Having a baby is an exciting time. Whether it’s your first or you are adding to the family, the arrival of your little one is unforgettable. You find yourself wanting to soak up every moment so that you don’t miss a second. Between feeds, naps, and playtimes, the days can feel neverending. And yet, the time seems to pass by so quickly because, soon enough, it’s time to return to the office.
Returning to work after having a baby is a difficult adjustment for most women. Rest assured that if you dread returning to work after maternity leave, you’re not the only one. Going back to work after having a baby is a huge change and it can take time to adjust to your new responsibilities and rhythms.
In this article, we will be sharing what to expect when returning to work after having a baby so that you can prepare, both emotionally and physically, for this new time in your life.
Request a Phased Return to Work
As a new mum, the thought of immediately returning to a 40-hour workweek can feel overwhelming. From the fear of missing out and feelings of mum guilt to delayed physical recovery after a traumatic birth resulting in injury, returning to work as a new mum is a time filled with emotion. With so much on your plate, being expected to jump straight back into work and pick up where you left off can feel like a lot to deal with.
That’s why we highly recommend requesting a phased return to work. This is something many companies offer to employees returning from long absences to help ease the transition back into work. For example, you might start by working a half-day two times a week and then slowly build from there. The amount you work and how quickly you build back up to your previous working patterns is something that can be agreed upon between you and your employer. But the most important thing to remember is that you should take everything at your own pace.
Adjusting back into work can be both emotionally and physically challenging for women who have had a baby, so take things slow and steady.
Request More Flexibility
We don’t need to tell you that being a mum is a full-time job on its own. So, it’s no surprise that adding work into the mix can be a challenge. If returning to your full-time, pre-pregnancy work schedule simply doesn’t feel possible for you right now, consider requesting more flexibility. You might ask to work from home part-time, work more flexible hours, job share with another person on your team, or suggest new working hours that better suit your schedule.
Flexible working is a must for most parents. Between nursery and childcare arrangements, your child’s medical needs, and the added complication of breastfeeding or pumping, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Having a flexible work schedule can really help ease any anxiety you may be feeling about returning to work. So, it’s important to talk to your manager about what kind of flexibility is available to you so that you balance both your personal and professional ambitions.
Ask for Space to Pump at Work
Not every mother can or wants to breastfeed and that is a choice that every mother should be permitted to make themselves. However, if you are breastfeeding your baby, you might want to consider how your breastfeeding schedule will be affected upon your return to work. According to the NHS, “it is likely that you’ll be breastfeeding when you return to work.” So, preparing for this likelihood in advance will help allow for an easier transition.
We recommend speaking with your employer in advance and organising a quiet space in the office where you can pump during the day. If you need to pump at work, be sure to let your employer know so they can arrange a private space for you to do so. Bathroom facilities should not be accepted as suitable spaces for pumping.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Being a new mum can be an exciting time but it can also be a time full of challenges. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with loved ones who can support you through the ups and downs of parenthood and cheer you on every step of the way.
We believe having the right support is particularly important for when you return to the world of work. Going back to work is a huge change for the whole family – and that includes baby – so, it should come as no surprise that you will need as much support as you can get.
Having close family members and friends who you can talk to about how you are feeling and seek advice from can be so comforting. And if you feel like you could do with specialist support of some kind, always reach out to your GP who will happily guide you in the right direction.
Be Kind to Yourself
When the time comes for you to return to work, it’s easy to assume that everything will fall back into place and you will simply pick up from where you left off. But that’s not reality. Whether you struggle to transition back into the working world or you enjoy taking on a new challenge, adjusting to work again will have its challenges. So, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Be patient and give yourself time to adjust. You have been through so many changes – emotionally and physically – so, it’s no surprise that you need a breather now and then. Just remember to take things one step at a time.
Remember, if you are dreading returning to work after having a baby, you are not alone. There are so many new mums who are feeling exactly the same. So, be kind to yourself. Returning to work after having a baby is a big change. However, we hope the advice in this article will help make the transition a little easier on both you and your baby.