You may be feeling depressed about going back to work after maternity leave. It is not easy to return to the office and leaving your baby in the hands of daycare professionals, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed as a new mom.
But many mothers decide that it is best for their family’s financial situation or want to continue their career, so they go back to work after maternity leave. Here are some ways you can feel empowered in your decision!
Feeling Depressed About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave?
New Mom Emotions
When you first have a baby, you’re overwhelmed with all kinds of new emotions. Some of them are wonderful, and others are terrifying. All of them are normal.
You might be experiencing an entirely new kind of love for this little life. Not only do you feel a burst of oxytocin snuggling with or breastfeeding your newborn, but you might feel inextricably linked with this tiny person. You are their mother, and they are your baby. And that is a beautiful, powerful feeling.
Of course, it’s also normal to find yourself suddenly filled with fear. Will I be a good mother? Will I be able to give my child everything they need? Will I be able to protect my child from the horrors of the world? These are terrifying thoughts, but they are based on the primal instincts to take care of our children and pass on our family line.
More and more women understand the complexity of postpartum depression, its signs, and how common it really is. This is a wonderful thing.
However, many people are still unaware of it. So when you’re depressed about going back to work after maternity leave or overwhelmed with motherhood in general – which is totally normal- your partner or others in your life may not understand what’s happening to you and try to make you feel guilty for being depressed. This can be a terrible feeling that makes an already difficult time even more difficult.
Some signs of postpartum depression include:
– feeling depressed or overwhelmed almost all of the time
– having no motivation to do anything, even things you used to enjoy doing regularly. Feeling like your life is on pause while everyone else gets to live their lives without caring about your baby every minute
– not bonding with your newborn (or older children) at all or quickly detaching from them
– having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby (suicidal ideation)
If you think that you might be depressed, please talk to someone. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and no matter what the reason is for your depression – it’s okay! There are options out there like therapy and medication that can help you through this.
Check out Postpartum Support International for more help.
Maternity Leave and Financial Insecurity
In today’s economy, more women are becoming their family’s primary breadwinner. This means that if a woman decides to leave her job for any length of time after she has a baby, it can be hard on the whole family financially. If you’re depressed about going back to work after maternity leave and you’re struggling with feelings of financial insecurity, know that this is normal.
However, it’s important to remember that just because we might not be able to do everything we want for our families does NOT mean they don’t love us or need us. We still have power over how much time we can spend with them – even if it’s just on weekends.
Feeling depressed about going back to work after maternity leave is normal, but don’t let your emotions trap you in a negative space! You still have the power to make choices that are right for *you*, even when they might not be what society expects of women or moms.
Know that Even Experienced Moms Have Difficulties Coping
Even if you’ve had several children doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a breeze. Even experienced mothers can struggle to adapt to their new normal or incorporate this newborn into an already bulging schedule.
So if you’re not a new mom, just know that your feelings are valid too. You don’t have to have all the answers just because you’ve been down this road before.
RELATED POST: 15 Tips for Overwhelmed Moms
13 Tips for Working Moms to Feel Better About Going Back to Work
1) Find Trustworthy Childcare
If you’re feeling anxious about returning to work, finding a safe place for your child to go can make or break your anxiety. If you find a childcare provider you trust and who has lots of experience with infants, you can feel better about going back to work.
It will make you feel infinitely better to know your new baby will be with a childcare center that can address their individual needs and be an effective support system for you.
2) Make sure you know your new schedule.
When you’re on maternity leave, you’re on baby’s time! When you return to work, you’re not at the mercy of a new life but back on a schedule dictated by your boss.
Have your work schedule in your calendar or planner and your phone so that you can prepare yourself mentally for those changes. And be sure to give yourself plenty of extra time in the morning!
3) Practice Self-Care
Self-care is about caring for yourself, not just your baby. It’s important to remember that you’re an individual too and need time to take care of yourself! Prioritizing self-care will help you feel better about returning to work.
