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Facing “back-to-work” with a perinatal mood disorder

posted Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 AM by AndrewandSarah Witzel   [ updated Apr 21, 2014, 11:56 AM ]

The idea of returning to paid employment can be daunting for any mom, much less one who has previously or is currently dealing with a mood disorder. Here are a few tips about making the transition. I also recommend reading a great blog post on the topic found here

Treat back to work like the early postpartum period - Freeze meals ahead of time, decline extra commitments, and take care of yourself. Even if you are looking forward to returning to work, the transition will be a least a little bit stressful. It is easier to plan ahead to make it easier on yourself.

Don't wean your baby yet - Many women assume that going back to work means that they will have to stop breastfeeding, but that is not the case. Weaning in itself can cause mood disturbances (see more information here), which you don’t need at an already challenging time. Personally, I feel that continuing nursing after going back to work (at least for a little while) makes the transition easier physically and mentally, for both mom and baby. For more information about combining working and breastfeeding see here.

Extend your leave - If you don’t feel able to return to work, you can speak to your employer about extending your leave. You may require some documentation from your doctor, but many employers offer some flexibility in this area.

Watch for signs of relapse - Even if you are completely or mostly recovered from your mood disorder, you may notice some symptoms creeping back. If this is the case, contact your healthcare provider to assess your situation and discuss treatment options.

Focus on the positives - Going back to work may be beneficial in some ways. Adult conversation, uninterrupted lunch breaks,and intellectual stimulation, for example, are bonuses of returning to paid work. Some women find that they enjoy mothering more when it is not their only focus. Additionally, a second income could relieve some of the financial stress that often builds up during a maternity leave.