Going back to work after you've had a baby is hard for a number of reasons. For one, the whole time you're away you're missing your baby and thinking of everything that could go wrong because you're not there to protect him. For another, if you're breast feeding you have to deal with deciding to pump or not to pump. If you do pump, will your boss be okay with it? What about sleep (or the lack of it)? You can't remember the last time you got more than 3 hours of sleep in a row and now you're supposed to go back to work? And finally, you might worry that because you're gone all day you won't be able to bond with your baby and you're sure she will have life-long attachment issues because of it.

The solution? It consists of the principle of give and take. You will have to make a few sacrifices at work and in your home life, but you will be rewarded with some semblance of balance between earning a living and raising your baby.

Practice the new routine

If possible, practice the routine you'd like your infant to settle into before you actually head back to work. Realize that this will entail getting up a little early for baby's first feeding and remember to add a little extra time to your commute if you need to drop the little tyke off at day care. Do a couple dry runs the week before (maybe see if the day care facility will take the baby a week early) and start getting used to saying good-bye.

Kick your office act into gear

When you're at work, it will be hard at first to focus on the projects and demands at hand. Your thoughts will likely keep straying to a certain little slobbery creature who has a tight hold on your heartstrings. The important thing is to not let your boss think you're off your game. Don't complain to coworkers or let your daydreaming keep you from completing your appointed tasks. If your work performance starts sliding, your boss may be less enthusiastic when you start to gush about your adorable little baby. Instead, try using your newly developing talent for multi-tasking to make yourself more productive than ever before.

Figure out your breast feeding technique

Start pumping at least a month before you head back to work. This will help you develop the habit of pumping and allow you to save up an emergency supply. Let your boss know before your maternity leave ends what you plan to do about breast feeding when you're back on the job. One idea is to divide your lunch hour up into 20-minute chunks throughout the day. Remember to bring a cover to pump under and try to find an empty office where you can pump if there's no handy bench in the bathroom.

Don't feel bad if this all feels overwhelming at first. Just remind yourself that you're doing this so your child can have a better, more comfortable life. And when you're not at work, feel free to hold and cuddle your baby to your heart's content, it will allow you two to bond. And who knows, after a day at the office you may even find that you don't mind his crying and dirty diapers so much.

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