Going Back to Work After Baby Is Hard. How Do I Make It Easier?


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(With Jana Nattermann, mama)   Jana loved her job & knows she is super lucky to be passionate about working with inner city kids. She never wanted kids of her own, since she really viewed the students she works with as “her kids.” Well one hot man and a marriage ceremony later, her desires to become a biological mom changed.

During her pregnancy, Jana was sure she’d go back to work after baby. She didn’t realize that once she met her daughter, her heart would be forever stolen. Going back to work was going to tear her heart out.

This decision & reality is H-A-R-D to deal with. And rarely does anyone talk about it. That’s crazy. We’re in this together. Let’s keep it real, acknowledge that it sucks, then openly share & learn from each other the best ways to make it work & easier to deal with.  Jana leads the way, let’s follow her lead & help each other out…   

Learn how Jana coped & how you can too.   

You’ll Also Learn:

  1. How you feel about going back to work after baby will surprise you.
  2. Getting into a routine early-on with your baby makes the transition back to work easier.
  3. Finding GREAT childcare takes time- Jana gives tips on how find the best childcare.
  4. Jana shares how she organizes for the week, why it works & why setting aside dedicated mom/baby time for activities helps everyone involved.

 Who is Jana Nattermann?

Jana (is an East Coast & West Coast girl) having grown up in both San Francisco & Virginia Beach. She is married to Josh and together they are parents to 3 kids. While finding herself much too smart for reality television, Jana’s secret obsession is watching anything dealing with the Kardashian family.

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Jana Nattermann- Tear My Heart Out: going back to work after baby 

Sarah Blight:                           Hi, I’m Sarah Blight with Your Baby Booty Interviews, where you learn what moms, dads and experts really wish they would have known when they were just having kids, and today, we are going to be talking about something that no one else seems to talk about, which I don’t really understand, and it’s the whole dilemma and just rip my guts out moment of going back to work after you become a mom. So, today, we are joined by Jana, who is the mother of three. One of whom she birthed, the other two of whom she has—is co- parenting, as a stepmom. She is married, she lives in Cincinnati and she works outside the home, full time, as well as being a full time mommy and wife. So, thanks Jana for coming tonight and sharing with us your experience.

Jana Nattermann:                   Thank you Sarah for having me.

Sarah Blight:                           Yeah! So I’m going to find out specific ways that you can prepare yourself as a working outside the home mom, to prepare yourself for the experience of going back to work; specific ways that you can really help nurture your relationship with your child since you’re gone most of the day, and finally, just how you can stay organized throughout the week. Things that you can do to kind of make your life easier on the weekends, so that you’re not busy just, you know, doing all of your errands and your to-dos.

Um, you know when you have special family time. So, first of all Jana, tell us about your job that you have outside the home—and I do need to say, when I say when you go to work or going back to work, I’m just assuming—let’s just lay it all out there, we know that staying at home full time is a super hard job and it’s a real job, so that’s—we’re not in dispute, but when I say going back to work, I’m just going to—we’re just going to all understand that I’m talking about working outside the home. Are we good? [Laughter] Okay, I don’t want to get any flak for that, we all understand it, okay. So, tell us about your full time job.

Jana Nattermann:                   I work with high- school aged students doing civic engagement programming for a non- profit organization, and in addition to that, I oversee several of our afterschool sites that are funded with some federal grant money. So my whole career, my background in social work, and I always wanted to work with, um, with urban high school- aged students, so my whole career has very much been focused on that and those kids have just—they have been a huge part of my life, and I’ve always viewed those kids as my kids. So I love my job, I’m very passionate about what I do. Um, there are a lot of children and teenagers out there that don’t have much love, so for me to work in an environment where I am able to show them that I care for them and that I know that they can accomplish their dreams is such a huge, huge thing for me.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay. So in your pre- interview, you said that you never had intended on having kids when you—before you got married. So, after you suddenly had this urge to have a baby, what were you thinking about, you know, working? Did you still—what were your, I guess, your insight or your thoughts about working after your baby?

