Baby blues: New mothers take nearly six months to readjust after going back to work

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And almost a quarter found the working environment was nothing like the one they left behind before giving birth. Almost one in five felt their boss and colleagues didn’t understand what they had been through – both mentally and physically. This led to 14 percent being concerned that the effects of medical issues brought on by pregnancy and childbirth made them look unprofessional.

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

The study, by Tena, also revealed one in five women were even left in tears after just a few days of being 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 even harder – especially with the taboo around it making it difficult to talk about.”

Blogger 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 mothers 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 four in 10 felt guilty about going to work instead of being at home with their baby.

Having to leave their child with someone else was the top concern for new mums about returning to their job, along with juggling childcare and the cost, and fitting back into their role.

But 62 percent were looking forward to earning money again and 43 percent wanted to get back to having adult conversations.

However, the study found that of the 29 percent, who suffered from long-term after-effects from 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.

Others suffered in silence to avoid being treated differently because they had children (40 percent), or not wanting to be overlooked for promotion or certain tasks (19 percent).

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.

One respondent was advised not to go for higher level roles, as they were returning part time, while another mum felt that as they were unable to stay late due to childcare, they weren’t given certain jobs or tasks.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found 31 percent feel COVID-19 will make it easier for women to return to work, with 53 percent of those putting this down to it now being more acceptable to work from home, which makes childcare easier.

And 42 percent think the rise of working from home means it is easier for women to deal with the physical effects of having a baby. 

Almost half (49 percent) think bosses have become more understanding of the pressures those with children face, while 39 percent think they have become more understanding of everyone’s individual health issues.

Lisa Myers 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, go here.

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