours/week), but since my daughter was born, I reduced my hours to 20 hours a week. (I work 2 ten hour days). Fortunately, my husband works only 3 days a week, so we arrange it where one of us is home with the baby--most of the time. Every now and then we need a sitter, and I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend whose aunt is retired from being a nanny and she watches my daughter a few hours here and there. I don't know what i would have done without her b/c i had the hardest time trying to find childcare. We wanted someone in our home rather than in a daycare or at someone else's home. I'm kind of a neat freak and very particular about certain things and I just really needed to know that my baby was in a clean and safe environment.

I kind of wish i had more time to stay at home with her before i went back to work. (i went back when she was a little over three months old). Especially since i'm breastfeeding and i hate pumping. But it was nice to get back to work. Being at home and caring for a baby all day is hard, and going to work (especially since i do it only twice a week now) is really kind of like a break.

If you have the option, i would let your job know that you are coming back in November and if you really want to go back earlier, you can. But don't commit to an earlier date if you don't have to. Going back just a few days a week at first would be great, too if you are able to do that. It's hard to leave the baby with someone else--especially if you're nursing b/c if you're gone all day, you will have to pump A LOT not to mention how much you'll miss the baby and wondering what/how he/she is doing. So definitely try to have a trial period before you go back to working 40 hours a week if that is your ultimate goal.

good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions