Tips for New Moms Heading Back to Work + Pumping at Work

Tips for New Moms Heading Back to Work + Pumping at Work

Going back to work after having Jack was undoubtedly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I knew it was going to be difficult pulling out of our driveway on my first day headed back to the office, but I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreak that ensued when I kissed my sweet boy goodbye for the first time.

When you think about it, for many new moms, the first time you leave your baby for an extended period of time probably will be when you go back to work. By the time I left Jack, I had been with him basically nonstop for 53 weeks straight when counting my pregnancy. How painful it was to leave my baby’s side after spending virtually 24/7 together for an entire year! So yes it’s reasonable to say from the outside looking in that going back to work for a new mom is hard, but until you’re in her shoes it’s hard to imagine just how hard.

With that being said, it really did get easier as each day passed. (I didn’t think so in the beginning, but slowly everyone does adjust and the goodbye’s get a tiny bit easier…) I am very thankful to be working part-time now, but I’ve still learned a few tips over the last months since I’ve been back that helped to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Ease the Transition

You know the saying, “It’s just like ripping off a band aid?” Well, when it comes to going back to work after maternity leave, I wouldn’t use this as your main form of action. Sometimes emotional pain really can hurt as bad as physical and with an event as sensitive as this, easing the transition is probably best.

There are a few ways you can go about this. First, if your employer allows, I would definitely try and start back part-time before transitioning into full-time. This is something I did not do, but wish I would have! You may think your employer wouldn’t go for it, but you may be pleasantly surprised by the answer you receive. Think of it this way, if you wanted to take 12 full weeks off, to be home with your baby, asking if you could do one or two days a week from weeks 10-12 may be a good idea. It would give you time to slowly adjust back into your schedule, and your employer would probably be grateful to have you there a day or two rather than not at all. Or, maybe you could work three or four days a week for the first month after returning from your full maternity leave. Most employers truly do respect the time a new mother wants to be home with her baby, and they would rather have you back eventually than never. One thing I’ve learned is that it never hurts to ask!!

Second, if you have to start back full-time, I would choose a date that does not fall on a Monday. After being off for weeks, beginning a five day work week immediately can be quite daunting and overwhelming. Shoot for a Wednesday or Thursday start date, or choose a week where a holiday falls if you can. Trust me, you will be so thankful to have a short work week during that first one back!

My last tip for easing the transition is to delay the regular babysitter or daycare. My first day back to work, my mom took Jack, which truly made a world of difference in how I coped. I would highly recommend having your husband or a family member stay home with your baby (if possible!) on the first day you go back to work. You are already going through a huge adjustment by starting back to work, and if you can delay one more big change during that first day or week, it is so worth it.

Plan Ahead

I know those last few days being home are precious and you want to soak in as much time with your baby as you can, but make sure to take a little time and plan ahead for the work week as well. Those first few mornings I felt so frazzled as I tried to adjust to my new routine. Before baby, I would go to the gym, shower, make breakfast and watch a little morning news while sipping my coffee. After baby I would have to nurse him as soon as we woke up, and then get ready quickly so I could help get him changed, dressed and his diaper bag packed and his bottles made for the  day. My husband helped with a lot of this (I would feed, then I would hand off Jack and his daddy would burp him and change him..) and he would drive him to my parents’ house for the day, but he also had to get ready for work too so it was definitely a team effort. On the weekend before you start back, try and do some meal prepping and lunch packing for the week. Also, laying out your clothes for the week makes your getting ready time in the mornings go a lot smoother, either with a baby or not. Also, I tried to make his bottles and pack his diaper bag the night before to save time in the morning. This may sound like little things, but saving 20 minutes here and there really does add up on those early mornings – especially those following newborn sleepless nights!

Another big item that takes up a lot of time if you’re a breastfeeding mother is packing your pump bag! Make sure that you have all of your pump parts washed and dried and packed the night before. There were quite a few mornings when I would think I was on time and all ready to go only to realize that my pump bag still needed packed. Pumping at work is tough stuff and takes commitment and patience, but it has gone really well for me! I typically feed Jack at 5:00 and then pump every three hours at work, usually at 9, noon and three.

I have seen some really big lists for what to have on hand when pumping, but these are my simple must have items for pumping at work:

Tips for New Mamas Heading Back to Work + Pumping at Work

Have the right system!

