Mothers’ fears about going back to work after a baby

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Other concerns include dealing with company changes after an average of 10 months away and coping with the physical effects of becoming a mum in the workplace. However, being able to earn again, have “adult” conversations and having a reminder of their pre-baby life were positives to come from rejoining the workforce.

A poll of 1,000 mothers who have gone back to work after having a baby found 31 percent found it harder than they expected.

As a result, new mums take nearly six months to readjust after going back to work – with nearly a quarter saying the workplace is “completely different”.

Just under one in five felt their boss and colleagues didn’t understand what they had been through – mentally and physically.

And one in seven felt patronised by their male – and female – colleagues as they learned to juggle work and parenting.

The study by incontinence product brand Tena also revealed one in five women had broken down in tears after just a few days back at work.

Lisa Myers, from Tena, said: “Returning to work after having a baby can be a huge adjustment for many women.

“Regardless of how much you loved your job, or how good you were at it before you had a baby, during that time away, however long or short your maternity leave was, your whole life has changed.

“Your priorities are different and as you try to juggle childcare and your responsibilities as a parent with your job, you can feel isolated and as if no one understands – particularly if your boss and colleagues don’t have children of their own.

“This is also made worse by the physical and mental effects of having a baby – many of which can still be affecting women months or even years later.

“At a time when confidence levels may already be low as mums adjust to being back in the workplace after months away, issues such as post-natal incontinence can make that return to work even harder – especially with the taboo around it making it difficult to talk about.”

Broadcaster Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, and comedian Athena Kugblenu, have spoken about their experiences and the challenges of being working mums in a video.

The study also found that while 27 percent of new mums felt excited at the prospect of returning to work, 52 percent were worried and 37 percent went as far as to say they were dreading it.

And 14 percent worried that this meant the effects of medical issues brought on by pregnancy and childbirth just made them look unprofessional.

As a result, of the 29 percent who suffered from some long-term after-effects of having a baby, such as post-natal incontinence or post-natal depression, just 22 percent were completely open with their colleagues or boss.

Of those who kept it to themselves, 53 percent did so out of embarrassment while 55 percent didn’t want others to think they weren’t up to the job, according to the study carried out via OnePoll.

A quarter of those who suffered long-term physical or mental effects of pregnancy and childbirth said it affected their career, with 32 percent also feeling like their colleagues or boss treated them differently as a result of their issues.

Lisa Myers, from Tena, added: “The working landscape has changed considerably over the last few months – especially for those who are based in offices.

“And there are many who believe the rise of working from home will benefit those mums returning from maternity leave – especially if they are also dealing with the physical or mental effects of having a baby.”

For more information on mums returning to work after having a baby, including advice from Mother Pukka and Athena Kugblenu, click here.

Top 10 worries about returning to work

1. Leaving your baby/child with someone else (54 percent)

2. Juggling childcare (48 percent)

3. Fitting back into your job and knowing the role (41 percent)

4. Paying for childcare (38 percent)

5. Having to be more organised to get everything ready for work/nursery/school in the morning (38 percent)

6. Having to take time off work when your baby/child is ill (37 percent)

7. Dealing with changes that happened with your job/company while you were away (33 percent)

8. Fitting back into the team when your life had changed so much (29 percent)

9. Colleagues not understanding the pressures of having a child (23 percent)

10. Not being able to work late/ come in early when everyone else does (23 percent)


Top 10 things mothers were looking forward to about returning to work

1. Earning money (62 percent)

2. Having an adult conversation (43 percent)

3. Having time to yourself (38 percent)

4. Feeling like “you” again (37 percent)

5. Using your brain again (36 percent)

6. Having a life away from just being a mum (33 percent)

7. Being back to a little bit of normality from your pre-baby life (33 percent)

8. Being back with your team/colleagues (32 percent)

9. Having a routine again which didn’t revolve around feeding and nappy changes (26 percent)

10. Watercooler gossip (9 percent)

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