I recently came across an interview where someone made a comment about how women are coming back from maternity leave ready to take on work, being energised and rested.
This left me speechless and upset.
I’ve been working with and supporting new mums for over 20 years. This statement didn’t match my experience or even come close to what I’ve seen or what new mothers tell me when discussing the topic of returning to work after maternity leave.
This has nothing to do with reality and gave a very misleading picture of the transition period.
Unrealistic expectations put new mothers under pressure to hide their situation in order to keep the position.
This statement angered me as this may be a general expectation of new mums from the employers and team members.
Becoming a new mother is a life-changing experience and no matter how many books someone has read or how many classes attended, nothing will prepare you for the sleepless nights and confidence in how to handle this new tiny human. It’s a huge learning curve: dealing with colic, breastfeeding, hormonal changes alongside the physical recovery from the birth.
Returning to work after maternity leave should not only be well planned but supported by the company, members and colleagues.
There may be aspects of returning to work which need to be addressed and discussed, i.e. breastfeeding/milk expressing, childcare. These conversations are sensitive and might have a significant impact on employee/employer. They need to be carried out with respect and consideration on both sides.
Understanding where the employee is at when returning from maternity leave is crucial. From this the organisation will know how to provide the right care and support to facilitate a smooth transition. This can take a huge weight off of the new mum’s shoulders, improve the company’s brand, culture and increase productivity.
Open and honest conversations with new mothers are not only a step forward to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. These conversations will also share light on how new mothers really feel when they are returning to work and how we can all support them so they can succeed in their roles. I can guarantee there is no more loyal, hard-working and proactive employee than a new mother who feels supported.
Need help with difficult conversations or how to support new mothers in your company, please email and schedule a meeting.
Learn more about how I can help your company support new mothers when returning from maternity leave.