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, I…

Sarah Blight:                           Before you had her, so before she was…

Jana Nattermann:                   Before I had her, yeah, um, I always knew that I would have to go back to work, ‘cause that’s just kind of the situation that we’re in currently, and so it was like, okay! You know? I’m going back to work and it’ll all be fine and I also remember thinking, I’m going to be thankful to go back to work, because I need to stay consistently busy or—and be challenged in different ways, or I just get bored and then lack all motivation. So I was thinking like, it will be great, you know, all of, you know—it’ll just all work out and it’ll be wonderful, you know, to have, you know, a baby and then also be able to have some time off to be with her and then going back to work. So, for me it was never an option of not going back to work, so in my mind I was just like, “Yeah!” and I’ll be ready to  go back to work.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay.

Jana Nattermann:                   That’s—I think that my biggest thing was like I’m going to be so ready to get out of the house and go back to work.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay. So, how much maternity leaves did you take?

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, I took 8 weeks, and I really, really wanted to take twelve weeks and the only way, really, I could have done that was for the last four weeks of it to be unpaid, and there just was no way financially that that was going to work for our household, so the 8 week was more out of necessity rather than me really wanting to go back to work at 8 weeks [Laughter]


Sarah Blight:                           Okay, so we’re going to get to that next, so, you’ve had your baby—and we have another interview that you guys can look up to, um, the uterus [0:05:23][Phonetic] interview [Laughter] Jana has two uteri, two cervi, she had one baby, um, and we talked more about that, but after your baby came, um, and how did – did your thoughts and feelings about going back to work change?

Jana Nattermann:                   Oh year. Um, I think instantly, I—during my pregnancy at some point I remember thinking like, it’s going to be hard going back to work. I—just the thought of somebody else being with your child, um, and not, you know, being able to care for them the exact same way that I would or, you know, love them the same way that I do, it’s just a very hard, um—it’s hard to kind of get your mind around. But then the instant you hold your baby, all you can think about is you’ve never known or experienced that kind of love before, cause it’s so different from any other relationship that you have. And then, you know, the world is evil, and all you think about is that everyone out there is like, out to get your baby or hurt your baby in some way, and um, the thought of somebody else having her, um, more than me was just an overwhelming thought, it’s still very hard to think about. I just—there are certain things where I’m just like, you know what, I can’t dwell on that. What I do dwell on is how thankful I am for the in home child care that we have been able to find, so…

Sarah Blight:                           We’re going to talk more about that in just a minute. Um, so  is that the first thing that you– after you had your daughter, was that—what was the first thing you did to kind of start thinking about things you needed to do to prepare for going back to work?

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, it was probably like a month, probably she was a month old and I just remember thinking like, okay, I have four weeks left, and there was – [0:07:20][Phonetic] to me like, on days where you’re super tired and exhausted you’re like, how am I going back to work in a few days? And there’s other days where you’re like, she didn’t nap at all, I’m excited to go back to work, it’s just like this, this internal struggle of wanting nothing more than just to be  with her all the time, but then this other part of you is like, Oh my goodness, you know, I’ll be outside of the house and talking to people and having these conversations and doing these, you know, doing things, so I think I started with trying to get more on a routine, and—Herbie, my first, the first baby that I’ve given birth to, it was really hard, I think, for me to get back by the routine, it was a lot more adjustment than I thought, so I kind of try to prepare myself with, okay, I’m going to have to be at the office at this time.

What do I need to—you know, like, I need to start getting her on a more regulated nap schedule, so it’s not a burden to the sitter, and I need to start getting me on a schedule where once she goes to bed at night, you know, I’m in bed by 9 or 10 so I can be fully rested and of course when I went back to work, she was still waking up in the middle of the night, so the other part of it was, um, how much—you know, just really trying to figure out how I could get my rest. So just trying to prepare myself for the schedule and I think I’d already planned out,  um, I nursed, so it was just a matter of pumping, figuring out the pumping situation and then freezing, so I started freezing, knowing I was going back to work, I started freezing ahead of time.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay.

