8 ways to have a peaceful return to work from maternity leave

Spend quality time with colleagues

Going to coffee or lunch with some of your close colleagues is an easy way to reconnect after a long absence and embrace your social side. Scheduling a few outings in advance also breaks up the workday and gives you something positive to anticipate on your calendar.

Feel good in your clothes

It’s time to leave your maternity sweats at home. Treat yourself to a few new pieces that will make you feel excited to get dressed in the morning. The confidence boost will go a long way to enhance your day!

Stretch each time you visit the bathroom

Don’t bring your yoga mat into the ladies room, but do go into the handicap stall and take a gentle twist, reach your arms over your head, or hang forward like a rag doll to stretch your neck. It will give tired shoulder muscles a break.

Eat healthy snacks.

Hunger pains can be stronger when you’re nursing, so keep yourself well-fed at the office. Bring healthy snacks like yogurt and hummus to keep in the refrigerator, and dried nuts and fruit for your desk drawer.

Refresh your desk

You sit here for long stretches of time, so make your desk inviting. A soft lamp can temper overhead fluorescent lighting, potted succulents provide a bit of beauty, and a framed photo of your baby will help the space feel cozy.

The night before returning to work after maternity leave, I did what many new mothers do:

I cried.

Then I cried again the next morning as my husband pushed the stroller out the front door to drop our son off at daycare.

An hour later, only slightly more composed, I walked into my office building with a large pumping bag slung over my shoulder.

Although my desk looked the same as the day I left it months earlier, so much had changed since then. I was returning to an old position with a new body, new outlook, and a new routine that revolved around feeding my son in three-hour intervals.

The previous four months had already been marked by a series of transitions like healing from birth, learning to breastfeed, and accomplishing daily tasks with one hand while holding a baby in my arm.

Returning to work was simply another transition to navigate, signifying the end of the fourth trimester and the beginning of a new routine for the entire family.

Although I’d known the moment was coming for months, it didn’t make the process easier emotionally. The first week was a predictable mix of tears, frustration, and sadness while I eased back into projects, developed a new pumping schedule, and missed my son wholeheartedly while trying to stay focused during meetings.

But I planned ahead, and was committed to incorporating self-care practices into my day.

If you’re on the brink of your own return to work, make an effort to address both your external environment and internal spirit, and you’ll discover myriad ways to encourage a more peaceful transition.

Utilize aromatherapy

Soothing aromatherapy scents like jasmine, lavender, and vanilla encourage peace and relaxation, even during a busy workday. Add a few drops to your hand, rub your palms together, and take a few deep breaths anytime you need a quiet moment.

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Be kind to yourself

Be gentle with yourself as you return to the rhythms of your former life. Utilize grocery delivery services to keep after-work errands to a minimum, or speak with your boss about easing back in with smaller assignments. Always remember that you’re doing the best you can for yourself, your baby, and your workplace, and by keeping your mental health a priority, you’ll be better equipped to maneuver the inevitable challenges that may arise over the next few months.

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Recharge while you pump

Pumping in an office is never ideal, but a fresh mindset can make the experience something you look forward to. Bring your laptop to catch up on personal email, read a magazine, or even spend time looking at photos or videos of your baby.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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