5 Tips for Returning to Work After Maternity Leave


Having a baby is not only a game changer, it’s a life changer. And oftentimes your career is affected, even if only slightly. If you’re planning to take a maternity leave, are currently on your maternity leave, or are gearing up to start working again after a maternity leave, you’ll want to prepare.

Planning ahead can help make your transition back into the work place a much easier one for you, both emotionally and career-wise. With the help of several experts, Pregnancy Corner has provided you with five tips to help your maternity leave transition go as smoothly as possible.

Make it a Gradual Transition

Instead of hopping right back into the 40-hour work week, talk to your employer about a gradual transition. “Slowly easing back into the work world seems to be easiest on new moms,” says Jennifer Chung, a parenting expert and co-founder of Kinsights.com. For example, your first week back could just be half days while you readjust. Or you can decide to “return mid-week so your first week is a bit shorter as you’re getting back into the swing of things,” suggests Chung.

Talk To Your Employer Several Weeks Prior to Returning

You’ve probably already discussed some of the details with your employer, but calling a couple weeks in advance just to talk everything over will help you feel more at ease. At that time you can discuss any changes to the work place and even talk about sensitive topics such as lactating. “Having a conversation with a male boss about which room you can lactate in is literally the definition of ‘awkward’ in the dictionary,” says Elaine McGhee, founder of ThriveMomma and a working mom support coach. “Contact your boss or HR department about logistics for your first day back and where the pumping room is located so that the first day back will go smoothly.”

Give Yourself a Break That First Month

In addition to transitioning slowly back into the daily grind, go easy on yourself in the first month. “Expect the first couple of days to be extra rough. You’ll deal with foggy mommy brain, feeling out-of-the-loop about things surrounding your job, and you’ll be asked several hundred times, ‘How’s the baby?’ and ‘How are you handing your first days back to work?'” says Chung. All those questions and feelings of incompetence may leave you feeling emotional and upset, but try your best not to beat yourself up. Chung suggests calling your partner or friend on a break if you need a supportive voice to give you a morale booster.

Complete a Part-Time Work Assignment, or Start a Blog

It seems silly to do work while on your maternity leave, doesn’t it? Well, according to Joseph Terach, CEO at Resume Deli, working on a small project while you’re away can actually prove immensely helpful. Not only does it keep you in the loop with office happenings, but it gives you something to do for yourself aside from tending to baby. “If you can find just five or 10 hours per week — even for a short period — to take on consulting or freelance work during your maternity leave, it will help to rectify employment gaps on your resume and attest to your dedication to your field.”

Alternatively, Terach suggests starting a blog. “Blogs give you a great opportunity to develop and demonstrate your writing chops and flex a little intellectual muscle in the bargain,” he says. “It also provides a way to maintain connections to your industry and expand your following of professional contacts.” In lieu of your own blog, you could contribute to established websites or blogs.

Remember: You’re Working For You and Your Baby

Those first hours, days and even weeks away from your baby are emotionally difficult. You may struggle with self-doubt over whether you’re doing the right thing, and you may even feel guilty. However, you must keep in mind that you’re going to work for you, your child and your family. “You’re helping to give your baby the very best life possible,” says Chung. She adds, “Keep in mind that more than half of all new moms go back to work when their infants are younger than one year old. Many have conflicted emotions and most deal with a heavy dose of mommy guilt. You are not alone in your feelings. They are totally normal.”

This page was last updated on 06/2017
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