Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Post Partum Productivity

A twitter conversation I had with @fishscientist got me thinking about how long it took me to find my groove as a working mother post partum. Being the complete and utter geek that I am, I decided to graph it:

(If you do not have super-bionic eyes: click on the graphic to get a bigger version so you can read the annotations.)

Of course, I got pregnant with Petunia when Pumpkin was about 21 months old. So my productivity took a nose dive again not long after this chart finishes. The chart the second time around looks pretty similar, but I think I got up to about 75% productivity faster, because I was more organized and already knew the drill with pumping and how to ensure productivity when sleep deprived (hint: it involves lists.)

I do really think that my productivity is close to what it was before I started this whole motherhood experiment- and based on my experience when Pumpkin started sleeping through the night, I expect it to jump up again soon. (Petunia is soooo close to sleeping through reliably, I just know it. I've got a bed for her on its way- I'm hoping that is the last piece we need. That and for me to grow a backbone and just wean her already. We are making progress on that front, too, though.)

What about you? Would your productivity curve look similar? What was the "breakthrough" for you to get your productivity back?


  1. Cecilia1:26 AM

    For me I'm hoping that the breakthrough will be very soon, we've just made it trough to the otherwise of winter (southern hemisphere).... And what has to be the end of my second child's immune system getting use to being in care three days a week.
    8 bouts of gasteroenteritis, 3-4 serious colds, and hand foot and mouth virus.
    There is only so much work I could do at home, I'm in a synthetic medicinal chemistry post- doc, hands on wet chemistry...
    Thankfully I've got a very understanding boss.

    I'm sure the first winter with number one was the time when I asked myself a can this be worth it, but it did get better, and I started to be able to put in the hours I was contracted to.

  2. You just graphed my life. ;) "If you do not have super-bionic eyes" = LOL!

  3. Anonymous4:17 AM

    My productivity also dropped when DC hit daycare and everybody in the family got sick for 6 months.

    With no maternity leave, it was pretty high early on, even with sleep dep. I was super structured and scheduled and people were leaving me alone with useless interruptions.

  4. First baby, my productivity was back on track by about 12 months because I had stopped breastfeeding at that point, and DS was sleeping through the night.

    Second baby got up to speed much faster, I'd say about 9 months, because, even though we're still nursing we night weaned around 7/8 months (how can I already not remember?). Based on that, I would say that productivity is almost entirely tied to amount of sleep I am getting.

  5. You missed the productivity drop of the first (and second, third, and fourth) illness. Or maybe the first winter. Or possibly just the first year where it looks like saw blade teeth.

    With my second, I think I was back to my normal productivity at 2 weeks after going back to work, but only because I took a long maternity leave (5 months) and it was my second kid.

  6. On the impact of illnesses- yes, there is a sawtooth effect if you zoom in, as each illness knocks productivity a bit. But Pumpkin was such an overall crappy sleeper, that it wouldn't impact my overall curve. By the time her sleep improved (at about 2 years), we were through the worst of the day care illnesses, and she actually rarely gets sick now. (Yes, I'm knocking on wood.) And at the time when the day care illness effect would have been felt with my better-sleeping Petunia, I got laid off and my productivity plummeted!

  7. Well, both of my kids were born in graduate shool, so my productivity after each was born was pretty similar. I had motivation to finish. I especially had motivation after my 2nd was born and I wrote the 2nd half of my dissertation during his first 4 months of life (let's just say I'm thankful he was a great napper for those first 4 months and waited until 2 days after my defense to start waking up 45 minutes into each nap).

  8. It is refreshing to hear that the productivity eventually goes back up!

  9. I definitely feel as productive as before my kids. I don't work as long hours - that's the main difference. So I'm getting a little less work done than before as a result.But being more advanced professionally than I was 4 years ago also means that I know what I'm doing more, so I can get tasks done faster. We've been lucky and haven't had a ton of illnesses, and I (mostly) nightweaned at 7.5 months both times, which means I've had mostly decent sleep for a long time (with the exception of the brutal 18 month sleep regression, which we are just entering with #2). And I also had two long maternity leaves (long by US standards - 6 months apiece) so that helped, although I did work part-time during both leaves. And I agree with #2 I got up and running a lot faster (I was edited page proofs when he was 2 and 3 weeks old). I kept nursing #2 once at 3 AM even though he could sleep through the night, to avoid the sharp dip in my milk production that I experienced with #1 when he started sleeping through the night.

  10. Over the past couple months I have finally started feeling like myself again, which is a mixed blessing. My little monkey just turned 1 year old on the 19th. It's exciting to not have to write things on my hand so I don't forget them. It didn't really work anyway, I'd just forget to look at my hand.

  11. Anonymous7:39 AM

    That's pretty much right on! I'm just past the end of pumping, and looking forward to the sleeping through the night phase. This time around, I kept making so many pumping mistakes (leaving parts at home, pump breaking, leaving milk at work, etc), it was nice to know I'm not the only one doing that, but wow, I'm glad to be done.

  12. Alissa8:16 PM

    Sleeping patterns take a while to establish. Sadly, parents have to adjust to the baby and not the other way around. When you do get some down time, make sure to try natural sleep aids before your nap to make the most of it.


Sorry for the CAPTCHA, folks. The spammers were stealing too much of my time.