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Nataly Kogan

Co-founder/CEO of an online community for working moms called...

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Janet Chan

Editor-in-chief of Parenting magazine and editorial director...

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Nancy Collamer

Career transitions expert, jobs and moms pro for Oxygen Media...

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Top 5 Things to Do

As your maternity leave comes to an end, are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed -- even scared that your absence will scar your child or affect your mother-baby bond? You aren’t alone; many working moms felt the same way when they headed back to the office. Here are the top five tips to help you feel more confident, comfortable and in control during the first 30 days of going back to work after baby.

1. Find the right caregiver.

Choosing the right caregiver—one who will take exceptional care of your child and work well with you—is among the most important keys to your success. Use a reputable agency or other resource to find an appropriate provider, but always trust your instinct when it comes to selecting the right candidate. Once you have chosen a caregiver, establish a solid line of communication from day one. Ask your baby’s caregiver to give you more information than you may need during your phone calls and face-to-face chats.

2. Give yourself time to adjust.

Expect to feel imbalanced and anxious during the first week—or month—back at your workplace. Your recent focus has been on feeding, sleeping, changing diapers and, above all, loving your child. Though you may have been away from your job for only a matter of months, the work environment may feel a bit alien. Allow yourself time to warm back up to your professional life.

3. Talk with your employer.

More and more companies are willing to negotiate a modified work schedule and other provisions during the initial few months after maternity leave. Meet with your employer to discuss returning to the office in stages, rather than returning to your pre-baby schedule immediately. Be upfront about how much overtime, if any, you are willing to work. You may want to discuss other ways to ease your transition, such as establishing a lactation room or even laying the groundwork for an on-site daycare center. As you ease into your new routine, keep the dialogue open so everyone is on the same page.

4. Dress for success.

When it comes to your post-baby wardrobe, you may find yourself between sizes: too small for pregnancy clothes, too big for regular ones. While your body is still changing, invest in some transitional garments to get you through the first few months of work. Looking sharp is a real mood booster—something you may need right about now.

5. Reject guilt and shame.

Acknowledge the grief and anxiety you may feel about separating from your child, then let it go. Resist the urge to think negatively about this transition by reflecting on the positives: You stand to gain financial security, intellectual stimulation and more time to yourself. On the job, be as positive and professional as you can—even if you’d rather be at home.

Posted: 10/3/07