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Returning to work

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Going back to work after having a baby can be tough, but our top 10 tips may make it easier.

1. Plan your childcare.

Workplace flexibility, finances and availability of a nursery place may drive your decision, but so too will the emotional choice of where you'd like your baby to be.

2. Update your CV.

Reading it over will remind you just how much you have achieved.

3. Talk to friends.

You'll probably find that once they got over the initial pangs, they enjoyed rediscovering time on their own.

4. Visit your workplace.

Things may not be that different, and you can catch up with colleagues.

5. Know your rights.

You may be able to work from home, return part time, in a job-share, work flexitime (a fixed number of hours but with some flexibility about when you start and finish each day) or compressed hours - the same total hours over fewer days, such as four long days instead of five "normal" days. Your employer is legally obliged to take your request for flexible working seriously, so talk through possible solutions with them.

6. Do a dummy run.

This will give you an idea of how much time you need to allow if dropping your baby off on the way to work.

7. Cook ahead.

If your baby is on solids, prepare and freeze meals, and get into the habit of preparing his changing bag the night before.

8. Take it slowly.

In the weeks leading up to your return to work, spend regular time with your baby's new carer to help him become attached to someone other than you, and familiarise him with a new environment.

9. Be prepared for tears.

Most children cry for a few minutes, and sometimes when you pick them up too - in a combination of protest and relief. Ask your child's carer what happens during the day; if, after a few weeks, your child seems really unhappy, discuss how you may be able to improve things.

10. Don't expect to be back on full throttle.

Most women feel unconfident after returning to work after maternity leave. You may still have broken nights and feel your brain (and body) have turned to mush. Try to build catch-up time into your day, and be honest: ask colleagues openly for their understanding and patience.

Breastfeeding and work

It is possible to continue breastfeeding when you return to work. Even if it's just mornings and evenings, this can be a lovely way to bond after being separated during the day. Contact La Leche League or the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers for information and tips. If you are happy to express milk, get your baby used to taking it from a bottle or cup - this may take a few weeks or more, so start early - and find somewhere private to express milk at work.

Equip yourself for the return to work