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How Soon Can I Go Back To Work After Having a Baby?

Going back to work after having a baby is challenging and a controversial topic. Often yourself and others can make you feel guilty for wanting to go back and even guilty for not wanting to go back. For others, it is financial reasons that some mothers may have to go back to work and some before they feel ready.

It is important to remember there is no right or wrong answer to going back to work after having a baby. You have to weigh up your options and choose what is right for you and your family. Unfortunately, as we mentioned above, it is not always that straightforward a choice for some with financial and family care responsibilities.

Both returning to work straight away full time and easing back into work slowly have their benefits in different areas.

This blog will look at when to go back to work after having a baby and tips on how to go back to work after a baby. As well as looking at the term known as “mum guilt” by feeling guilty for leaving your baby. However, you are only leaving your baby to provide for them the best that you can. All while also looking into not wanting to go back to work after having a baby.

Remember, whatever option you choose is the right option for you.

When to go back to work after having a baby?

As mentioned above, there is no correct or incorrect way or time frame to go back to work after having a baby. There are many different opinions on when and how to go back to work. However, it is important to remember that as it is yourself that will be dealing with the experience it is completely down to when you feel ready.

Legally, the first two weeks after the babies are born are known as compulsory maternity leave that employers must provide. However, if you work within a factory you will not be allowed to return until after 4 weeks then after that it is up to you. We discuss this in more detail later.

Going back to work slowly over time

For many going back to work part-time and with flexible hours at first is the best option.

This allows you to have more time with learning how to balance your work life and new home life together. How to adjust to your new life changes and responsibilities and manage your mental health at the same time.

We have a whole other blog on Maternal Mental Health if you would like to take a further read to have a greater understanding click here. (Maternal Mental Health)

Going back to full-time work after having a baby

Just like going back slowly overtime going back straight to full time has its benefits too.

When returning to work after having a baby it is important to keep yourself as mentally healthy as possible. The best way to make sure you are as possible is by having health boundaries when back at work to help prevent mental exhaustion. We have a blog covering health boundaries if you would like further knowledge on the topic. (How To Set Boundaries and Keep A Positive Mental Health)


“Mum guilt”

The term mum guilt is referred to when a mother feels guilt in doing anything that may benefit her baby but also take time away from them. Or any kind of guilt really, we often find as mums especially new mums we become over critical on ourselves.

It is so important to try and be kind to ourselves. The best that we can always try our best to remember is that we are not perfect, we are all humans. As well as always trying to remember a happier, relaxed and refreshed mum means a much happier baby.

Returning to work soon after having a baby does not make anyone an absent mum or mean you are putting work above your child nor does it mean you are away from the baby too much. Waiting a while to return to work does not mean you are lazy and not thinking of your child's future. You have just had an eventful experience of having a baby so go easy on yourself.

When feeling overwhelmed with mum's guilt, just try to take some time to yourself. Doing something you enjoy, even if that is something by yourself. Taking time to yourself is always okay. Even if you are a mum! Talk to friends or family or even work colleagues about how you are feeling it is always good to be open with those around you. This allows you to feel as if you have opened up and take the weight of your feelings off you a little and allows those around you to understand how you might be feeling and possibly have more consideration towards you.

How to cope with going back to work after having a baby

No matter when or how you choose to go back to work it will be difficult and each comes with its own challenges.. All that you can do is follow tips and be open about how you are feeling to make it easier for yourself. We are all aware that life can be extremely uncertain at times. However, if we try our best to plan our schedule as much as we can and communicate with work colleagues what we want. Making it easier for us as we are aware of what is going on and how to tackle events as much as possible.

When returning back to work we may even feel out of place, as if we have been away too long and missed out on too much or the ongoing structure of work. It is important with going back to work not to be shy about what you would like from your employer, within reason. Do not be shy or feel out of place to ask for flexible hours to meet your and your baby's needs.


Tips on going back to work after having a baby:

  • Ask for flexibility

  • Have a backup childcare plan

  • Get into a routine

  • Reach out to others

  • Make time for yourself

  • Expect and allow all feelings

  • Stay present

  • Be gentle with yourself

  • Don't make your first day back on the first day your child has a new childminder if in childcare


I don't want to go back to work after having a baby

The whole process of having a baby as well as being pregnant itself can be overwhelming. Also, the statistics of women who suffer from postnatal depression are at an all-time high due to new mothers feeling too much guilt to take alone time after having a baby.

Understandable that mothers feel this way, however it is so important! We cover postnatal depression and even depression during pregnancy in our previous blog if you would like to take a read. (Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression)

After having a baby and watching your body change enormously over the past 9 months there is nothing wrong with not wanting to go back to work.. Wanting to take that time and opportunity to bond with the baby is fine. Wanting to spend time getting yourself feeling back to where you were before is fine too. Taking time out after the life-changing experience of having a baby is fine!

When figuring out what you want it is always important to be open and honest with what you want. Communicate with your partner, family and your employer if you currently do not want to go back to work. You might even want a completely different employment path and that is okay too. Allow yourself the time and space you need to make any decision you may need to allow yourself to be in the best space mentally not only for your baby but for yourself.

How to go back to work after having a baby

As previously mentioned, there is no correct or incorrect way to go back to work. Following the tips provided above should help the transition back into work as it can be daunting.

No matter what you do when going back to work you may feel you have made the wrong choice. No matter what your reasoning for going back to work, try to approach going back to work with a positive mindset.

The night before your first shift back try to set aside some self-care time just to mentally unwind and mentally prepare. Try to remember that yes, even though you are a mother, you are also still your own person. There is so much more to you than just a mum in or out of work.

Signs that being back at work might be too much

While knowing how to help if things become too difficult it is also important to be able to recognize the signs of when you are starting to struggle, as ignoring them for too long will only make things worse.

Things to look out for:

  • If you are beginning to feel mentally exhausted.

  • If you are building resentment towards work colleagues.

  • If you are becoming more easily frustrated with everything and everyone around you.

  • If you feel resentment towards your baby.

    • Yes, this does happen and it really is nothing to be ashamed of as there are ways to go about helping deal with it.

If you are feeling any of these or even just feel in yourself you shouldn’t be working yet, you should always talk about it. You have not failed if you feel you have tried and are not able to do it so do not have to feel ashamed.

Maternity leave

The first two weeks after the babies are born are known as compulsory maternity leave that employers must provide. However, if you work within a factory, you will not be allowed to return until after 4 weeks then after that it is up to you.

The full amount of maternity leave that can be taken is 52 weeks, this starts before the baby and carries on through until after 2 or 4 weeks if you wish. This is broken down into two different sections. The first 26 weeks are called ordinary maternity leave (OML) and the second 26 weeks are called additional maternity leave (AML).

However, if you plan on returning back to your employment before the full 52 weeks, it is recommended to give your employer 8 weeks' notice.

When returning to work after OML you have the right to return back into the job role you were doing before you left for maternity leave. After returning to work from AML, you are entitled to return to the same job, but if this is no longer reasonably practicable, you have the right to return to a different job that is suitable and appropriate for you.


If you feel you would like a better insight into the ongoing mental health problems, we do offer an online Mental Health First Aid course.

Provided by an instructor qualified under Mental Health First Aid England, allowing yourself to become a qualified Mental Health First Aider.

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I am a multi-award-winning women's healthcare advocate.


I am extremely passionate about women's healthcare and mental health.

Did you know that - You are more likely to meet someone about to attempt suicide than about to have a heart attack? Everyone should know what to do.


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