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

Stay Hydrated!

  • S’well ‘Sparkling Champagne’ Water Bottle Or water bottle of your choice – This is a MUST! I love this bottle though since I’ve found scientifically that having a pretty water bottle specifically correlates with drinking more H2O! 😉 

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

Clean up!

  • Medela Quick Clean Breastpump & Accessory Wipes (I love these for a quick cleanup in between pumping sessions. I then just wash my bottles and parts fully when I get home. This keeps everything sterile, but saves so much time and extra work by not washing everything after each session.)

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

Save your Milk.

  • Medela Pump & Save Breastmilk Storage Bags You have to store your milk somewhere, and I’ve just found that using storage bags are much easier than saving in the bottle. These bags are even more convenient than most because you can pump right into the bag, which can make cleanup that much easier.

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

What to wear?

  • Cake ‘Rock Candy’ Seamless Nursing Bra –> This is the BEST and most comfy nursing bra ever! Although a nursing bra really isn’t a be-all and end-all since you can still get the job done with a non-nursing bra, trust me when I say that it makes life 10 times easier. I also suggest wearing clothes that are easy to remove. Button downs are now your best friend!!

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

Time on hands…

  • Entertainment like THIS!!!

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

Fuel your body!

  • Siggi’s Yogurt –> Oh my goodness, I just recently tried Siggi’s yogurt for the first time and am obsessed! It is a little pricey, but it’s worth it a couple times a week. If you don’t think you like yogurt, seriously try Siggi’s. It is so thick and creamy and not too sweet!

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

  • Archer Farms Unsalted Raw Mixed Nuts –> I love this mix filled with almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios, which are also the only ingredients in the container. Sometimes you have to be picky when buying nuts because they are overly doused in extra oils, and honestly they don’t need any extras!

Tips for Returning to Work as a New Mama

So there you have it! Some of my best tips for starting back to work after maternity leave. Although these ideas may not make your heart hurt any less, I hope they help you to feel more organized and make the transition feel much easier.

You tell me:

  • What are your best tips and must haves for going back to work after maternity leave, or for pumping at work? Did I miss anything specific?
Jack’s Nursery Tour

Jack’s Nursery Tour

My baby boy is 20 weeks old today and I simply can’t believe it – time is just flying! I just realized this week that I’ve yet to share pictures of his nursery…oops!Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn KidsI kept waiting for the space to be ‘finished’ so to speak, with the perfect amount of pictures on the walls and all the little details fitting into place. However, I still haven’t quite gotten around to ‘completing’ it almost five months after his birth. Although, I do have to admit that it’s come a long way since the beginning! I wish we had before pictures, but this room received new carpet, new doors, baseboards, a chair rail, and fresh paint.

Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn Kids

Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn KidsWhat I’ve realized  is that a sweet little nursery really doesn’t need a lot of extra stuff to make it cozy and comfortable. I like a neat and tidy space that is both simple and classic, and I don’t have a ton of odds-and-ends in the room. I do however love the clean and easygoing space we’ve created for him.Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn KidsI still do need to print a few more pictures, especially from our newborn session, and would love a shelf or two hanging on the walls, but we’ll get there eventually. The funny thing is that Jack doesn’t even realize that mommy doesn’t think his room is ‘complete!’ To him, its his room and his own safe, fun and inviting space. Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn KidsAll the pictures and decorations in the world couldn’t make up for the late night cuddling that takes place in the rocker, and the sweet giggles and coos that have sounded in that tiny space.Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn Kids

Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn Kids

Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn Kids

Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn Kids

Jack's Nursery Tour - Navy, White and Beige - Pottery Barn Kids

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.09.45 AM

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.08.42 AMHere’s all the shopping details of Jack’s Nursery:

My First Vlog! Blog Schedule, 21 Day Fix and Calories

My First Vlog! Blog Schedule, 21 Day Fix and Calories

Hey guys, happy Tuesday! I’ve been busy enjoying my very first week of working part-time and spending extra time with my son. I wanted to try something new today though by sharing my very first ‘Vlog Post’! I have toyed with the idea of sharing video blogs for years, but I’ve never taken the initiative to just dive in and talk about what’s on my heart. Some people may think vlogging is easier than writing a post, but in my opinion it is much harder! There is no backspace button, there is no overanalyzing of word choices and content. I just kind of let myself talk and see where it goes!

