It’s a new era for mothers in the workforce; there are more opportunities for women who have had or are planning to have children now than ever before, and recent social movements have finally succeeded in showing that women don’t have to pick and choose between the family and the workforce. Nonetheless, despite recent headways, it’s still incredibly challenging for many women to return to the workforce after having a baby, especially if they’re dealing with their first child.

Luckily for new mothers, they don’t have to go this path alone; you can rely on these tips to help nail the getting back to work process, and can brush up on some easy-to-avoid mistakes that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Working mothers are finally getting the respect they deserve

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are at least 25 million working mothers in the contemporary economy with children under the age of 18, meaning it’s no long strictly taboo to be both raising a child and boosting your own career. Does that mean that discrimination against women in the workplace is a thing of the past? Of course not – countless mothers around the nation still face unjust persecution when returning to their offices after giving birth, and many are struggling with how they should approach getting back up to speed after exiting the maternity ward.

Many women are still suffering from guilt when they return to their old workspaces, for instance, feeling as if they’re personally liable for any work or developments they may have missed while hospitalized during childbirth or in the subsequent maternity leave period. It’s imperative for new mothers to understand that having a child is not a blotch on your career’s record, and that there’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to your reproductive choices. While structural sexism takes concerted efforts to root out, individual agency is still incredibly important in today’s labor force, and it’s important that new mothers don’t start blaming themselves or feeling individually worthless just because they’ve been away from the office for a while.

The guilty can also cut across the opposite way; many mothers who are leaving their newborns for the first time feel guilty, as if they’re abandoning their new children, and sometimes come to regret the decision to head back into the workforce. It’s imperative, then, that you learn to master a finely-honed family-work life balance, so as not to be weighed down by fears that you’re failing both your employer and your newborn. The stress of managing both a new family member and a tricky position at your company can be overwhelming, but it’s important not to let yourself get burnt out. After all, you’ve just given birth – if that can’t keep you down, nothing can.

It’s also imperative to remember that this isn’t an individual struggle that only you are going through, and that there are many others who have been in your shoes who can offer some advice or assistance. Networking with other parents, and other new mothers in particular, is essential towards maintaining your sanity when returning to work after having had a child, and there are options to use a Medela breast pump and have a nursery set up at work to help you through the most difficult months. Medela pumps are considered hospital grade pumps with maximum suction power and very popular among new mothers. Despite the social provisions against breast feeding in public, it’s important for women to brush up on some of the ways that they can speak up for one another in today’s far-too-often hostile work environments, and you’ll be able to lend a helping hand to other new mothers, too.

The ABCs of returning to work

Much in the same way that you’ll soon be covering the basics of the alphabet with your newborn, it’s imperative to remember the ABCs of returning to work after a long absence. Above all else, you’ll need extensive planning; you’ll want to know the exact date you intend to return to work well ahead of time, for instance, and will want to iron out a new routine that takes into account your new familiar responsibilities. Your old commute, for instance, may no longer be possible thanks to the new bundle of joy waiting for you at home. Review all of the basics, as the work habits you’ve grown comfortable with over the years may need to be changed in the near future.

Don’t let the confidence gap ruin you, either – you may feel intimidated when returning to work, but you’re not less of an employee than you once were. Your expertise, your life experience, and your opinions are all as valid – if not even more so – after giving birth than they were before. Constantly remind yourself that you belong in your office, and you’ll feel immensely better.

Finally, it’s imperative to take some time off for yourself. This is easier said than done for a new mother; your newborn will be making constant demands of you. If you treat yourself right, however, and meticulously plan out your return to work, you’ll find yourself back in the office before you know it.