Even if you made a solid plan with your boss before you went out on Mat leave, returning to work is still chaotic. There are caregivers to interview, drop off/ pick-up logistics to arrange, and the voices in your head to wrestle with over the guilt of leaving your baby behind.
Here are our top tips for how to plan for a successful return to work - and all the gear you need to keep up breastfeeding & pumping in the office:
1. Have a girls night with a few friends who’ve made the transition and ask for their most specific and actionable advice - even better if you have a friend in the same industry as you. And make sure you read this book: The Fifth Trimester - by Lauren Brody Smith - it’s an amazing resource for moms planning the return to work (and it’s full of specific to-do’s and talking points).
2. Invest in a great handsfree pump (most insurance and medicaid will cover pumps!): I used the Spectra 2 for the last 16 months, but it is a beast compared to the newer daintier Elvie, Freemie, and Willow pumps that just slide discreetly into your bra. (I’ve heard tons of positive reviews from other moms about the Freemie, and the Willow got top marks by product testers, but requires you to buy unique storage bags). Check out the reviews of the classic Spectra and Medela here.
Love that both the Elvie and the Willow pumps are hands-free and cord free (you can actually pump while in a meeting!)
3. Buy a couple amazing nursing bras - you’ll be topless in your “mothers’ room” at work, so pick up a bra or 2 that you’re ok with everyone at work seeing you in (aka, leave the saggy sports bra that you baby already spit up on 1,000 times in your sock drawer). We love for the Bravado clip on bra, and Targets super cute front closure lacy racer-back. Lively’s sexy front closure is great for the slip in pump cups (like Willow), and this all-lace racer-back from Target is super comfy - with enough sass to make you feel a little like your old self again ;-)
So glad to see that we're finally moving beyond the boring old style nursing bras - these are so cute you won't mind when you're colleague walks in on you pumping!
4. Go through your closet and pre-test, try-on and style, all your possible work outfits - or at least assess them in your mind for ease of un-dress. Dresses with a back zipper mean you’re basically naked to pump, and button down shirts pretty much just let your new mummy-tummy shiver exposed for all to see. This is why we designed The Dress - so you wouldn’t have to feel so exposed at work! Check out these other super cute breastfeeding friendly designs at Madri and Loyal Hana.
Designed by moms who've been in the fashion business for years, the functional and flattering designs from leSolstice, Loyal Hana, and Madri are clothes that you actually will get excited about going back to work in.
We love this blue suit from Madri as a Fall transitional piece, and this black top from Loyal Hana as a wardrobe staple.
5. Add versatile transition pieces to your wardrobe, like the LBD for nursing, aka The Dress, this cute dressy tank top from Latched Mama, or a fabulous top with hidden zips, and lots and lots of scarves.
These NomiNaomi scarves can add the extra layer of polish to your LBD and base layers, and are great for hiding leaks, spit-up, and wrinkles!
And this fab monochrome top with hidden zippers from Loyal Hana, or this flowy tank top from LatchedMama would be super cute under a blazer for Fall!
We love this lush cranberry tote from Rebecca Minkoff for a back-to-work treat, and this super cute backpack from Freshly Picked (designed with lots of special pockets for stashing all the pump parts).
7. Block off pumping time in your calendar - tell your team and anyone else who might schedule something that these times are sacred, aka, don’t schedule on top of them. Being transparent about your need to pump will actually create a more supportive environment than if you try to sneak away.
8. Make friends with the other new moms at work - you’ll soon be seeing a loottt of each other in the mom’s room, or break room/bathroom where you pump. Shake off that super awkward feeling of talking to that woman from Product who has her shirt off, and the HR manager who has her dress around her waist - you’ll find a great new community here, and learn valuable insight on how they are navigating their return to work. You’ll also end up borrowing spare freezer bags and pump accessories, so be sure to be nice and pay it forward.
9. Bring extra snacks, for you and to share with the moms in your pumping room (great way to break the ice!). Have we mentioned “snacks” enough? - you will be as hungry as a teenage boy for the next few months (and that junk food pantry at work of chips and popcorn just won’t cut it).
Apricots, walnuts, cups of oatmeal, tubes of nut-butter, and all these yummy protein packed recipes on Epicurious are filling and known for helping with breastmilk supply.
10. Block your calendar for when you have a hard exit time and need to get home to relieve your nanny or run by nursery. Another plug for for proactive calendaring: Be open and transparent with your team about when you need to leave and why, and you’ll be surprised how many other people are also under time pressure to pick up their kids from caregivers, too. Creating an open dialogue will give you an opportunity to create a more supportive work environment, and will give you the ability to keep up your obligations to your caregivers without feeling guilty for “sneaking out” in the middle of a last minute meeting.
What other great products, advice, and strategies helped you return to work after babies? We’d love to hear and will post updates to the blog! email us firstname.lastname@example.org