Jana Nattermann:                   I had a supply kind of stocked up, and then, um, so that was kind of my game plan.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay, so…

Jana Nattermann:                   [0:09:15][Inaudible] get on a schedule [Laughter]

Sarah Blight:                           So first thing, get on a schedule. So you’re frozen right now—speaking for freezing breast milk, you are frozen. Um, so we’re just going to carry on and pretend like you’re not and if—hopefully you’ll come back to us. If not, we’ll just keep on—we have good audio. Um, okay so, you say getting on a routine was important and that you did nurse. So it’s possible to work outside the home and go back to work and still nurse your baby. So how did—what did that look like—how did you ever get ahead, how did you ever manage to save enough milk for the future?

Jana Nattermann:                   Uh, it’s interesting, and I  will say this, anything is possible, and that you’re able to do anything, but is it—is it worth certain things that you’re going to have to give up, and I think, um, looking back now, I think I, um, probably ran myself into the ground a lot more than I needed to. Um, I had some milk to fight build- up before I went back to work. Um, but the beauty of it was, um, pumping at work. So they recommend you pump every three hours, so I was very diligent to pump every three hours while I was at work. And I was fortunate—fortunate enough to be—to have my own office where it was very private, so I could just kind of like close the door, shut everything and pump in my office.

Most businesses now do have some sort of, um, space—or they’ll make accommodations for nursing women, so make sure you check with your employer before you go back to work to see what can be worked out. So I had a great situation, I pumped every three hours. My job consists of a lot of meetings, and so there’s a wonderful card after you can get for your breast pump, so a lot of times I’d just be sitting in the parking lot with my hooter hider on, pumping my milk…


Sarah Blight:                           And what would you do if it—Jana, when you were done pumping, where would you put it?

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, the breast pump I borrowed actually from somebody, but they had a—it had a little like mini cooler with it, so I would just—it had a divider, one of those frozen ice things. I’m sorry, I’m not thinking of the name, but anyway, it was a little mini cooler, so I would just pump my milk and put it in—just put it in the little cooler bag. There was also a refrigerator at work, so if I pumped more than the cooler would hold for, like, 4 four- ounce bottles, and then I had like other bags that I would bring and stick more of the ice things and, um, and then the refrigerator at work.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay.

Jana Nattermann:                   So, I just kind of—yeah, it stayed cool enough—cold enough for what I needed for. And also, breast milk is, um—can be kept at room temperature for up to 10 hours, I believe. And then, um, so there was times where I wasn’t as concerned, like if I pumped 6 bottles but I was on my way home, I’m like, they’re fine for me to, you know, to have in the car without necessarily being immediately refrigerated, so.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay, so you—what things, when you—after you had your daughter and you were kind of in this transition of “I have eight weeks”, you knew you had 8 weeks, and it was time to go back to work, what things were you most concerned about and what were you thinking about as you were preparing to go back to work?

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, I was most concerned with leaving her. I think part of the fear is, what happens when something, like, something happens, and I can’t get to her? Um, you know, what happens if there’s a really bad storm, or there’s another terrorist attack or—just, your mind just starts going a million miles and hours, and it’s just like, what if I can’t get to her fast enough. The other thing was, um, will she know that I hated going back to work? Like will she feel like, sorry, that she was abandoned in some way, cause I had to go back to work. So I think that those are things that I struggled with, that I, um, you know there’s this other part of that whole equation of it’s also, you know, not good for her to not have a home or food or other necessities, so you know, you just—you suck it up and you do it,  but I—so, and I think I came to terms as well with like, you know, my  daughter is going to know I love her and she’ll know that cause every moment that we do have together, I’ll make the most of it, so.

Sarah Blight:                           Yeah.

