Here is a guest blog about returning to work after maternity leave has ended from Abby Kennedy-Brown. Abby is a wife and mum of 2 children, a 4 year old girl and a 5 month old boy. She works for the NHS and volunteers for Early Nourishment as a Social Media ambassador. 

Mixed Feelings

Thinking about returning to work after maternity leave can bring on such a mixture of feelings, both positive and negative. These can include excitement, anxiety, guilt and worry. It can be a particularly difficult transition for mothers. Remember, your feelings are completely valid. You’re allowed to feel both elated and sad about it. 

You have grown, birthed and spent numerous months watching your baby grow and learn. You’ve created an attachment and bond like no other. So naturally you might feel a bit nervous handing your baby over to family or childcare. You’ve spent so much time together and now all of a sudden the time has come to return to work and you’re not sure how you feel about it.


Endless Questions

For some, it can be a daunting thought returning to society outside of the perfect baby bubble you’ve created during maternity leave. Returning to a strict routine can also seem overwhelming. 

Am I going to get us both ready in time? 

Am I still going to be good at my job? 

Can I really be a good mum whilst working a job too? 

It can bring up lots of questions and anxieties, but talk them through with your family. Share your worries and try and plan to make things more manageable for you and baby. You may find once you’re back at work you gain your confidence, both as a working mum and a competent colleague. It’s a big change for you both, but it’s one you’ll navigate together. 

It may be that you’re looking forward to going back to work. You might be counting down the days until you return to a world with adult company and where you feel you have a role other than being “Mum”. Sometimes the freedom from the responsibilities at home is refreshing and your work can provide you with a sense of purpose and direction. Don’t feel guilty for wanting something that’s just for you. Your job can sometimes help bring a great sense of independence and accomplishment. 

Depending on individual experiences, maternity leave isn’t for everyone. It can be a particularly hard period of your life, so it’s OK to welcome this new chapter of being a working mum. 

Do What Works For You

If you are particularly struggling with the thought of leaving your baby, just remember; lots of things are only temporary. If you find your job doesn’t work for you and your family when you return, or you don’t enjoy it and it’s making you unhappy, have a re think. Perhaps there’s something else that can allow for a better home, life balance. It’s important to still feel happy in whatever it is you’re doing. Knowing there are other options out there can make all the difference when considering your plan after maternity leave. 

You might be planning to return to work part time. This means you may still have time to take your little one to your favourite baby class or meet mummy friends for a coffee and catch up on your days off in the week. Having plans and little things to look forward to will get you through those times at work when you’re missing them. 

How To Prepare

If you’re returning to work full time and feel anxious about this big change, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and baby in taking this next step; 

⭐️ Make a plan in advance. Think about the logistics and timings to help make that transition as smooth and as easy as possible for you once you return to work. 

⭐️ Use the evenings to make lunches and lay out all your clothes for the morning so you’re not rushing and feeling stressed. 

⭐️ Plan some evenings out and spend time at the weekends as a family without any other distractions. 

⭐️ Make sure your little one has spent some time settling in to their new environment with family or at their childcare setting. Organise some visits and leave them there for a little while. This will help ease you both in gradually, so it will hopefully feel less overwhelming for you both when the time comes for that separation. 

⭐️ Ease yourself in by organising a few keep in touch days with your work before your maternity leave ends. This can help you and baby gradually get used to what’s to come without it being a sudden shock to you both. 

⭐️ The first few weeks back at work can be difficult. Be honest with how you feel about this milestone. Lean on your partner or family, they can be a great pillar of support if you’re finding it overwhelming. 


And Finally…

Don’t panic! You’ll find your groove eventually. Everything won’t seem so overwhelming once you’re in a good routine and the initial worries and anxieties have passed. You’ll find a manageable flow of day to day life and you’ll find a way that works for you and your family. After all, you’ve spent so much time already adapting to different baby phases and milestones, you’re practically an expert at just working things out! 

Don’t forget! Be kind to yourself during the transition, you’re doing great! It’s OK to feel sad that you’re leaving your baby and it’s OK to feel excited to find some independence outside of being a mum.

Good luck! You got this! 

If you need support with practical or emotional aspects of going back to work, please get in touch or come along to one of our drop-ins where you can chat to one of our breastfeeding counsellors or amazing volunteer peer supporters.