Happy Wife Healthy Life Video Blog Series

In today’s vlog, I have a very special guest – my baby Jack! I also discuss my blogging schedule now that I’m working part-time, and how my first week on the 21 Day Fix has gone so far. I also touch on my thoughts surrounding Shakeology and calories on the Fix.

I would LOVE if you shared your feedback on the Vlog in the comments section of this post. Are Vlogs something you would like to see more of around here? Do you have any specific questions you would like answered in a Vlog? Let me know your thoughts!!

Without further ado, here is my first Video Blog!

When the Plan Changes.

When the Plan Changes.

So, this week hasn’t exactly gone as planned. Remember that post I shared Monday all about my current plan to get back on the healthy bandwagon? Well, it turns out that I needed to modify that plan just a bit. I started off the week strong, determined and motivated, and then an hour or so after arriving to work on Monday all of that changed.

My dreaded mastitis symptoms came on fast and furious, and before I knew it I was back home in bed sleeping off my high fever. I felt so incredibly frustrated and defeated. I had not dealt with a case since Thanksgiving, and I suddenly found myself battling it the day I was to start my new healthy, life-changing plan. I gave myself about an hour to whine a bit, shed a few tears and feel sorry for myself before I starting considering my next step.

A Change of Plans.

I realized in that moment there is always going to be something in the path blocking and deterring me from achieving my goals. It may not always be mastitis, but there will always be a roadblock standing in the way, its job to stop me from getting to where I want to go.

The truth is there’s never a perfect time to begin a change. There is also no such thing as a perfect plan. There will constantly be challenges in life and we will stumble along the way, but it’s how we face trying times that matters. I could have easily given myself permission Monday to give up on the whole Fix.  I struggle with being an all-or-nothing person at times, and if I wasn’t going to do all 21 days full out, then I figured what’s the point of even starting?

Fortunately though, after a few irrational thoughts I am typically able to pull myself out of a ‘poor me’ type of mindset and start thinking rationally again. Tough times is what builds our character. This is my fifth bout of mastitis. I know what to do to heal, and what to expect when it comes to the timeline of getting better. As long as I keep my fever under control with fluids, Tylenol and rest, then I can manage the pain by breathing through it, using heat, and saying lots of prayers. I remind myself that I’m strong physically and mentally, and that I have gotten through it in the past and I can make it through this time too.

I also remembered that I had meal prepped a ton of healthy foods over the weekend in preparation for the 21 Day Fix and it was such a blessing! I had a refrigerator jam packed with fresh salads, cut fruits, lean proteins, and healthy carbs to fuel and nourish my body. So although I’m taking a few days off from exercise to give my body time to heal, I am able to follow the 21 Day Fix meal plan to a tee.

A Change of Plans.

My wonderful, amazing parents even took Jack for the night so I could get a full night’s sleep without interruption, since that’s really the big thing that helps me to heal. I missed my baby boy so much, but I also know that I’m not the mom he needs when I can barely take care of myself while sick. I gratefully accepted Jack’s Grammie and Papaw’s offer, and may or may not have snuggled with one of his blankets at night just because it smelled like him!

Baby Jack

Trust me, I realize how incredibly blessed I am to have parents close and who love my son as much as I do! And not only am I blessed to have thoughtful parents, I have a husband who took care of me while I was sick. He made dinner and served me in bed, filled my water glass literally 10 times throughout our evening, night and day, and even got up with me in the middle of the night when I would have to work through the pain.

So in this time of trial, I can actually find good in it when I look beyond the surface layer. I have the healthy food and rest I need to heal my body. (And I ‘m feeling 100% better only three days later because of it!!) I have a wonderful family who changes their own plans at a moments notice to help me. Jack has grandparents who are obsessed with him, and he also has a daddy who loves his mommy (and vice versa!) very much.

There truly is so much joy in those moments of heartache, pain, frustration and suffering if we just open our eyes, look around, and find the unexpected good in our circumstance. Unfortunately, sometimes it does take trials for us to look for the good, as its easy to miss it during our day-to-day lives. Hard times are meant to grow our character and to produce a more thankful and gracious spirit.

