Returning to Work When Baby Still Wakes During the Night...

Updated on February 13, 2011
R.S. asks from Chicago, IL
13 answers

Hi there,

We are expecting our second child at the end of July. I was a tired wreck for several months after our first baby was born. Although I knew it was totally normal for babies, especially breastfed babies, to wake multiple times throughout the night, I still was unprepared for the level of exhaustion I was going to feel...and, of course, the grumpiness and irritability that accompanied that. I had lost my job the month before she was born so I ended up being a SAHM, which was a blessing in so many being that I could rest when she napped. With this next one, though, I will be returning to work part-time. I'm just wondering how you managed at work, when your nights were still interrupted? What did you do to help yourself have more energy? I'll be returning part-time and can create my own hours, which will probably help because I can then figure out when my most alert times are throughout the day.


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answers from Pittsburgh on

I went back to work part time at 4 weeks and full time at 9 weeks. We formula fed so we split the nights - DH got the first waking (I am a zombie if I have to get up at 1-2 am) and I got the second one. We were both truly exhausted for months - drank a lot of coffee, one of us would go to bed early before DS's last night time feeding. I assume you are planning on pumping since you will be working. Can you pump for one night time feed so you can split the nights - made a huge difference for us.

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answers from Chicago on

My son did not sleep through the night until 10 months old. I went back to work when he was 8 weeks old. I worked full-time but it was actually okay because when I was working I wasn't tired at all. On my days off I would be exhausted and napped when I could. For some reason going to work made me feel better.

Working out every day, even if it was just a twenty minute walk also helped. Oh and coffee!

I am 6 months pregnant now and am exhausted today - a day off. When I am at work I am fine.



answers from Chicago on

My advice is to have a consistent time at night that you go to bed. If you have baby on a good routine at night, go to bed when baby does. Even if it's 8 pm, I would still say go to bed. Take advantage of naps whenever you can, but don't overdo naps during the day. For me, if I nap too much during the day I'm either super tired the rest of the day or unable to sleep at night.

Some sort of stretching or exercise first thing in the morning helped me...boosted my energy first thing.

My husband helped out for diaper changes at night, once he noticed how exhausted I was nursing in the middle of the night. It baby is just needing a diaper change, maybe he can help?

That's awesome you can work your own hours! Use that to your advantage for sure!!



answers from Chicago on

I just went back to work, and I work full time. My son is now 13 weeks old.
He gets up once in the night around 4:30 am.
I go to bed when he does - around 9 pm, or even earlier.
To stay awake during the day, I exercise first thing in the am.
I also eat a lot of vitamin C to prevent myself from getting sick (sleep deprivation can make u more prone to getting ill) and try to eat right.
When I'm real sleepy, I drink coffee, chew strong peppermint gum, and try to take power naps when I get home.



answers from Tampa on

I wish I had a great piece of advice for you but in all honesty.....I think your body almost just goes on "auto-pilot." I am not a CIO mom and my guy did not start sleeping through the night consistently until 19 months. I had to return to work when he was 3 months old. Yes, the beginning was worse than the end (where he was waking multiple times in beginning vs once or just a couple of times by 19 mos). I was BF'ing/pumping. I would drink a coffee immediately after my first pumping session in the am but was afraid to have more than that for fear it would get into his milk. I still did pretty well at work but did have a few idiot moments....luckily, I think I was the only one that noticed them :-). You will feel extremely exhausted at first....I am not saying that to make you feel bad, just to let you know that it will be difficult, but you will get through it :-) At the time, each day feels like its 30 hrs long and you are beyond exhausted...but now my little one turned 3 last month and I am still in shock. I would love one of those exhausted nights with my baby went so fast :-) Congratulations.


answers from Saginaw on

I got help from my husband. (I didn't make him help at all, besides weekends when I was off on maternity leave, but after it was over, he shared the responsibility)

I would go to bed early. He would stay up late. So he did the late night feedings and I would do the early morning ones. It was still tiring, but when you look back its usually less than a year with this arrangement.



