The Gina Monologues: Coming back from maternity leave

Meet Gina, one of the driving forces behind the creation of Ovia Pregnancy, and now the proud mom of 3-month-old Hazel. Each week in the Gina Monologues, we’ll be sharing some of Gina’s story, talking everything from pregnancy to the work/motherhood balance, and everything in-between. 

We’re kicking things off with an important subject that many women aren’t speaking about: returning to work after maternity leave. Here Gina discusses what it was like leaving Hazel, and how she navigated the transition back to her role helping millions of women conceive and have healthy pregnancies worldwide.

Coming back from maternity leave, there are bound to be tears (yours, not baby’s). The first goodbye may be difficult—that’s expected and completely reasonable. But remember this: leaving your little one to return to work does not mean your baby is going to forget you. At the end of the day, you’re her mother and no one can or will replace you!

After the initial readjustment period, about three weeks into returning to work after maternity leave, I realized that I love being a working mom. I’ve never felt so rewarded by the work we do at Ovia. And although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve come to love the hectic yet rewarding nature of my new “routine.” With that in mind, here’s the best advice I can give to Ovia moms returning to work after maternity leave:

Own being a working mom

As one of the leaders at my company, I’m always aware of the example I’m setting, especially for the women I work with. My experience is shaping the expectations they’ll have when they become working mothers themselves. Knowing that, I want to make sure they feel empowered. I want them dismantle the traditional “working mom” tropes and own this experience in their own right. Companies need to enact more supportive leave policies and create a positive atmosphere for working parents. At Ovia, I hope my encouragement of working parents, and especially mothers, permeates through the company culture and fosters a workplace where they’re supported as best as possible.

Set expectations

Be open and transparent with your boss and colleagues about your new routine. For example, I personally let them know I would need to pump twice a day and scheduled time for this on my calendar. I also was clear in the fact that I’d no longer be the last person to leave the office; it’s important to me to see my baby before she goes to bed. However, I also make myself available once I’m home if any work situations should arise after I leave.

Don’t apologize

During my first week, I needed to be caught up on a project, and apologized to my co-worker for needing a brief. She stopped me and told me there’s no need to be sorry—my involvement is critical and that means I need to be up to speed. She was absolutely right; that didn’t require an apology. I had found myself saying sorry for things I felt were inconveniences, but were actually necessary steps in my reintegration. So while it’s a kind and team-building gesture to show appreciation to those who were filling my shoes my while I was out, I didn’t need to apologize for taking maternity leave.

What’s best for you is best for baby

In a perfect world, I would have loved to give my baby only expressed breast milk. But I’m so busy at work, pumping once or twice a day is the most I can do (for my time and sanity), and so my baby has at least one formula bottle a day. I think that’s perfectly fine and doing this has kept me sane so I’ll end up breastfeeding longer rather than quitting breastfeeding altogether out of frustration.

Don’t feel guilty

Under no circumstances should you feel guilty if you don’t miss your baby every second of the workday. While it was hard to leave my little one, I was excited to return to my dream job where I get to help other women experience the same joy of motherhood. I think it’s beautiful that some women stay home to take care of their babies, but I think it’s great what I’m doing too. One day, my baby is going to look up to me and be proud of the work I do at Ovia, and your little one will feel the same about you and your accomplishments as well.