Jana Nattermann:                   We did. [Laughter]

Sarah Blight:                           So, obviously this is really emotional, and I think that for some reason, people don’t seem to talk about this. I don’t think I’ve read one thing really that—where women really spill the beans on how they feel going back to work. Um, maybe they just feel like they have to be brave and put on a brave face, but I really appreciate your honesty in sharing with us, cause I think it’s so helpful to know that the feelings that you’re feeling of maybe anxiety or fear or just feeling sad or feel like you’re letting your baby down are, you know, feelings that a lot of women feel when they have to go back to work, and um—maybe not necessarily everybody, but I think some people really feel that, and to know that, you know what, you can show your baby, and the times that you do have are really super special and you can really let them know and communicate, um, love to them when you are together, I think, is a really, really important and really helpful tip for moms. Um, how did you—I think that probably the next most important question is, how did you find someone to watch your daughter that you trusted? How did you go about finding the right person?


Jana Nattermann:                   Um, I’d asked around, just from women that I knew. We’re very involved in our church, so I just kind of started there, like who do other people recommend, do they know anyone, and through that, somebody recommended a woman who was—stay at home mom with two children, seven and four, so her youngest was in preschool part-time, so her youngest son actually was around, um, Brea quite a bit when Brea was really little. Um, but—so I went out to the house and just kind of talked to her and Brea was, again, you know, a little over two months, so anyone could hold her at that point.

But, you know, her home was clean and she was wonderful and I could tell that she loved babies, but it wasn’t—it didn’t take very long before I knew she loved my daughter, and, um, still to this day, we’re on our second sitter. Um, our first sitter I w as so bummed, but she started her own business and so, she had Brea from the time Brea was about two months to about 8 months? Almost 9 months, and then that sitter right now that Brea has is—it’s been wonderful. I found her through my boss actually. My boss and I have very similar—I think it’s important to connect with somebody that has probably your same belief system or the same kind of standards that you’re trying to instill in your children. I think that makes it a lot easier for you to be at work, knowing that somebody is not doing the opposite of what you would be doing at home.

So, um, my boss and I have very similar kind of, I think, things that we would look for, and she has two boys and she is a working mom, so she absolutely understood my dilemma. So, I asked her and she gave me a couple of names, and so the first person I called, um—again, my husband and I went out and saw her house and that her—and she’s a stay at home mom with three children, and her children are older, her youngest is about 11 years old now, which is great cause Brea’s older brother is 12, so just kind of—it all worked out. But it’s, um, I didn’t realize, um, I was, I would—probably going back, I would have really tried to find somebody closer to my office. Um, but at the same time, there’s no amount of distance I wouldn’t drive to have my daughter in the arms of somebody that I trust. So her first sitter, who I trusted and actually she’s still my, like, backup sitter whenever Brea’s current sitter is, you know, out of town or gone, I always go back to Liz, and I’m like, “Can you watch Brea?” [Laughter]

Sarah Blight:                           Yeah.

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, and she does. Liz loves my daughter dearly, um, but Liz is a half- hour away from us, so I would make an hour long drive in the mornings before work to get Brea there, and then my  husband would pick her up [0:18:33][Phonetic]—we had a routine going that worked for us, but mentally, the minute that Brea started being just 5 minutes from my office, it just—it was like this huge worry kind of lifted, and I just remember thinking, “If something happens, I can walk to get her”. If I can’t drive my car, I would be able to get her, and it just – I don’t know, cause your mind sometimes is not rational when you’re a mom, but I just remember, you know, just—I felt this weight had been lifted, so finding somebody that close to my office is a huge help, and again, like complete trust. My daughter loves their family, and um…

Sarah Blight:                           So you can tell—you can tell by the way—as your daughter has grown, you can tell by the way she responds, how she feels about the people that are in charge of her, which kind of gives you a little bit of a feeling as to, you know, if they’re trustworthy and if it’s a good thing that that’s going on.

Jana Nattermann:                   Yeah, and that—I mean, and it shows. Brea’s excited when we walk up to the door, she’s, you know, just…

Sarah Blight:                           She has good associations with the place.

Jana Nattermann:                   She does! She can’t wait to go there, and she still remembers her first baby sitter too, which is wonderful, so…

Sarah Blight:                           Okay. So what organizational tips would you give to moms when you go back to work? What things have you done as Brea has gotten older that have really helped you, cause you’re a very organized person and you have it all together? What do you do that works for you?


