Let’s face it, returning to work after maternity leave can bring many emotions to any mum.
From the excitement of getting back into the working routine to the worry of being apart from our new little bundles throughout the day, the transition can sometimes be overwhelming. This is perfectly normal as so many of my mummy friends have attested to, since during our maternity leave, a lot can change and not just with regards to our job roles.
I’m the first to admit that throughout pregnancy there are many changes that our bodies experience and this also applies after you have given birth. This can take some getting used to when you return to work. In this post I’ll take a look at some of the common concerns mums have when returning to the workplace after maternity and I’ll suggest how to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst acknowledging that that is easier said than done when you’re tired and constantly juggling.
Oh the glamour! After giving birth women can be faced with a whole new host of health issues which can continue when they return to work. Some women may face several issues with breastfeeding in the postpartum period. In some cases when the breasts are full, they can leak and squirt milk so they will need to be pumped manually. Not to mention the feeling they may explode at any moment which is enough to put any of us on edge!
It’s worth investing in a good breast pump and a bag to carry it in. You may want to consider wearing and keeping nursing pads with you in the workplace too, as there may be times when you are delayed on pumping and they will help absorb any leakage while being discreet. For me, it is amazing how a small breast pad really helped put my mind at rest, whilst sitting in meetings at work.
In case child birth and leaking breasts is not enough, a common side effect many mums face after pregnancy is body odour, specifically in the genital and armpit area. This new ‘motherly smell’ is due to the many changes in our hormones and again is perfectly normal.
Even though you may think you smell pretty bad, it’s unlikely others will notice. However, it’s important that you maintain good personal hygiene and stay fresh by showering often and using appropriate daily washes. My recommendation is to avoid having to have yet another thing to worry about and I treated myself to my favourite perfume just to make me feel a bit better about having to go back to work.
A big challenge many mums face when going back to work is getting back into a proper sleep routine. Ideally you’d coordinate your baby’s daytime sleeping pattern and your work schedule (although anyone that can achieve this is a magician). The goal is to try to get enough sleep to function properly at work. I would recommend sleeping when your baby sleeps rather than running round trying to do jobs, if at all possible. If the ironing isn’t done it’s not the end of the world.
Decide what time you need to leave the house by and if you need to drop your child off somewhere beforehand. Try to plan in the time that it will take to get you and your baby ready and practise getting up at this new time a week or so before heading back to work to allow you time to adjust to the new routine. Always build in an extra 10-15 minutes for emergency nappies or projectile vomits onto your work outfit (which in my experience, often happen just as you’re trying to leave the house). Try to get all bags (and a spare outfit for your little ones) ready at the door the night before to avoid unnecessary stresses.
A lot of women lose control over their bladder in the third trimester and it’s often presumed that full control will come back after you have given birth. But, as many of us who actively avoid trampolines know, this isn’t always the case, and some women find running, laughing, sneezing or even a simple cough can cause a leak or dribble.
If you’re worried that incontinence could be an embarrassing issue for you in the workplace, speak to your doctor. Postpartum incontinence is unlikely to go away on its own and your doctor may recommend pelvic floor exercises or other therapies, resolutions. If you find that these don’t help, you may be referred to a physiotherapist or to a gynecologist.
Remember it is okay to feel overwhelmed, and it is okay to have a bad day or week or month. Becoming a mum is a huge adjustment and you are only human. But looking after yourself and trying to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle is important to give you strength for looking after your little people. Mum’s do an amazing job even on the days they don’t feel they are!
Are you looking to return to work after a career break? Searching for advice and tips? WeAreTheCity has a whole dedicated section to returnships and returning to work. You can find open returnship opportunities, advice for experts about returning to work and tips on flexible working.