You likely know that there is a first, third, and second trimester of pregnancy. You might have heard of the fourth trimester, too (baby’s first three months of life and the early postpartum period). What about the fifth trimester? I hadn’t heard of it either. Lauren Brody wrote a book about this phase of early motherhood, which is when the working mother is “born.”Have you considered what this time will look like for you if you're planning to return to work?
Before Bodhi’s birth, I thought I would take a quick maternity leave. Maybe six to eight weeks tops. I had a business to run and I thought I’d want to get back into it. Surprisingly, I didn't feel ready, but around 11 weeks postpartum, I returned to the studio. Disclaimer: I know that not everyone even has this luxury.
We decided I would work 3.5 days/week (not including weekend teacher trainings). This was the dream, right? Work I loved and more bonding time with Bodhi? I would make those three “office” days count. I could pack everything I needed to do - private yoga sessions, classes, writing, marketing, emails, business development - right?
Wrong. I love having my own business; however, I was NOT prepared for how difficult it would be to work and also take care of my new baby.
I was not prepared for pumping breaks, brain fog, and the accidents and fussiness that seemed to always mean I was 5 -15 minutes late for everything (sometimes more). In the first six months of returning to work, I felt unhinged. I remember sitting on the floor in tears, trying to pump while answering emails and battling fatigue. I remember forgetting some of my pump parts that left me stranded with two back to back clients before the next pumping session. I remember trying to get to a doctor’s appointment by myself and getting frustrated with the car seat.
I do not write this to scare you. I write because becoming a working mom can be a shock, it can feel like a rebirth. And, my hope is that you will give yourself more space than I did. Space to breathe, to learn, to think and regroup in between tasks...rather than feeling like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. Here are some ideas to help make the transition into the fifth trimester:
- Give yourself space between meetings and appointments, rather than booking them back to back. Let go of being “super efficient” for a while, k?
- If you’re nursing, schedule your pump breaks (usually 15-20 minutes) for the same time each day, one session for each time your baby takes a bottle while you’re away. Get them on your calendar. Schedule around them.
- Try and do LESS. Aside from work, I thought I’d need to do it ALL at home, too - dishes, feeding, preparing meals, later making my baby food, vacuuming, doing a 60 minute yoga practice. If you can, hire help. Ask your partner to be in charge of meals for a little while. Move your body as much as you can. Yes 20 minutes is wonderful!
- Practice meditation. Seriously. Set aside just 5-10 minutes for deep breathing or use a guided meditation app and see how your frantic mind softens. Once your baby is in a “regular” sleep pattern, try and do this in the morning before he wakes up. I can promise you that over time, this will make a world of difference in your outlook and even your energy.
Look, you can’t tell your baby when to sleep. She doesn’t understand that you have a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes. Your boobs don’t stop producing milk just because you scheduled four meetings in a row. So slow down. Take deep breaths. Give yourself more space between to-do's than you did before. Give yourself grace.
With love dear mama,
P.S. Did going back to work shock you? What eased the transition? Please write in the comments!
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I share encouraging, informative, and down to earth messages, each with a healthy dose of humor and honesty. Basically, the kind of thing I'd want to read during pregnancy and later postpartum...because gosh motherhood is confusing. When you subscribe, you'll receive my messages on What I wish I would've known before baby & a quick guide on the Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.