Jana Nattermann:                   Um, I was, um—as you transition from either pumping and freezing your milk, or formula to more solid foods, um, and again, I’m—you know, It depends on your preference, but I decided to make all my own baby foods, so for me, the prep work was, um, making food and freezing it.

So I usually made food, either on the weekends and froze it or, you know, every once in a while and I try to keep that stuff for the weekends during her nap time—again, like, not letting to take a lot of awake time, um, away from me spending with her to do other stuff, so—but I froze food and I, every night I would take her food out to get ready for the next day. I—Oh, one of the things that was really helpful was I was packing a diaper bag, like every day I would be dropping off the diaper bag, clean the diaper bag up, and what I realized is it’s just so much easier to pack a diaper bag for a week.

Sarah Blight:                           Mm.

Jana Nattermann:                   So, I just—everything that she needs is in there. If they run out of something, obviously, I’ll replenish it, but it’s just so much easier to just drop her off and have everything there. The only thing that I bring now for her on a daily basis is her food.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay.

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, but I just…

Sarah Blight:                           And you also do cloth diapering, right? 

Jana Nattermann:                   I do!

Sarah Blight:                           How does that work?

Jana Nattermann:                   I have a diaper service for that.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay.

Jana Nattermann:                   And um, I knew I wanted to do cloth diapers, and I knew that I was going back to work. So one of the things I did while I was pregnant was to see if there was diaper services in our area, because it was important for me to be able to do cloth diapers, but I knew that I would probably try—I have a [0:21:51][Phonetic]. I didn’t think I could keep up with doing the laundry on top of everything else with the cloth diapers. So we have a diaper service. So um, there’s a wet bag, and so every day the wet bag goes back to the sitters, and then you take the—I bring the wet bag home and [0:22:12][Phonetic] out the dirty diapers, wash the wet bag and send it back. So it’s very—and then send them with new cloth diapers. And that’s the other thing, having, um—having the sitters I had, they were both very agreeable to using cloth diapers, so…

Sarah Blight:                           Which is an important question now…

Jana Nattermann:                   I don’t think the daycare center would probably [Laughter] do cloth diapers…

Sarah Blight:                           Yeah.

Jana Nattermann:                   It worked out well.

Sarah Blight:                           Definitely a good question to ask your prospective people. Okay, one last question, cause we’re running out of time, tell us about, um, bonding with Brea. You did mention—what are some specific ways that you bond with her when you do spend time with her? What are some things that you do to make sure you really get that time in?

Jana Nattermann:                   Um, when she was younger, like when she was an infant, I—it would be a matter of just having tummy time with her when she was fed and then just—when we would bathe her and just spending time, like playing with her on the bed and just holding he and reading books to her before we would throw down for the night. Now that she’s older, um, it’s just doing little things, like—it’s kind of a bummer because there’s all these like classes and things you want to do with your children, and a lot of them are offered during the day, which is great, you know, for moms who are able to stay at home full time. So for me, I just kind of thought what are the things that are important, and that let, kind of, see when we can work that into our schedules, so, um, we do weeklies on [0:23:43][Musten’s?] on Tuesday nights, and then we do a Tiny Tunes class at a local family enrichment center here, where we do that Saturdays. So it’s kind of, on the weekends, keeping them as free as possible and my daughter loves music, and that’s why we decided on the Tiny Tunes thing. But that’s kind of like our special time.

Sarah Blight:                           Yeah.

Jana Nattermann:                   We’re going to this music class, um, where we’re going to swim lessons. Yeah, and it’s stuff that my husband and I can both do with her, so we can either takes turn or go together, and I think that that’s just kind of carving out specific times for things. And then I take my daughter everywhere. Um, one of the things that I am fortunate is that I have a very flexible job that I take a couple of trips with my high school students, and my daughter comes everywhere with me. So, I’ve had a flexible job and I’m fortunate enough where I’ve been able to just travel with her a lot. So that’s the—you know, that was the other thing. When she was little and it would—before she was mobile, I would just put her in a baby [0:24;46][Phonetic] and we’d drove or shoe shopping, like whatever errand, she’d come with me.

