10 Things Every New Mom Needs to Know Before the End of Maternity Leave

Before you head back to work at the end of your maternity leave, keep these things in mind.

1. Don’t get carried away with showing pictures of your baby. Your coworkers will most certainly inquire, but when you take out your smartphone, try and show only the highlight reel. Babies are cute, but before you know it, one photo leads to two photos…and then work is over and no one gets anything done.

2. Don’t stress about pumping at work. I mean, why would you be stressed about sitting in your quiet office and attaching a suction device to your nipples that spurts milk into bottles attached to your breasts that sounds like Wee-WAH… Wee-WAH… Wee-WAH…? Jokes aside, it’ll be okay.

3. Don’t automatically eliminate caffeine just because you are breastfeeding. I’m not a doctor, but I would advise giving coffee a try and seeing what happens before you stop this daily ritual. If you have to eliminate it, I’m sorry for your loss.
4. Do check references before hiring a sitter. When you find the reference who says, “We LOVE this woman,” it doesn’t matter if you met her at a bar. She will be the one to take your child to the park, make art projects out of Jell-O, and tidy your house.

5. Do review diaper changing with your sitter. I don’t care if she has “night nurse for triplets” on her resume. Just smile and say something like, “I know this is ridiculous, but if you would humor me, let’s change a diaper, so you’ll know where the diapers and wipes are. Sorry, I am a neurotic new mom!”

6. Do give your sitter a 30-minute warning before you come home. This gives her a chance to do the things she should have done while the baby was napping.

7. Do take your lunch break. Because isn’t lunch the whole point of work?

8. Do get everything ready the night before. It’s hard enough to get out the door when you just need to kiss the baby one last time, but the night before, lay out your outfit, shower, and prep the coffee.

9. Do leave for work before your partner, if possible. Leaving a note is more efficient than hanging around while the sitter reads said note, then telling her everything you already wrote, giving her a tour of the fridge, and chatting about the weather when your husband could have done the hand-off in three minutes.

10. Do remember that this too shall pass. I know that is impossible at 2 a.m. after you’ve been up with a crying baby, and then you get back into bed, turn to your partner, and say, “You’re sleeping! I can tell by your breathing. You’re not the only one who has to work tomorrow!” and then loudly fluff your pillow. And when you wake up the next day with sand for eyeballs, the vibe is less “This too shall pass” and more “I feel like a prisoner of war.” But it will pass, I promise. If my promise is not enough, have a glass of wine. After work, that is.

This article was originally published in Fall 2023.