Your maternity leave has flown by and no one could have prepared you for the exhilirating and exhausting experiences of these past few months. But how are you feeling about leaving your little one? Guilty? Uncertain? Elated? The exact opposite of how you thought you’d feel?

It’s hard to focus on a new marketing campaign when you’re separated  from your little miracle. You’re going to struggle with feelings of doubt, guilt and frustration for the first few weeks. Expect the first month to be a challenge and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Accept that you may have to ‘fake it til you make it’. Half of all new Moms go back to work during their baby’s first year. Moms easily get caught up in guilt over failings in all areas of parenting. In a Working Mother survey, two thirds of all the working moms surveyed felt separation anxiety and guilt. Your baby will be fine, but it may take you a while to adjust.  When you return home and see how happy your baby is, your own emotions will calm. If after several months you are still feeling like you’ve made the wrong choice, and you can afford it,  ask about moving to part time or having a flexible schedule where you work from home a couple of days a week, or even quit your job.

Here are a few tips to relieve the separation anxiety.
* Put a photo of baby on your desk.
* Ask your caregiver to send you photos and videos and progress reports during the day.
*Don’t call too frequently to check up on baby.
2. Get organized.
* Get yourself to bed no later than 9 pm because you’ll need to get up early.
* Do everything you can the night before, including prepping bottles, showering, laying out clothes, and packing your lunch.
* Practice your routine a few times before the big day, so you’ll be confident and calm.
3. Make it a Team Effort.
* Ask your spouse to take on more duties during this time, or get some extra household help.
* Clearly designate tasks and decide what each of you can handle so you get more sleep and are easier to live with.
* Sleep when the baby sleeps rather than doing an exta set of laundry, or tidying up the kitchen.
* One husband only took off one week when the baby was born and a second week on the first week Mom started back to work. This way all she had to do was get herself to work, and didn’t need to worry about baby. It was also sweet that the two of them had that quality time together.
* Another way to ease back into work is to start mid-week or only work part time the first week.

4. If you’ll be nursing, be committed and protect  pumping time by blocking it off on your schedule.
* Buy the best pump you can afford that will pump both sides at once and be hands free so you can study a report while pumping.
* Have one for home and one for work if possible, and at work, get extras of the parts that need washing.
* Keep extra tops, bras and breast pads in your office for leaks.
* If you don’t have an office, ask ahead if there is a lactation room or another room you can use and put a discrete note on the door to prevent interruptions.
* Pump as soon as you get to work because you’ll have more milk then and you’ll be sure to get it done before starting projects.
* Maintain regular pumping times so you don’t get engorged, since it can lead to mastitis. Watch videos or pictures of your baby to stimulate milk production.
5. Be all there at work and at home.
The more you focus on the tasks at hand the quicker the day goes by. When you get home, cuddle with your little one skin to skin in in your darkened bedroom and forget about unfinished tasks at work. Going back to work after a baby is never easy, but as you  follow these tips the transition will be smoother.

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Why is it that babies of Mexican immigrants in the US have lower infant mortality in the first few weeks of life than average American women? In rural Mexico, Hispanic mothers also avoid postpartum depression, compared to 15 percent of US mothers. What are they doing differently? They don’t have insurance or top notch medical care or education. One reason is the “cuarentena” — 40 days of completely compulsory nurturing for the new Mom. For the first six weeks, family and neighbors come together to ensure the mother eats, sleeps and bonds with the new baby. There’s no cleaning, cooking, or errands. The outcome? A happy mother and a happy baby.
New mothers we see using our agency are typically sucessful professionals between 30 to 40, independent, with successful careers, used to being in control of their lives and overcoming challenges. But bringing home a new baby is overwhelming, and nothing can prepare her for that first one. Hospitals are not designed for sleeping, so by the time she arrives home with baby, she’s utterly spent. Not used to asking for help, her whole identity has radically morphed into how successful she feels she is at mothering. When I had my firstborn, I’d never changed a

diaper! How did that happen? In our culture, we live far from parents and extended family, and we think we should be able to do it all.

When my second son was born, I had the blues. I wasn’t feeling any emotion towards my baby, and I’d run out of diapers. I stared out the window at the clean ones fluttering on the line. This was 1968 and dryers had yet to be invented. I was so emotionally spent, I couldn’t go get one. I finally got up to get a diaper, and a few months later, my emotions returned, but that experience has given me an inkling of understanding of what others go through.
Three causes of postpartum depression are a lack of sleep, poor diet, and clutter or disorganization. How can we nurture new mothers so they can successfully nurture their newborns?

  1. Sleep is crucial now, but hard to get. Be sure the new mom naps during the baby’s nap. Get someone to take the baby at least a couple of hours a day so she can rest. The tiredness is intense. If the Mom is nursing, she can pump for one feeding so that she gets five to six hours of sleep at night.
  2. Get some help. Being a new mom can be lonely and isolating if dad is back to work and family isn’t close by. A friend who can fold laundry or spend time with the new baby so Mom can get a nap or a shower is invaluable. This isn’t as crucial for new moms, because they can sleep when the baby sleeps day and night, but after a second child, it’s helpful for a friend to come and take the older child on an outing. It’s pretty rough being dethroned, and the older child needs some special attention.
  3. Supplying meals for a new mom is so helpful. New moms need lots of veggies, foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and B vitamins such as Riboflavin to bolster her against postpartun depression. Friends can send a gift certificate for your favorite resturant, or bring a home cooked meal that can be warmed up or frozen for later. is the perfect way to organize meals! It’s free and easy!
  4. If Grandma can’t help or if you need space from family, hire a mother’s helper, a newborn specialist  or baby nurse, or a doula. A newborn specialist can be 24 hours 7 days per week, or just nights. A doula is there more for the mom, preparing meals, taking over baby care for a few hours, preparing meals, doing housework, or a full night shift. Both are helpful for answering questions, hands on education, and reassuring the new mom that she’s doing a great job.
  5. If there’s someone doing housework, mom will feel free to rest, since naps are her only time to get caught up.
  6. Listen. Care. Validate her feelings. She may break down and cry, feeling inadequate. What she needs now is understanding, listening, caring. Let her vent. Ask questions. Be curious. Don’t try to solve the immediate problem but ask more about how she’s feeling, giving her your time, and letting her know you care. Most of all, she needs to know  she’s doing a wonderful job with her newborn.
  7. Help her connect with a mom’s group or friends she can go on play dates with.

Offer to run errands for her or with her or babysit so she can get out of the house by herself. Go with her for her six week check-up. Offer to babysit so she she can go out with her husband for a few hours.
So let’s learn from our neighborns south of the border and do a better job of taking care of our mothers by making sure that they get

  • plenty of sleep
  • nutritious food
  • rest
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