Take time each day for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes of quiet time or some deep breaths before your next meeting. Make sure that someone else is taking care of your baby so they can get the attention and care they need, too.
4) Learn to cope with your new role
The transition of going from a working woman to a new parent to a working mom isn’t easy. When you’re back to work, you may think others look at you differently, and maybe they do. There is a stigma that working moms aren’t as valuable at the office, but you can show them it’s false. You are a strong working mother.
5) Get your partner on board.
It’s essential for your partner to get on board with the new routine and also with how you feel. You can’t do this alone! Make sure they understand why you think the way that you do and how their support is helpful.
They might support you and your health by taking the baby when you need some sleep or are experiencing stress. Or they might even want to go to therapy with you as a way to cope together.
6) Find extra support
Family and friends are invaluable as parents. When you go back to work, they can be there to watch the baby for a little while, or they might have advice to offer about what helped them when they returned to work. Other working mom friends are there for emotional and mental support and can point you to resources that can help you!
7) Get rid of mom-guilt
Guilt is the opposite of what you want to experience. And guilt can come from ourselves, sure, but it’s more likely that it will come in the form of peer pressure or judgment from others.
Mom-shaming is all too common, but we don’t have to fall victim to it. Watch how you judge others and gently notify other people of when they have said something unhelpful or critical toward you. No one wants to spend their time feeling guilty of doing the best they can.
8) Be accepting of all your emotional states.
Toxic positivity is another major problem in our modern world. Feeling guilty for experiencing negative emotions is a clear sign of toxic positivity.
It’s OKAY to experience all emotions, from sadness, trepidation, worry, stress, and even being a little depressed. For us to really move through these emotions, we need to fully experience them instead of shaming ourselves for our feelings.
9) Be aware of any new symptoms of depression.
Going back to work can be stressful, but when we’re trying to cope and not feeling better, it may be time to talk to a professional. If you experience any of those signs of postpartum depression listed above,
Search for a skilled and experienced therapist in postpartum issues, miscarriage, or the like, because they will be able to help address your anxiety with professionalism and care.
10) Know the protocol at the office
The end of maternity leave means being back at work, both physically and mentally. Make sure you know what your boss expects, especially if you work in a more masculine environment or if your boss is a man. Know where you’re going to do your pumping (if you’re breastfeeding) and make sure you have a pump bag prepared.
When you prepare yourself for the expectations of returning to work, you can help address that transition period and release some of your anxiety.
11) Expect this adjustment will take time.
The first week back will be the hardest. But as the weeks go on, you’re going to start to get into more of a routine, and you’ll begin to be more confident.
Don’t fret if your transition back at work takes longer than you expected and you’re still experiencing anxiety. Your mental health is worth giving the time and effort to get into a healthy space.
12) Speak with other moms about their experience
Ending your maternity leave and returning to work can make you feel like you’re the only person who thinks these thoughts. But the truth is that many others have gone through what you’re experiencing. Talk to them. Ask them what it was like for them to go back to work. Ask them about how they stayed connected with their baby or about the support they got at work.
If they’re supportive and helpful, they may be able to give you advice and bolster your confidence in your adjustment. Sometimes just having that compassion can mean the world.
13) Enjoy every moment of your maternity leave that’s left.
Maternity leave, especially in the US, is a relatively short time. Most parents here only get 4-6 weeks of leave, and the lucky ones might get 12 weeks. It’s not a system that’s designed to set new moms up for success: it’s a system designed for productivity within the oppressive patriarchy we live in.
But whatever you get, try to really embrace each moment you get with your baby. They say that time flies, and it’s very accurate. Blink, and they’ll be ready for kindergarten. Try to imprint your mind with how their tiny body feels when they’re in your arms.
Returning to work after maternity leave as a working mom can be one of the most challenging transitions of your life as a parent. But keep yourself in a healthy frame of mind with these thirteen tips and, if you need to, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Are you returning to work soon? How are you feeling about leaving your baby with childcare?
How’s your mental health holding up?
Drop me a comment below.