By Amy Levin-Epstein

(CBSMoneyWatch) Returning from maternity leave can be a tough transition for some new moms. So if you’re getting ready to join the ranks of working mothers, there are some things you can do now to make it easier later. Here are six smart steps to take.

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Talk about your length of leave early

Your maternity leave will go more smoothly if you discuss specific terms and conditions well before it starts. This is especially important if you want to take more than the standard allotted time your company offers to new moms. “It will make it much easier for your boss and colleagues to manage and much less stressful for you when the little one arrives and you are worried about how to tell your work environment,” says Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of “The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier.” 

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Lay down your electronic ground rules

Will you be on email 24-7, check in once a day (or week) by phone, or stay away from all communications completely until you return? “Be crystal clear — first off with yourself — about if and how you will check in and then be very clear and firm in expressing the arrangement to your boss,” says Selena Rezvani, author of “Pushback: How Smart Women Ask — And Stand Up — For What They Want.”Whether or not you stay in touch is up to you — and will depend on your situation. “Not everyone needs to check in during their leave, but it’s more important for the woman that’s close to a promotion or trying to maintain visibility,” says Rezvani.

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