Sarah Blight:                           Yeah.

Jana Nattermann:                   Now that she’s older, not so much with the errands, but, you know…

Sarah Blight:                           Cause she’s how old now?

Jana Nattermann:                   She’s 16 months now.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay, yeah, so she’s…

Jana Nattermann:                   So she just—she no longer comes to trader [0:24:59][Phonetic] with me, she stays home with daddy for that and that’s their special time. But, you know, other things I just—I take her with me everywhere.


Sarah Blight:                           Yeah.

Jana Nattermann:                   We don’t leave her with the baby sitter on the weekends. She’s with us the whole time.

Sarah Blight:                           Well those are awesome—I want to recap, cause you had a treasure trove of amazing tips for moms as they go back to work. So let’s recap real quick. As you’re preparing to go back to work, start getting into a routine that would be similar wake up times to when you would need to leave the house, right, get your baby to the baby sitter or the daycare?

Jana Nattermann:                   Yup.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay. Next is it is possible to breastfeed and work. So talk to your, um, talk to your boss about arrangements that can be made so you can pump during the day, right? And, um, bring a cooler with you, so that you can freeze the breast milk, or keep it cool I guess. Um, and when you’re looking for daycare providers or babysitters, finding someone who has a very similar approach of parenting is really important, so that there’s continuity with your baby’s care, basically, right?

Jana Nattermann:                   Yes.

Sarah Blight:                           Okay, and then, the last one was you would make baby food the week ahead, or I guess if you want to buy baby food, but just kind of stocking up the week ahead and sending a diaper bag for the entire week saves you, I’m sure, a lot of time and a lot less mental exercises that you have to do.

Jana Nattermann:                   I guess [Laughter]

Sarah Blight:                           Awesome. Well, Jana, thank you so much for sharing this topic. I know it’s a – it’s a hard thing for moms and you’re doing a great job and I know your daughter is blessed to have you as our–  any kids who have moms who just really are genuinely interested in how they can connect with their babies when they’re not able to be around them all day long. So thank you for your advice and your insight and your experience. To all you mamas out there who are going back to work, if you have any additional questions or comments that you want to have or leave for us, please e-mail me. It’s Sarah with an H at your baby booty dot com. Thanks for joining us.

Jana Nattermann:                   Okay.

[Phone tone]

Jana Nattermann:                   [0:27:20][Phonetic]

Sarah Blight:                           Thank you girly!

[0:27:22]                                  End of Audio


  • Liz Overman

    Something occurred to me while watching this- so much of what we do as new moms involves drastic changes, in very short periods of time, all of which we’ve never experienced before. And we keep so much of it inside. Because we’re supposed to be able to deal with everything in stride. I know that’s sorta captain obvious, but that’s what I kept thinking about. It takes time to adjust to all the newness within those 9 months. Then we get this beautiful little babe at the end, have some time to bond realizing how special they are & how much richer life instantly became at birth…then it feels like it happens in reverse. All on one day. The morning you go back to work. It’s so tough. And even if you “want” to go (which I did), your heart still lives & beats faster thinking about what your little one is doing, thinking & even if their diaper needs changing. You just long to hear, feel, see, smell & touch that little person you are away from. I really appreciate Jana opening up and being real in here. I’m dealing with this right now & it’s really hard. I’ve been having the exact same thoughts “will my little one feel abandoned..but I need to go back to help provide for her”…I just am right there!! Ahhh. Needed to hear this & just listen. It helped me hear the same thoughts I’m having & being on the outside of it for once. It helped me process. Thanks Jana for being real.

    • yourbabybooty

      Oh Liz, what you said is sooo true. The life of a mama is constant changing and adapting! It’s hard to anticipate how we’ll feel about going back to work until we’re there. I know with our first, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to return to work and have baby in daycare…but it about tore my heart out when the time came. We are so glad you’re encouraged!