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How Can I Leave My Baby?

If you've been on maternity leave, going back to work may be one of the toughest parts of new motherhood. Just getting out the door in the morning poses a huge logistical challenge, plus you may be coping with feelings of loss and guilt.

Here are some ways to make the transition easier -- from moms who've been there.

"A week before I went back to work, I started getting up at the new time and practiced getting ready. This helped me determine how long it would take to get me and the baby set to go. It made me realize that I had to get up earlier than I thought to have time to nurse her, changer her diaper, and get her dressed." --Susan Grayson, Bradenton, FL

"About a week before I went back to work, I started pumping breast milk at the times I knew I'd have breaks and lunch. Near the end of my six-week maternity leave, I went to work for a few hours to check e-mail and clear the mail off my desk so it wouldn't be so overwhelming to come back. This also helped my daughter get used to spending time with someone else." --Rebecca Judy, Hustonville, KY

"I went back to work when my son was 3 months old. I found it helpful to start bringing him to daycare bout two weeks before I was due back on the job. After I dropped him off at the sitter's, I would run errands or go get a coffee -- anything to keep my mind off his being away from me. He was perfectly happy!" --Angela Watts, Fresno, CA

"Before I had my child, I worked in a daycare center. My advice: Get to know the staff. Take a day or two before you go back to work to watch your child interact with the caregivers. Don't be afraid to share things about your child, such as favorite games and nap times." --Evonne Umbel, City withheld

"Nursing moms, start stacking up on breast milk to freeze a week or two before you go back to work. You'll get good practice with the pump, and you'll have a backup supply." --Jennifer Boyle, Cincinnati, OH

"My husband took two weeks off after I went back to work. I highly recommend this, because while I was getting used to the new routine, at least I didn't have to worry about the baby being in a new environment. Then, after two weeks at work, I was better able to transition into dropping her off at daycare. I think it is also very important to choose a daycare center close enough to your office so you can visit during lunch." --Jessica Daly, Columbia, SC

"My first official day back was a Monday. But I actually worked on Thursday and Friday the week before, then took off the following Monday and Tuesday in exchange. So I started with two short weeks, which gave me and the baby a chance to get used to our new routine." --Anndria Ciabattoni, Reading, PA

"When you first return to work, see if you can work half days or just a few full days for the first two weeks. Also check on your baby during lunch, if possible." --Patricia Rogers, Ravenna, MI

"When I got back to work, I found it helpful not to clutter my desk with lots of photos of my son. At first, my desk was like one big photo album. People would come by all day and comment on what a handsome little man I had. Of course, my coworkers meant well, but this made me miss him even more. Now my desk is adorned with my favorite picture of him, which is not distracting." --Crystal Padgett, Northampton, PA

"Check on your baby often. I called my daycare provider three times the first day -- and my daughter was only there for three hours! Your child's caregiver should be compassionate and understanding about how difficult it is for you to leave your baby." --Shelley Hull, Red Wing, MN

"Start getting ready the night before. Have lunch, the diaper bag, and bottles ready. Know the weather so you can plan outfits for you and your baby. I even set out breakfast bowls and have the coffeemaker ready to go in the morning so I can just eat, pour a cup of coffee, and go." --Helen Cottrell, Park Ridge, NJ

"On Sunday night, I pick out the clothes for the whole week for myself and my girls. Each night, I pack up the breast pump and put it in the car. I put the expressed milk in a cooler bag in the fridge. Then all I have to do is grab the ice pack and throw it in the diaper bag in the morning." --Amanda Moda, Reading, MA

"Go on walks during breaks and take healthy snacks to work. When I went back to work, I got tired easily because I hadn't been exercising." --Catherine Kelly, Cortland Manor, NY

"Schedule times during the day (before or after work) to hang out with the baby so you don't feel like you're missing out completely. It sounds basic, but I was surprised how busy I was when I started working again." --Kristina Albright, Elk Grove, CA

"Let go of the idea of keeping the house clean. If it gets done, it gets done. If not, don't stress. Your children won't remember if the house was clean or not, but they will recall the time you spent together." --Monica Shackleford, Thousand Oaks, CA

"Realize that it's good for children to be with someone else now and then. I went back to work part time with my first, then stayed home full time after my second child was born. Looking back, I can see that being with a sitter helped my oldest learn to be more independent. My second son has a harder time being away from me than his brother does." --Jeanie Brown, Luray, VA

"Don't stress about missing 'firsts.' Your baby may roll over, take his first step, or say his first word when you're not there, but the first time you see it is what's important and what you'll remember." --Tracy Leonardo, Reston, VA

much for your baby as possible. If you have to wean before you want do, don't stress or feel guilty." --Kristina Albright, Elk Grove, CA

"Don't feel guilty if you leave as soon as the workday is officially over. You'll be amazed at how much being a mom teaches you to get things done in less time!" --Jes Isaacs, New York, NY