How to rock maternity leave like a boss

Questions to ask yourself about how to manage your maternity leave.

How to rock maternity leave like a boss

If you’re a brand-new, career-driven mama, what should you do while you are out on maternity leave?

1. Love, love, love that baby, and

2. Survive.

That is all.

But that doesn’t make for much of an article, does it?

And there are things you’ll want to be mindful of once the fog of the first few weeks has lifted. You can, in fact, use your maternity leave-and-return experience as an opportunity to advance your career and grow new skills and leadership muscles.

Returning to work after maternity leave?

Ask yourself these questions to feel calmer while bonding with your baby + more confident about your career plans.

Am I sticking to my office communication plan?

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What type of expectations did you set around communicating with coworkers?

For example, during my first maternity leave, I didn’t really check in with anyone until the last few weeks of leave, to confirm my phased-in return schedule. The second time I was on leave, I touched base weekly (after the first month) with one of my direct reports, who was new and benefited from some regular guidance.

Am I living up to the expectations I set?

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If not, ask yourself how you can best communicate to change those expectations. If you didn’t set any specific expectations around communication, do you need to give someone a heads up as to when you’ll be in touch?

Is it possible that not being in touch on substantive projects during your leave is in itself a strong leadership stance? If so, keep your distance—confidently.

Is my maternity leave the right length?

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It’s impossible to know how you’ll feel about the length of the leave you planned until you’re in it.

Is the leave you planned to take feeling way too short? If so, can you negotiate to extend it? If it’s feeling too long, can you talk about going back a bit earlier?

What’s my plan for transitioning back?

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Toward the end of your leave, can you put meetings on the books with your key office stakeholders for the first few weeks when you’re back, to have them fill you in on the key things you should know from your time away?

Is my childcare plan on track?

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If you’re on day care center waitlists, what can you do to improve your chances of getting a spot?

This may involve sending handwritten notes announcing your baby’s arrival and declaring your love for their center, or having your partner call to check in and let them know they’re still your first choice.

If you’re planning to have a nanny or au pair, do you have a plan to interview candidates?

Do you have backup plans if your original childcare options fall through?

Can I get food + nourishment ready now for when I go back?

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Can you cook and freeze some meals to make dinner prep a bit easier upon your return?

If you’re breastfeeding, can you freeze milk for your baby so you don’t have to worry as much about how much you pump every day?

(Note that pumping to have extra is often easier in the mornings, when your supply is highest.)

Do I have a self-care plan?

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How are you taking care of yourself?

Yes, this may involve something as small as the now-not-so-simple bliss of daily showers. But taking care of mama—even in small doses—is absolutely critical to taking care of baby.

Do I have a community of other new mamas?

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Have you found a group of other women whose babies are right around the same age as yours? If you’re not already part of a group, can you start one?

Can you talk to them about their own feelings about being on leave and returning to work?

Am I giving myself credit for those new-parent skills I’m developing?

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Are you growing muscles around prioritizing? Delegating? Problem solving?

If so, take note.

These skills are absolutely transferable at work, and when you return, you can let your supervisor and colleagues know you’re even more effective in these areas.

And finally, I urge you to throw all your what-to-do-at-home-during-maternity-leave to-do lists out the window.

Those dreams of organizing photos or cleaning out the garage can remain dreams for another day.

The whole idea here is to survive and to let time stand still as you cuddle and bond with that beautiful baby of yours.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.


Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!


Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.


Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌


Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.


Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.


Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.


Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

Our Partners

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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