Tips for preparing to go back to work after having a baby.

After weeks, or even months, of being at home with your new bundle of joy, the thought of heading back to work at the end of maternity or paternity leave can be trying. It’s an emotional time when preparation and organization is of the utmost importance. Since your baby will feed off of your stress, skipping the drama of an abrupt separation is important.

Ease into it

If you are lucky enough to have a close friend or family member watching your baby when you head back to work, try leaving your child for short stints ahead of your fulltime return. This not only prepares mom and dad for the separation, but baby too. Most daycares will also allow for exploration days. Drop your baby off for a few hours to give him or her the chance to experience this new environment in small doses.

Some jobs will also work to accommodate new parents. Have a discussion with your employer about working part-time, or arranging your schedule in a way that works best with your child care provider. Work schedules might need to be adjusted depending on drop-off and pickup times. Furthermore, breastfeeding mothers will need breaks to step away and pump. Speak to your colleagues and establish who will cover your duties during this time.

Let’s not forget about having backup plans as well. Babies and young children get sick. An unanticipated call from the daycare with an ill child can create panic. Develop a plan for someone with a flexible schedule, such as a relative or friend, to be available to pick up the child.

Organize

Working a full-time job and being a full-time parent is tough, but it can be done. Plan meals for the week on weekends, and develop an evening routine — dinner, play, bath, preparation for the next day and bed.

Stock up. Buy diapers, wipes and formula for home and daycare in bulk. Plan to drop off these essentials and other supplies when you do your exploration days to avoid wrangling too many things on your first day back.

Many mothers and fathers find returning to work is often refreshing. There are colleagues to converse with, and the feeling of accomplishing something daily is rewarding. It is normal to have some apprehensions when you head back to work, but stick to an organized routine, plan ahead and use those around you for support.

Melissa A. Chiasson, M.D., is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and practices at OB/GYN Associates of Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas. She attended Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmittsburg, Maryland, and graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska with her medical degree. Dr. Chiasson completed her residency at San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium, and is a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.