Maternity leave: Tips for returning to work

Maternity leave passes quickly. Find out what you can do to ease your transition back to work — and how to stay connected to your baby.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Are you dreading the day your maternity leave ends? Don't despair. Working mothers face many challenges, but with some planning you can make your transition back to work a smoother one.

Before you return to work

While you're still on maternity leave, set yourself up for a successful return to work:

  • Find dependable child care. Consider local child care providers and facilities or make other arrangements. Look for a safe, stimulating environment and qualified caregivers. Ask your baby's doctor, friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations. Check caregivers' references and trust your instincts.
  • Talk to your employer. Clarify your job duties and schedule so you'll know what's expected of you after your maternity leave. You might ask about flexible hours, telecommuting or working part time.
  • Prepare to continue breast-feeding. If you plan to breast-feed after returning to work, talk to your employer. Ask about a clean, private room with an outlet for breast pumping. Consider buying or renting an electric pump that allows you to pump both breasts at once. About two weeks before returning to work, adjust your nursing schedule at home so you're pumping at least once each day and nursing before and after your upcoming work hours. Have someone else feed your baby a bottle of breast milk to help your baby adapt. If you have on-site or nearby child care, consider the logistics of breast-feeding your baby during the workday.
  • Set a return-to-work date. If you can, go back to work late in the week. That'll make your first week back to work a shorter one.
May. 09, 2014 See more In-depth