Transitioning back to work

I'll be writing a 4 piece series with Philips Avent in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week in August.

This is my final piece: Transitioning back to work. Have you read the first few pieces? I wrote about my pre-preparation for Aidan's arrival, bringing Aidan home and a dad's role.

I won't lie. Going back to work was hard. The first day I left Aidan, I cried. Honestly, I hated going back to work and being apart from Aidan.

It is still hard but it's much better now. My last piece will focus on how I managed to transition back to work.

Pre-preparation.

16 weeks of maternity leave is way too short. Seriously. In the beginning, Skai and I thought of sending Aidan to my MIL's place (she will be the primarily caregiver while I'm back at work) a week before I started work so that it would be easier for me to be apart from Aidan.

Fast forward to week 15. It didn't happen. I felt that it was my last solo week with Aidan and it was so precious. Clutched onto him. Planning did not turn out well.

Travel arrangements.

We had to send Aidan to my in-laws place which wasn't near to where we are currently residing nor either of our workplace. While we tried a few arrangements, the final (and best way) is for Skai to send Aidan to my in-law's place while I travel to work myself.

A typical day would be: Skai wakes up and prepares for work while I latch Aidan. After which I'll prepare Aidan to go out, pack the frozen milk into the cooler bag and carry (and obsessively kiss) Aidan to the door and see them out.

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Hate saying goodbye to this face every morning. :'(

Skai would travel to his mum's place, leave Aidan and travel to work.

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While Skai travels to work, I would then express milk, get ready for work, pack my cooler bag with my breast pump, bottles etc and travel to work.

This arrangement works best for us as compared to both of us leaving at the same time to his mum's place then off to work ourselves. Both of us get the most shut-eye this way.

Mental preparation.

I prepared myself mentally before going back to work. After all it has been months since I worked. All I knew during my maternity leave was being a mum to Aidan. I had totally forgotten about work and the respective processes. It didn't help that I was working in a fast paced advertising agency.

Thankfully, Skai knew about my anxieties and he comforted and encouraged me. Without his encouragement, I might have had a harder time at work.

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Skai also got his family members to send pictures and videos of Aidan sporadically and sent it to me sporadically during work.

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My mum also sends me plenty of pictures of her selfies with Aidan. I don't think Aidan approves of grandma's many selfies. HAHAHA.

Pumping at work.

My colleagues have been very supportive of me. They tried to ease me into work slowly, as best as they could. They also understood the need for me to express milk during working hours. While honestly, my office building wasn't the best place for a nursing mum, I tried to make do with what I had and also made alternative plans.

I tried to schedule my pumping sessions closer to lull periods or lunch time. While I had to skip lunches with my colleagues (due to clashing timings), I think it worked out well without much disruption to my work.

Things that worked out.
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I was also glad that I had started pumping and bottle-feeding Aidan prior to returning to work. That way, I did not have a hard time transitioning to pumping (as compared to exclusively latching back then) and Aidan didn't reject bottles.

My tips to mothers who are returning to work:

1. Establish a routine.
Be it from travel arrangements to daily pumping to introducing bottles (though I would suggest only after 2 months!) to your LO. While I was mainly exclusively latching, I still introduced bottles during my last month prior to returning to work to ensure that Aidan doesn't reject bottles when I return to work. It is also a good time for daddies to take over and bond with their kids!

2. Always leave earlier
Everything that can screw up, will likely happen. Your baby might decide to nurse longer, or have a meltdown or traffic can be killer that day. When you have ample time, you won't feel a need to rush nor will it affect your mood.

3. Find a good pump
It's important to find a pump that works for you. Not all pumps are suitable for everyone. Find one that meets your need. For me, I wanted something portable. The Philips Avent Comfort Double Electric Breast Pump offers portability and is gentle to my breasts. Also you can easily store in the bottle and feed to baby immediately (but of course, you'll need to add on the teats).

4. Don't leave pumping to the last minute.
I did it once and I felt ready to burst. Look for areas to where you can pump. My office has only one nursing cubicles and the next closest one is about 8 minutes away. Once I went to pump at the very last minute and the cubicle was occupied, I spent the next 8 minutes rushing to another building and almost ready to cry at any time. Leave earlier.

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5. Bring something that reminds you of baby.
Especially during pumping times. Looking at Aidan's pictures and videos made it much easier. I also bring his handkerchief.

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6. Prepare your gear.
Some of my friends prefer to pump and pour into milk bags immediately. For me, I prefer to use bottles and store only when I'm at home. Find what works best for you. I also bring extra icepacks just in case I get stuck outside. Must make sure my precious liquid gold makes its way home!

7. Ask for support.
Be it from colleagues or family. It really isn't easy transitioning back to work. It's been more than a month since I'm back to work and I still miss Aidan so bad everyday. Knowing that Aidan is in the best care with family members makes me feel better. Also, the knowledge that colleagues are supportive of my breastfeeding journey (though they mainly know of me pumping haha) really helps.

I hope these tips help!

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I’m glad that Philips Avent has accompanied Skai and I on our breastfeeding journey and made it that much easier to transition back to work with its range of convenient solutions.

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Daddies also play an equally important role in the parenting journey and in helping mothers transition back to the workplace. The support of daddies really does leave us with more time for the best things in life, that is to enjoy those precious moments with our little ones.

nadnut.com together with Philips Avent will be giving away an Avent hamper worth S$140.40 consisting of:

Philips Avent Comfort Manual Breast Pump (RRP: $99)
Philips Avent Breastmilk Storage Cups (RRP: $31.50)
Philips Avent Breastmilk Storage Bags (RRP: $9.90)

Simply leave a comment over at my IG post or FB photo telling me why you'll like to win the hamper with the hashtags #feedingourfuture #PhilipsAvent by 10th September! Winner will be announced on 12th September! All the best!

I really enjoyed writing these pieces in support of World Breastfeeding Week. Will definitely pen more thoughts about my motherhood journey soon. Do keep a lookout for it!

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