6 Tips for a Smooth Transition Back to Work After Pregnancy

After maternity leave, going back to work—even if telecommuting—is, well, work.

Going back to work after pregnancy is a major transition, even when you work at home. Yes, you're not leaving your baby everyday as those who go back to work in an office. And yet, everything changes.

A baby is a game changer in every way, as is working at home. Try not to begin both new ventures simultaneously. If you don’t work at home already, but plan to start working at home after the baby is born, try to begin before the birth, in order to get a better idea of what issues and obstacles...MORE you'll face. At the very least, lay the foundations for your new venture during pregnancy and maternity leave.

  • 01 of 07

    Get advice. Make a plan.

    Working with baby

    If this is your first baby or you’re just getting started working from home, seek out others who’ve been down that road. Discuss going back to work in the About.com WAHM Forum. Read these tips for new moms. Gather as much information as possible and then begin applying it to your situation.

    If you would like to transition from an office to a telecommuting job, begin the process as early as you possibly can. Set up your home office while you’re still pregnant. And, of course, start planning for...MORE child care, although figuring the right amount of child care and what type of child care are just a start on the road back to work.

  • 02 of 07

    Take maternity leave.

    For those in a regular employment situation, this may seem obvious. But for the self-employed, maternity leave is much more complicated. Not only will you not be paid during maternity leave, the work won’t get done either. In traditional employment, your employer, perhaps with your help, would make arrangements to cover your workload while you were on maternity leave. When you work for yourself, you’ll need to figure this out yourself.

    But even if you can’t afford to take a long maternity leave,...MORE take some time off. You need time to focus on your family and yourself. Taking time off from work will allow you recover from the birth, bond with your baby and get back to work with a better sense of organization.

  • 03 of 07

    Get organized.

    Loose organization systems that may have been fine in pre-baby days will not work when sleep deprivation and an adorable-but-distracting baby are part of your life. Things that you once kept in your head will slip out if not captured somewhere. Multitasking becomes a way of life.

    Explore what works for you. Would an an old-fashioned calendar and a proper file cabinet or a Blackberry serve you better? Would a system of color-coded notes on a wall fit with your visual style of organization? Is it...MORE time to trade in the desktop computer for a laptop, so you can be nearer baby. Think about investing in some time management tools for your business. At the very least, take some time to think about how these tips for getting organized might help.

  • 04 of 07

    Work ahead.

    In some jobs this may be easy; in others impossible. Do what you can. If a new project is to begin after your maternity leave, start researching it early, so you’ll know what you’re in for. Will you need training or new certification for your job in the next year? Get that done before the baby arrives.

    Freelancers, ask clients what work they might need in the coming months. Projects are often assigned at the last minute simply because there’s not a pressing need on the client’s part to plan...MORE ahead. However, clients may be willing to do some long-term planning to help you manage the workload.

    Work ahead in your personal life. (The only year I completed Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving was the year my December baby was born.)

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Get help.

    People love to help when you’ve had a baby. Relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers and even acquaintances will offer. Take them up on it. Some, of course, only want to babysit, which you may or may not want at first. But others will help with less fun tasks like cooking and cleaning.

    But don’t just look to volunteers. Hiring temporary help may guide you toward some long-term solutions. A mother’s helper might be good temporary child care choice while you're figuring out your new routine....MORE And the same is true of a home business. Consider hiring someone to help during maternity leave and later. Are there parts of your job a freelancer or a student could do? If you would need to train someone, start the process early in your pregnancy.

  • 06 of 07

    Make it a team effort.

    Speaking of help, don’t look for "help" from your spouse. Help sounds optional; babies take a team effort. Just because you spend your days at home, that doesn’t mean you should do (or decide) everything related to the baby and the home. However, logic may dictate that you do more at-home tasks.

    Sit down and talk with your spouse about the amount of time you each expect and want to spend on various tasks like child care, work, personal time and together time. These expectations are likely...MORE to be quite different for each, but an open discussion will shed light on potential problems. As with organization, you may find that systems that worked in the pre-baby days (like, say, one person doing all the cleaning) are no longer workable.

  • 07 of 07

    Work smarter. Be flexible.

    Use all tools at your disposable to move through your workload efficiently. This includes work and parenting tools--swing and sling for baby, specialized software and smartphone for mom. Time saving techniques that once seemed unnecessary pay dividends now. And multitasking effectively becomes an important skill.

    Getting organized goes a long way toward working smarter, but not all the way. And that's where flexibility comes in. No matter how organized you are there will be days or weeks when...MORE it all falls apart. Nothing stays the same with kids. They constantly grow and change. You'll need to roll with long-term and short-term changes in routine. For instance, naptime, once your lifeline as a work at home mom, goes away eventually.