Maternity Leave Over? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Get in Line before You Go back to Work

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In an interview with us here at EverydayFamily, Dr. Meg Meeker, MD of the American Academy of Pediatrics, talked about three things that oftentimes get put on the “I'll deal with it later” shelf when women are prepping themselves to make their way back into the workforce.

Pay attention and take notes because here are the three things that Dr. Meeker suggests you do sooner, rather than later.

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Get some sleep — both of you!

If you're a seasoned parent, you know how hard taking care of all the daily tasks are if you've been up all night with a screaming baby or sick kids. For all you new parents out there, you're due for a rude (and potentially very hungry and cranky) awakening.

A good majority of parents to a newborn will get around 3 1/2 hours of sleep each night, according to Medical News Today. So you could turn on Gone with the Wind, watch a couple minutes of it, go to sleep, and then wake up to see the movie's ending. (I'm not sure if that's more telling of how little sleep that is or how ridiculously long that movie is.)

{ MORE: 5 Ways New Moms Can Get Sleep }

Dr. Meeker said, “Try to get yourself on a good sleep schedule.” Easy enough, right? Well, she also had this to say: “And coerce your baby to get on a good sleep schedule as well so that you're [both] as well rested as possible.” Yeah, the baby-sleeping thing may cause some problems. But if you need some tips on getting a newborn to sleep better and longer through the night, click here and read about what Dr. Christina Gantcher, M. Sc., a sleep coach and in-house sleep expert for Gerber, had to say.

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Get your bottles ready

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As the saying goes, “Breast is best,” but that's not necessarily referring to your baby getting his or her milk exclusively from your boob. What it actually means is that breastmilk — milk that literally comes from a breast — is considered breastmilk even though you aren't nursing your baby. If you've opted to formula feed your baby, that's OK, too.

Whether your baby is being breastfed or formula fed isn't the important part here — it's that your baby is going to need a bottle while he or she is at daycare. So before you've dropped your little one off at daycare or off at the sitter's place, Dr. Meeker recommends that you make sure of these three things:

  • That you prepare your bottles well (e.g., extra bottles, nipples)
  • That the bottles have been cleaned thoroughly, and
  • That you and the care provider have and are washing your hands sure you're washing your hands well.

As a side note and a quick reminder for you formula-feeding moms, make sure that you prepare the concentration of the formula well, so read the directions on the side of the can.

Interestingly, 60% of parents do combination feeding, which means that they're using a combination of formula and breastmilk for their babies, a method that Dr. Meeker said “works quite well for a lot of parents.”

One final tip: be extra sure that you label your baby's bottles in some way. If your baby has specific feeding needs or is allergic to something, it would be a terrible thing if your bottles got mixed up and made your baby sick. 

{ MORE: 5 Tips to Making Pumping Work at Work }

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Keep your daycare provider and your boss in the know

Dr. Meeker stressed the importance of having emergency contacts. If your baby gets sick with something or your baby gets hurt and your caretaker isn't able to get a hold of you, there needs to be someone that is responsible enough to get a hold of help and knowledgeable enough to keep your baby safe in the meantime.

“Make sure that person has emergency contact; make sure that person knows basic CPR or at least knows how to help your baby with choking,” Dr. Meeker said. However, I'm sure that you'd rather none of that happen and that you are only having to take precautions. One of the ways that you can ensure that your baby will be safe while they are in the care of someone else is by being very clear about feeding expectations. “Make sure your daycare provider feeds your baby the way that you'd like him or her to be fed,” Dr. Meeker said.

In addition to that, be very specific in asking what your employer expects of you. “It's very important to talk to your employer about what you will do if your baby is sick,” Dr. Meeker advised. “Ask ‘If my baby gets sick' — which your baby will get sick at some point — ‘can I telecommute? Can I work from home? How can I be the best employee to you — while my baby is sick — and also still be taking care of my baby?'” You re-entered the workforce to do just that — work. So make sure that, first and foremost, your baby is being taken care of. After that give your boss the priority.

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For other tips about how to give your baby the nutrition that he or she needs, visit the Infant Nutrition Council of America website.

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Maternity Leave Over? Here Are 3 Things You Need to Get in Line before You Go back to Work

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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