My Next 21 Days of Health

My Next 21 Days of Health

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope each of you have had a nice start to the week so far. In case you missed Saturday’s post, I shared the winners of the two giveaways I held last week! Make sure to check it out and see if your name was chosen!

I believe I’ve been pretty honest about my struggle with postpartum exercise. I’ve mentioned before how glad I was to have kept up with my fitness routine throughout my entire pregnancy. I think it helped over the course of 41+ weeks to keep my energy and stamina up, to regulate my ever changing hormones, to allow me to gain a healthy amount of weight, and to then give my body a chance to bounce back quickly. I absolutely cannot say enough about prenatal exercise! It is so incredibly important for both a healthy mind and body, and a healthy baby!

21 Day Fix - Postpartum Fitness - Beachbody

However, since having Jack via c-section and then dealing with multiple cases of mastitis, I  have had a hard time getting back into a health and fitness routine again. It turns out that exercise and eating healthy is so much harder with a baby – who would have thought?! Between pure exhaustion from late night feedings and having way less time on my hands than I used to, I’ve been lucky to get in a couple walks a week at most. When you pair my lack of exercise with eating way way too much sugar and too many treats, I feel as if I’ve been walking around in a daze. To put it simply – I am lethargic and my stamina stinks!

While I was pregnant, I also gave myself free reign to eat whatever I wanted. Although this was wonderful for both my soul and my perspective toward food and weight gain, it hasn’t been so great for my health. I have had a hard time passing up on treats and junk food simply because I became so accustomed to eating it. Sugar really is incredibly addicting and I’m noticing lately that I can’t say no even when I’ve had plenty and that is not good! I need to relearn what a portion size looks like too as I’ve noticed lately that I pile on as much food on my plate as I do on my husband’s.

Now, let me just say that I am one hungry girl! I do notice with breastfeeding I am starving all the time and can literally eat anything and everything put in front of me. However, I know there is a healthier way to keep my calories up without constantly reaching for potato chips and ice cream. I don’t intend to cut calories at all, but instead want to choose the right calories – lots of healthy fats, lean proteins and more vegetables.

21 Day Fix - Postpartum Fitness - Beachbody

Because of this, I decided to begin the 21 Day Fix challenge that is being hosted by my good friend Ashley! I have looked at a lot of plans for getting back on the healthy bandwagon, but this plan has blown me away with its wholehearted approach to portion size and its focus on nutrition. No food groups are eliminated and you can pick your calorie level to find the right amount that works for you. I also love that this is a plan that can be used forever. Learning portion control is a life skill. This may be called the ’21 Day Fix,’ but for me it is so much more than that. I want it to be a ‘Fix’ that carries over for life.

21 Day Fix - Postpartum Fitness - Beachbody

I also purchased a bag of Shakeology to go with the plan. I know ‘meal replacement shakes’ can get a bad wrap, but I appreciate how Shakeology can be used in the best way possible for each individual person. For me, it will be a snack way more often than a meal, and if it is a meal then you can bet there will be a healthy dose of peanut butter and banana added to it! Also, another thing I desperately need as a new mama is energy! If Shakeology helps me to have a little less coffee and way less diet pop and sugar to give me that energy then that’s a bonus. I’m also not going to sugarcoat the fact that the price for a bag of Shakeology really threw me for a loop. Since I’m about to go part-time in February, our grocery budget is set and tight! However, I do want to see what all the fuss is about, and I figure that if I’m going to do the plan, I’m going to do it right! I will be sure to let everyone know my true feelings on the shake as the challenge progresses!

21 Day Fix - Postpartum Fitness - Beachbody

So – there’s my big plan for finding exercise + healthy eating peace again! What this is NOT is a diet where I will be cutting calories and exercising like crazy. What it IS however, is a chance for me to clean up a few bad habits I’ve picked up over the past year and get back on track at loading my plate with the right nutrients!

I will be sharing a lot more of my experience along the way here on the blog and on instagram!

I hope you’ll follow along!!

** EDITED – I’ve hit a bit of a health snag already! Follow my Instagram to hear more about how I’m handling a short term change to my plan. 

Tell Me:

  • Have you ever done the 21 Day Fix? What was your experience on the plan?
  • If you’ve had a baby, did you struggle to get back into a healthy routine? How did you get yourself out of a fitneses/healthy eating rut?