This is sponsored by Enfamil NeuroPro™. The opinions and text are all mine.
I’ve been thinking about this notion for a while – my generation of women is redefining what ‘back to work’ means after having a baby. Many women (myself included) didn’t get the official ‘maternity leave’ because they’re self-employed or have a different kind of career situation. A lot of my girlfriends are in the same boat, and it can be both liberating and scary, to have no particular framework or plan in place, both financially, emotionally and physically! In many ways, being on a freelance or self-employed basis adds freedom (because I’m able to control my own schedule and work a lot from home), but in many ways it adds pressure. For example, my first job back was 11 hours straight, six weeks after Honor was born, hosting the red carpet for the Oscars. Glamorous yes, but a whole other story behind the scenes – pumping, worrying about leaking (and scouring the internet for bra padding that didn’t look like a bed mattress – lol!), fitting into my dress, missing Honor and feeling guilty about being away from her for so long, so soon. Whether you’re self-employed or work in a traditional business environment, these guilty feelings are common for many mothers returning to the workplace after their babies are born. I’ve never wrestled with such mixed feelings before: those of excitement and inspiration that I felt like my old self again, full of adrenaline on set, and then the feelings of self-doubt and worry that perhaps I was doing the wrong thing. So today, I’m talking about this in the hopes that other mums out there can relate, and to share how I’m making the transition easiest for Honor, Mackenzie and myself.
One of the major issues that makes going back to work hard for mums and babies is of course, breastfeeding. Not only is it a lovely bonding experience that you’re sure to miss terribly, but it’s also very healthy for baby and is widely recommended for the first year of life. Since the average length of maternity leave in the US is about 10 weeks, this creates a gap where you may want to continue to breastfeed, but have to be away from your baby during work hours. This is often a problem for many mums who may worry about their milk supplies going down – you’re not at home feeding baby at the same time every day, and pumping at exact intervals may be difficult if you’re busy at the office. Personally, not only do I often work long hours at shoots and events, but I travel a lot for different jobs, making feeding and pumping more likely to be inconsistent as time goes on. To help ease the transition, we’ve started to supplement my own breast milk with Enfamil NeuroPro™ Formula.
If you guys saw my last blog post about transitioning to formula, you’ll know why I love this particular one so much. It has certain components also found in breast milk called MFGM and DHA. MFGM has been clinically shown to help to close the cognitive development gap between formula-fed and breast-fed infants.** Knowing that Honor will continue to receive these important components as we move away from breastfeeding has taken such a weight off my shoulders. At the moment, we’re still mixing my breast milk with formula, but will slowly move towards 100% formula in the coming months as I continue to take on more work. It will give both Honor and I so much more freedom, without me worrying or feeling guilty that I’m no longer breastfeeding. Of course, every mum, baby and family is completely different, and what works for us may not work for everyone. Many mums choose to continue breastfeeding for many years, and some may choose formula from the start. The point is to do what works best for you and your baby, and right now, this has been extremely helpful for our particular work schedules and lifestyle.
**As measured by Bayley-III cognitive score at 12 months in a different formula with MFGM added as an ingredient
A few more tips to make going back to work easier? For one, let go of the guilt. Though some people may disagree, the decision to go back to work is personal, and no one knows better what is best for you and your baby. Mackenzie and I run our own company, which requires both of us to work. Though we had mixed feelings once we started working again (I think most parents do), we made sure one of us was at home for a good part of the day, and also accepted that it was necessary to be able to provide for Honor in the long run. Know that your decision is for the good of your baby, so though it may be hard, forgive yourself and move on.
Secondly, to ease the feelings of separation anxiety, do little things throughout the day to make you feel more connected to your baby. Video chat with your baby (via your nanny or childcare provider of course!), share photos with friends and family on shared albums, and even install a baby monitor app on your phone so that you can see your baby whenever you like (I recently got busted by another mum doing this while out at dinner!).
Lastly, organization is key. If you weren’t a list-writer before, it’s worth becoming one so you don’t forget anything – not just for the baby but for your own work week too. If you thought there was a lot to do before, there’s 10 times more to think about now! It will help the transition be so much easier if you’re not feeling overly stressed or behind. There are tons of to-do list apps that are so helpful, or if you’re like me and prefer an actual planner, make sure to carry it with you absolutely everywhere. Oh, and PS. Pause wearing the cashmere (or any other expensive fabrics for now), because your baby will spit up on your outfit just as you leave the house! Whether your baby is breast or bottle feeding, the last thing you need is a flustered outfit change on your way out the door in the morning.
Mums out there, what was it like for you going back to work after baby? Share your experiences below!