Nursing with a Baby at Home: How to Balance Work and the Demands of New Parenthood

Nursing with a Baby at Home: How to Balance Work and the Demands of New Parenthood

Author: Ayla Girouard, RN

If you’re expecting or have recently had a baby, you’ve probably thought about going back to work. Whether you have a plan or trying to figure out how and when you’ll return, it's normal to have some anxiety about how it will work out. As the parent of a new baby, you’re likely to be heading back to work sleep-deprived, stressed, and maybe dealing with some guilt about leaving home. Luckily, there are some things you can do to ease the transition and get back to thriving both at work and at home.

Tips for Working as a Nurse with a Baby at Home

 1.  Start a pre-work routine.

Time at home with a new baby can be all-consuming. It’s hard to transition from one role to another and turn off the mental load of parenting at work. While some parents can return to their careers and juggle parenting thoughts and work duties, as a nurse it's essential to be completely present at work. Your workday pace can often be lightning-fast, and lives are on the line. 

Developing a routine between leaving home and starting your shift can help to compartmentalize your roles and reduce stress, allowing for total focus at work. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a certain song in the parking lot before getting out of your car, hitting your favorite coffee spot on the way to work, or taking a lap around the block before walking in the door can help you center your thoughts and prepare to take on your shift. 

2.  Planning to pump at work? Invest in a fast and powerful cordless pump.

When you barely have time to use the bathroom during a shift, pumping can seem like an enormous task. You may not know when you will get a break or where you’ll be able to go. Having a pump that you can use anywhere makes it easier to pop into an empty room for a quick pumping session. It is also a good idea to have a manual pump on hand to quickly relieve pressure if you’re overdue and can’t take a break just yet.


3.  Set boundaries for caretaker communication.

It may be tempting to call or email designated caretakers just to check in, and in turn they may want to send frequent pictures or updates to help ease the transition. This constant contact and reminder of what you’re missing tends to backfire; quickly turning to to guilt or fear of missing out. Caretakers may also get used to you being reachable and consult you for things that can be easily taken care of without needing your input. 

A great solution is to designate one or two times during your work day that you’d like to receive communication from caretakers. Setting boundaries leads to better productivity at work and less home-related stress. Knowing what time you can expect a photo keeps you from obsessively checking your phone. Limiting incoming messages helps to avoid frequent mental distractions at work.

4.  Have a bulletproof plan for unexpected stays at work.

Any nurse knows that sometimes you can’t make it home at the time you expected. A patient emergency, unforeseen weather, or a staff call-out can be stressful. But, laying out a plan ahead of time means less time stressing about what to do when you can’t get home to your baby. Put it in writing and give a copy to anyone involved in your daily life and childcare. Even if you can’t be reached, they’ll know exactly what to do and you’ll know that your baby is taken care of. 

5.  Make a weekly self-care appointment and keep it一no exceptions.

Setting aside a single time each week for self-care may seem stingy, but as a new parent and busy nurse, it can be nearly impossible to carve out time for yourself. As hard as it may be, the combination of being a new parent and a nurse absolutely demands some alone time to rest and recharge. Self-care can reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and improve overall health. Both roles require giving all of yourself to others, and burnout is a very real possibility. Let everyone around you know when your scheduled alone time is and keep the appointment – no matter what. How you use this time may change from week to week, and there are plenty of simple options that can offer a huge dose of relaxation. A long nap, reading a book outside, or even going to see a movie alone can offer a few hours of uninterrupted calm.

The bottom line is a nursing career with babies at home is hard. The most important thing is to find what works for you. Developing routines, setting boundaries, and guaranteeing time to recharge can keep you showing up and giving your all at home and at work.

About the Author:

Ayla Girouard is a nurse, a mother of three, and a writer with a passion for helping people become healthy, happy, and successful.





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