Going Back to Work After Baby: How to Make a Smooth Transition with High-Needs Baby
“I have a “high need baby.” After reading your article about high-need babies, and felt like you were writing about her. She is 6 weeks old, and I have 12 weeks of maternity leave. Naturally, I am thinking about caregiver options for my baby when I go back to work.
I am a nurse anesthetist and work M-F until 3 pm. My husband is an IT professional and works from home mostly. However, he is too busy to realistically keep baby at home. We have a spot reserved in daycare for when she is 4 months old. Grandmas will babysit for the first month. I just don’t see my baby doing well in daycare when I go back to work! The daycare is at the hospital I work at and has an excellent reputation. But this baby needs to be held/worn to be happy and often wants only me.
Will she learn to cope in daycare, or should I look for an alternative solution? I am as attached to her as she is to me. It will be hard on both of us but not returning to work is not an option right now. Thank you!”
Congratulations on having a “high need baby!” I like to call them “highly-gifted babies.” Your dilemma reminds me much of what I went through with our first baby, baby Jim (now “Dr. Jim” whom you may have seen on The Doctors TV show). My husband, Dr. Bill, was an intern, so I was the main wage earner working as a nurse. Going back to work after baby is a juggling act doing shiftwork while Bill cared for baby Jimmy and breastfeeding him during my breaks when Bill would bring him to me. You’ll be amazed what intuitive solutions your new “mommy brain” will come up with, and it’s likely to be the right choice for all of you.
Make the Most of It
Going back to work after baby will be a new way of living. Therefore, focus on the beauty of having twelve weeks of maternity leave to enjoy your “high-touch” baby. Make the most of it. While you’re a full-time at-home mom, be sure to pump your excess breastmilk and build-up the largest milk bank in your freezer that you can. Those hours in your arms, at your breasts, and in your bed are really a short time in the total life with your baby, but the memories of love and availability will last a lifetime.
Lean on Family When Going Back to Work After Baby
When you go back to work and baby is home with your husband and a caregiver, consider this as an opportunity for your husband to strengthen his daddy-daughter connection. You’ll be amazed at what fun and sometimes goofy baby-calming tactics dads will come up with when it’s just “baby and me.” Yes, your husband will be busy working from home, but he will still be able to sneak in some special baby time. Since many families are now working from home during the COVID crisis, we have gotten so much positive feedback from Bill’s medical practice about this situation being a unique opportunity for parents to bond with their new baby.
You also have the advantage of having grandmas be your baby’s first substitute caregivers when you go back to work. What a beautiful gift for grandmothers! They’ll do it right because, in some ways, this is probably a rerun of what they did decades ago, and the love of a grandmother will bring out the best in their caregiving strategies.
Be Close to Baby
I suggest that since daycare is at the hospital you work at, this may be your best alternative since you can do plenty of mommy visits and breastfeed with the baby during your breaks. By this time, you’ll also know what style of babywearing your baby most enjoys. Bring your carrier to daycare and teach the daycare providers the babywearing technique that works best for your baby. By the time your baby is four months of age and ready for your hospital daycare, lots of developmental maturities will also have occurred, which may make the transition easier. Four-month-old babies are more easily entertained by fun facial expressions, movement (such as dancing while wearing), and other fun playtime interactions that you can share with the daycare providers.
Finally, take advantage of non-work days to breastfeed more often (which will also increase your milk supply) and enjoy more reconnecting touch-time with your baby.
For more about juggling breastfeeding and working and mothering a high-need baby see:
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”