answers from Johnstown on

Take a nap during the early evening if necessary. Eat right, exercise, ask your partner and older child to help you when able. When others ask if you need help, take them up on the offer. Congratulations :)


Take a nap during the early evening if necessary. Eat right, exercise, ask your partner and older child to help you when able. When others ask if you need help, take them up on the offer. Congratulations :)



answers from Chicago on

Go to bed when he does, coffee and just being a zombie. I went back to work full time when my first was 12 weeks and he continued waking at night till he was a little over a year. You won't remember most of work, but somehow you get through it.
**oh yes, and when he would wake during the early morning hours, I would bring him to bed with me after that and let him nurse when he wanted. I fell right back asleep and then my hubby would wake up with cozy warm baby next to him. Worked well for us.



answers from Minneapolis on

Surprisingly for me it wasnt as bad the second time around. I knew more what to expect and it hasnt been as hard as i thought. I went back to work after 7 weeks and my 2nd baby is now 11 months old and yes still wakes during the night. When she was younger she would have nights where she would be up for like 2-3 hours during the night. That was tough!! Now she just gets up once a night usually. However last night she was up for about an hour and a half so im extra tired today, but she is starting to sleep through the night once in a while so thats nice. Just remember it wont last forever and you are so busy with work and the kids and the house you really dont have time to think about how tired you are. Coffee coffee coffee and you will get through the day. Congrats on the baby!!



answers from Boston on

Co-sleeping and night nursing were what got me through all of those working-mom-of-an-infant years. My kids didn't reliably sleep through the night until they were at least 2 years old, and at one point I figured out that I literally hadn't had a full night's sleep in more than 4 years lol.

I used to frequently nap in my car on the way to or from work. When I am tired, I often don't feel it until I'm driving and then I start to nod off, so I had a whole bunch of places along my route where I knew it was safe to pull over and take a 10-15 minute nap. These were usually parking lots at retail stores, and I would keep a little timer in my car so that I could set it and really rest. I would just build an extra few minutes into my commute time and if I were running a little late but was totally zonked, I'd nap anyway and blame it on traffic.

We also have a nursing mother's room at work where we can pump, so I would get set up, shut off the lights and nap while I pumped.



answers from Las Vegas on

Well you have it better than most of us. You will be able to adjust your work schedule where we had to adjust our sleep schedule. Your body will adjust and you will be fine. Just be sure not to push work back on a long night, in case you have a series of long nights, because those happen too. Tell Dad to get up when you need help.


answers from St. Louis on

I returned to work when my 2nd child was 9 weeks old (and had a 2 year 9 week old daughter as well). My husband worked 3-1130pm so I didn't get help at night during the week. What saved me at times was the fact that my husband was up a lot later than I was. If my son got up to eat, he couldn't help with that since he was breastfed, but if I couldn't get him back down, he'd take him and play with him then put him down. I used a cosleeper playpen for the first six months so I could just pull him into bed with us, lay on my side and feed him and then turn over, feed him again and then put him back in bed.

Honestly, looking back (my kids are 3.5 and 18 months) I do not remember being super exhausted. But I made sure to go to bed by 10pm (waking in the morning around 6am). On the weekends, I napped both Sat and Sunday to make up time (even though they say that doesn't work!). I really do believe cosleeping helps with exhaustion!!

Find out when you are most alert during the day and set your hours accordingly. Maybe try to plan it where you can get a nap in before you go to work (if your kids are going to daycare). Drink lots of water, eat healthy and as soon as possible, work out (even if it's just walking).

Good luck!



answers from Gainesville on

I returned to work part time and then full time when my 3rd child was 6 weeks old and I was so tired!!! My mom felt bad a hired a baby nurse to come in the evenings for a month (my exworked nights). One of the best things she told me was to just go to bed. When i put my older kids to bed at 8:30 I went to bed too! that way even tho my newborn woke up it seemed like 10 times a night (but was probably more like 4) I did actually feel rested when I woke up! Now I know this probably will make it harder for you to carve out time for you and your husband, but it made a HUGE! Difference in the way I felt and my crankiness levels!

Good luck!

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