Is postpartum health reducing the retention of female talent?

return to work and returnshipsPostpartum health challenges may be intimate, embarrassing and unspoken, certainly in the workplace. But they’re affecting women at work every day, directly impacting mental health, confidence and ability to thrive or excel.

In 2021, the life of a working or returning parent is more stressful than ever.  Physical and mental health are further compromised due to isolation and anxiety.

30% of women say that pelvic health issues have affected their performance or focus at work.

41% of women have taken time off work for health issues that they did not want to discuss with their boss.

36% of women have dealt with anxiety, embarrassment or discomfort at work due to pelvic health issues*

Having the right conversations at the right time

Mothers’ time management and multitasking skills can make them the most productive members of the workforce.

But sadly 29% of HR execs admit they don’t know what the right conversations are to have with women before and after maternity leave. And 18% admit they have seen management push mothers out of their jobs. A lack of open dialogue to support working mums leads to a lack of understanding of their physical and mental health challenges.

Businesses are under-using or losing the most potentially productive talent in the workforce.

Physical challenges and symptoms she won’t tell you about

Incontinence affects almost half of all women.

37% of women have wet themselves at work within the last month.

Of those, 21% wet themselves weekly.

8% reported urinary leakage daily, whilst at work.

These concerns can lead to loss of concentration (19%), loss of ability to perform physical tasks (29%) and interruption of work for toilet breaks (34%).

50% of postnatal women experience pelvic organ prolapse with symptoms of bladder and bowel dysfunction.

These treatable symptoms mean she’s less focused, less able to perform physically and is taking frequent breaks due to discomfort, anxiety and distraction. The result could also be more sick days, less focus and decreased productivity and happiness at work.

Reasons for time off she won’t tell you about

Up to 23% of women take time off work because of their incontinence.

These symptoms are treatable, but in the absence of the right information, care and dialogue, there may be lack of willingness to talk openly.

Why she’s less focussed and engaged            

If basic dignity, physical function and free, comfortable movement are restricted, no one can feel confident or strong. When embarrassment, shame or anxiety are our prevailing emotions, it’s hard to be fully focussed and engaged at work. We certainly can’t thrive or excel.

87% of women state that dealing with pelvic health issues has affected their mental health9. These symptoms may have a profound effect on employee happiness and your business, but sadly the conversation is unlikely to ever be raised.

90% of returners claim they had no formal support programme on their return to work. 53% of working mums link episodes of depression after going back to work with poor treatment at work. 30% of mothers who return to work after maternity leave encounter a mental health issue.

Why she’s not speaking up or putting herself forward

How often have we heard or believed, ‘women just don’t put themselves forward for those senior roles’, ‘she doesn’t speak up’ or ‘she chooses’… stay-at-home motherhood / part-time hours / not to attend events or socials.

These decisions may not always be positive choices, or made from a position of equality. If women cannot reach their physical or mental health potential, then they are disadvantaged in their productivity and progress at work.

Both employers and employees often feel frustrated by a low female representation, especially at senior levels. But unconscious bias and assumption often means that organizations are missing the real reasons why this is the case.

Employers may not be considering all the best people for the job, mistaking lack of self- promotion for a lack of interest or ambition.

Maternity and returner policies affect whether she applies for a job with you

Potential employees who are, or may become, parents are looking at gender equality stats, parental leave and pay, transitional back-to-work support, KIT days, mentorship, breastfeeding policy, childcare, flexible working and health and wellness support.


The return to work phase is the point at which most women fall out of the workplace. Turnover of new parents is high, and it costs up to £3o,000 to replace an employee. Retention continues to be a priority for companies, however, keeping new mothers engaged provides a different set of challenges.

The majority of professional women (74%) intend to return to the same employer however. Just 24% go on to do so.9 Better to look after the ones you’ve got.

The transition back into work from parenthood presents challenges that affect energy, drive and focus. These topics may not come up in conversation, but the effects on productivity and confidence to stay in work are real.

What can companies do?

Comprehensive Maternity Leave Benefit and Corporate Wellness packages are good for reputation, staff physical and mental health, and for retention and productivity.

MUTU System are leaders in at-home digital health for women. MUTU is NHS Apps Library-Approved and offers corporate employee wellness and rewards to ensure the care and retention of mothers returning to work.

Contact Founder & CEO Wendy Powell

About the author

Wendy PowellWendy Powell is the founder of MUTU System, a global medically recommended digital specialist core and pelvic floor programme for all mothers, clinically trialled in the NHS and approved by the NHS Apps library. MUTU is proven to improve physical symptoms including back pain, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, painful sex and diastasis recti, as well as improve mental health and self-esteem The programme is used by over 75,000 women in more than 150 countries.

MUTU System membership includes expert, personal support in MUTU Connect as well as all programme content. It costs £99 for 12-months access and has a 60-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.  MUTU System is the right programme for women looking to bolster body confidence, treat leaking, enjoy pain free sex and receive expert support and guidance through the member’s community of likeminded women.

The full programme and extras can be found here.

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