Childbirth is one of the most wonderful moments in a woman’s life. The idea of bringing new life into the world through your body is something that cannot be put into words. However, what can be put into words is the employment status of said mothers.
The study shows that only 47.5% of women on maternity leave were paid for their absence. This is a staggering statistic that illustrates how skewed our view of gender equality really is.
However, future moms rarely have a choice in the matter. Once the pregnancy starts taking shape, a leave of absence is necessary for the process to go on smoothly.
As the baby comes to the world, new moms are forced to look for new work or reintegrate themselves into existing positions. But how can you really do that?
How can you adapt to a new (or existing) workplace after a long hiatus due to maternity leave? These tips will help going back to work after maternity leave.
Don’t quit your job
In India, women have enviable workplace maternity leave entitlements since The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
However, women in countries like the US do not get paid maternity leave. In fact, the US is the only developed nation not to have paid leave for new moms.
If you live in the US and have a stable job in a profession which you feel passionate about – fight for it. Don’t let your boss or manager fire you just because you have a baby on the way. Know your rights when going back to work after maternity leave.
Instead, negotiate your way into a maternity leave – paid or unpaid – without losing the job. It is much harder to get back into the groove if you become unemployed due to your pregnancy.
Being employed while pregnant will allow you to get news and updates from work. You can always call up a colleague or have someone over for coffee and talk. However, if you close that door for good, your return to form will be much more difficult afterwards.
Prepare for multitasking
Being a parent is full-time work. Whether you are a single mom or a happily-married wife, chances are that you will take the majority of the blow when it comes to the baby. Father figures are important in the healthy development of a child – however, moms still take precedent.
A mother and her child have been connected for nine whole months – mind and body. This means that your child will always seek your attention before anyone else’s.
Going to work and taking care of your child will start to take a toll on you if you don’t organize your time effectively. Make sure to have strict hours set for your child and know when you will be unavailable due to work. A balanced work-home life isn’t impossible if you put everything on paper and start prioritizing.
Reevaluate your career path
Going on a leave of absence for six or more months will change your perspective on life in general. You can use this time to reflect on your career path so far and make new plans. For example, you may want to focus on new skills and networking when you get back from your maternity leave.
Alternatively, you can choose to take on a different career altogether. In that case, you can find a professional writer who will help you create a new resume.
Applying for new and exciting job opportunities is a viable option just as going back to secure work is. Every woman is responsible for her own professional development. Use the opportunity given to you and think about what is best for you and your newborn.
Go straight to your boss
Whether you are coming back to your old work or applying for new work, make sure to speak to your manager or CEO as soon as possible. Tell them about your recent experience and your new position as a mother as well as a professional.
Emphasize your willingness to work hard and make up for anything that you might have missed in your absence. Most bosses and managers are reluctant to take back a woman after maternity leave due to her being out of the loop. Of course, this varies across different US states and world countries.
Don’t wait to be patronized and confront the issue of your absence firsthand. Your manager will appreciate the initiative and honesty in your voice, making your transition into the workplace that much easier.
Look for a nanny early
Find a babysitter if you plan on getting back on track with your professional career – and do it fast. Babysitters are a cheap and easy way to ensure that your newborn has some care and attention while you are away.
You can hire students or professional nannies depending on your budget and needs. Your husband should also take the brunt of babysitting while you are working – this is especially true if he works from a home office.
The baby should get as much attention while you are at work as it would with you present in the house. Hired help in the form of a caring nanny would do the trick nicely.
A gradual return
Pregnancy takes a huge mental and physical toll on a woman, so don’t rush to get back into the fold. Your first day back to work after maternity leave can be a shock to your system.
No one can blame you if you take it easy in the first weeks of your return. Instead, ask your boss to work shorter hours for the first several days. Gradually raise your limits until you are back to full capacity as you were before you left.
This will make your return much smoother and easier to handle. Not to mention that you will spend most of your first days on the job getting up to speed with recent developments.
If this is impossible, make sure to take breaks, sit down often and consume plenty of sustenance.
Support groups help
It may sound like a downer but you are not the first professional woman who became a mother. There are numerous support groups, forums and amazing counselling organizations all around the globe.
You can enrol in one of these groups if you want to get some advice on motherhood, career development and to feel better in general. Don’t shut your motherly instincts away just because you have to work.
This is a great opportunity especially if you don’t know any mothers around the neighbourhood who can talk to you. Take care of yourself just as much as you do for the baby. It needs you to be mentally prepared for all the growing pains and challenges that follow.
Check in with your doctor
Lastly, make sure to give your doctor a visit from time to time. You have recently gone through a tremendous physical ordeal. Your doctor will give you the necessary advice to get back to work as painlessly as possible.
It will also help you alleviate any fatigue you might experience as a result of your recent pregnancy and childbirth. Talk to him or her anytime you feel differently about your body or your child. A simple pat on the back from our trusting doctor can do wonders for our mood during the week.
It will never be easy for new mothers to get back on their career track. Some professions simply expand and develop too fast for someone to jump back in without problems.
However, there is always space for progression and development for women across the globe. There are a plethora of career opportunities available at every step – some specifically tailored for moms.
Make sure to explore all of your options before you give up on going back to work after a maternity leave. After all, you’ve done it all for the little one in your life – go the extra mile and do a little bit more.
About the author:
Daniela McVicker is an author and editor at Rated by Students. She is a firm believer in giving women a chance at professional development and independence. She enjoys blogging, reading classic literature and listening to soft jazz.
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