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Making the Most of Your Maternity Leave

Maternity leave.

It’s the two best and worst words any mom wants to think about when she discovers she is pregnant. Best because it means time at home with her new baby. Worst because she knows that just like those fleeting newborn days, it won’t last forever. Making the most of your time with baby includes adjusting to a new person joining the family. And knowing that things won’t go as planned is an absolute necessity. However, having a game plan for how you spend your days with your little love will make your transition of becoming a mom and returning to work simple and satisfying.

From one working mom to another, here are some tips and tricks to help you get things in order in those first few chaotic weeks/months before you send your sweet one to another trusted caregiver’s arms.

Suggestions for Your Maternity Leave

Activity

So, fast-forward. You just had your baby. Yay! And probably a little ouch! There’s a good chance you don’t feel ready to take on the world just after birthing a human being and that’s perfectly normal!

Employ the help of friends who offer to come see the baby and be gracious when others offer to bring you a meal, clean up for you, or take an older child out for a bit. Your village is stepping up and your only job right now is to let them do so during your time of need, so you can focus on your family. When you feel up to it, some nice activities to do outside of the house might be a stroll in one of Sarasota’s many parks with baby (covered up with a sun shade, of course), attending local support or mommy and me groups for some much needed social interaction, or just enjoying sleep throughout the day. When you begin to feel like you are healed and comfortable, doing light housework is an easy way to begin your journey to your new normal.

Babywearing

Did we mention how much of a lifesaver babywearing will be when it comes to resuming normal activity? Babywearing allows you to move about hands-free while still giving you that much desired and much needed closeness to your baby. Productivity and baby snuggles? Yes, please! Sarasota moms, be sure to check out these fantastic local babywearing resources:

Breastfeeding

If you plan to breastfeed, have a breastfeeding goal and find out where to get help when you need it. Breastfeeding is supposed to be one of the most natural things a mother can do for her child, but as many veteran moms will tell you, it does not always come naturally and that is normal. I’ll say it once more — breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally and having a good support system along with the right resources can help you navigate this uncharted territory.

Also, knowing that goals are not finite and can change as needed due to unforeseen circumstances is just as necessary as the resources you will need to meet your goals. Some great local breastfeeding support and education resources include:

Pumping Before Returning to Work

Getting your body used to pumping and being able to store breast milk in your freezer during your maternity leave will reduce the amount of stress that comes with being a breastfeeding mom who is going back to work. There is a delicate balance between creating a solid supply that allows you to pump extra and store without inviting an oversupply which can lead to some uncomfortable complications like clogged ducts, mastitis and engorgement. Your milk supply is greatest in the morning, so finding time in those quiet early hours to pump on one breast possibly while baby nurses on the other will help you get a nice little freezer stash in no time and get your body acclimated to the pump.

Snuggles and Safe Sleeping Practices

The benefits of skin-to-skin and closeness in those early months are countless for both mom and baby, so take advantage of those newborn snuggles every day of your maternity leave. There’s no such thing as spoiling your baby with too much love. And it’s a great way for you to savor that time at home with your baby, but something to reserve for times that mom is awake. While doctors are now saying that room sharing can actually help prevent SIDS, it’s up to each mom to decide how she and baby can get the best and safest sleep. Figure out what works best for you and your baby and be sure that no one is in an unsafe sleeping situation during the process.

Self Care

Motherhood is a shock to the system in many ways. It’s normal to feel ups and downs during the first few weeks as the hormone levels fluctuate after birth and during breastfeeding. You’re becoming familiar with a brand new person and most likely, a new way of living. Bringing in a postpartum doula to assist you with this transition is becoming more popular in the motherhood community. Also acknowledging the signs of a change in your mood or personality that may be out of the ordinary is important as well.

If you feel that you may be experiencing more than the regular baby blues, reach out to resources like the Postpartum Society of Florida and attend a support meeting during your leave to talk to other moms who are encountering challenges as well. Keeping mom healthy is vital for her to nurture a healthy baby.

Ultimately, the best way to have an epic maternity leave is to let love be your guide. Covered in spit up? Haven’t had a shower in days? Feel like you’re in the running for the world record of most diaper changes in one day? No matter how much your world is rocked by this shiny new tiny human, at the end of the day, you’re doing a great job, mama. And your baby is enjoying every minute with you too.

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