Dear Dr Ombeva,
I always enjoy your articles. I am returning to work soon after I gave birth. I am, however, worried about leaving my baby alone at home with the nanny. How can I make sure the baby is safe while I return to work?
Thanks for your question. This is one of the most common questions I deal with.
Maternity leave provides a great opportunity for a mum to bond with her new baby. The fear and anxiety following return to work is understandable. Many moms worry about being separated from their child when they have to go back to work.
It is important to note that the baby also suffers from this separation from the mum as he/she also struggles to adjust to being cared for by a new person other than the mother. Sometimes the child cries a lot or may refuse to feed.
For the mum returning to work, it is better to call home often to check on the baby, and give instructions to the nanny/caregiver on what should be done. These instructions may include reminders on feeding the baby and administering any medication prescribed for a sick baby or bathing the baby.
Sometimes, you might just make that phone call to be sure the baby is fine. The caregiver will realise that the baby matters a lot to you and this may also encourage her to remain careful and vigilant regarding her attention to the baby’s welfare.
Also, a reassuring phone call can put you at peace as a mum and allow you to concentrate at work and meet your targets and deadlines.
In the first week, if your work schedule permits it, you can return home earlier, or go for work a bit late after doing a few things like bathing the baby, washing the milk bottles and expressing breast milk. You could also help the nanny with some tasks to make sure she has as little house work as possible, so that she concentrates on the baby.
While some mothers do not allow the nanny to bathe the baby, it can still be done so long as the nanny has been adequately trained.
An effective planning approach is to employ and, where possible, stay with a nanny long enough to train her before you give birth so that the nanny can welcomes the baby with you and understands the baby’s needs and temperament.
You will be able to observe and know whether your baby is comfortable with the nanny by observing body language of your child.
Do not stress the nanny because it may affect the way she treats your baby. Be as understanding and as kind as possible to the nanny. It is important that you patiently train your nanny and then observe as she attends to the baby.