New mothers worry about colleagues seeing them differently on return to work, survey finds

Many mothers were concerned that physical and mental problems brought on by childbirth could make them seem unprofessional 

Gemma Francis
Tuesday 22 December 2020 15:28 GMT
Many mothers polled said they found going back to work harder than expected 
Many mothers polled said they found going back to work harder than expected  (Getty Images)

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New mums have revealed their top worries about returning to work. These include having to take time off to look after a sick child, the cost of care and that colleagues will see them in a different light.

Other concerns include dealing with company changes after an average of 10 months away and coping with the physical effects of becoming a mum in the workplace.

However, being able to earn again, have ‘adult’ conversations and having a reminder of their pre-baby life were positives to come from rejoining the workforce.

A poll of 1,000 mothers who have gone back to work after having a baby found 31 per cent found it harder than they expected.

As a result, new mums take nearly six months to readjust after going back to work - with nearly a quarter saying the workplace is "completely different".

Just under one in five felt their boss and colleagues didn’t understand what they had been through  both mentally and physically.

And one in seven felt patronised by their male and female colleagues as they learned to juggle work and parenting.

The study by incontinence product brand TENA also revealed one in five women had broken down in tears after just a few days back at work.

Lisa Myers, from TENA, said: “Returning to work after having a baby can be a huge adjustment for many women.

Ms Myres added: “Regardless of how much you loved your job, or how good you were at it before you had a baby, during that time away, however long or short your maternity leave was, your whole life has changed."

Broadcaster Anna Whitehouse and comedian Athena Kugblenu, have spoken about their experiences and the challenges of being working mums in a video.

The study also found that while 27 per cent of new mums felt excited at the prospect of returning to work, 52 per cent were worried and 37 per cent went as far as to say they were dreading it.

Many worried the effects of medical issues brought on by pregnancy and childbirth made them look unprofessional and only 22 per cent were open with their colleagues about them. 

Of those who kept it to themselves, 53 per cent did so out of embarrassment while 55 per cent didn’t want others to think they weren’t up to the job, according to the study carried out via OnePoll.

A quarter of those who suffered long term physical or mental effects of pregnancy and childbirth said it affected their career, with 32 per cent also feeling like their colleagues or boss treated them differently as a result of their issues.

Ms Myers went on to say: “The working landscape has changed considerably over the last few months – especially for those who are based in offices.

“And there are many who believe the rise of working from home will benefit those mums returning from maternity leave – especially if they are also dealing with the physical or mental effects of having a baby.”


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