How to cope with returning to work after a baby

It’s vital to have a support network

Figure out what you want independent of what is happening at any given moment in your workplace.

Figure out what you want independent of what is happening at any given moment in your workplace.

 

Returning to work following maternity leave can be one of the most fraught, challenging and stressful times in a woman’s life. Here are some ways to cope. After having a child, successful women often keep their struggles private in difficult re-entry situations at work. This may be because they don’t want others to view them as weak; because they don’t feel like they have a confidant they can trust; or it may simply be that they don’t want to open a Pandora’s box of emotional pain by talking about it.

Here are some effective approaches to deal with the difficulties of returning to work:

1:Postpartum emotions

Be well-informed about typical postpartum emotions, so you don’t feel that your reactions are abnormal or that there is something defective or inadequate about you. Try to be open to your feelings and to experience their full range, which will make you less likely to fixate on any given issue or challenge.

2: What you want

Figure out what you want independent of what is happening at any given moment in your workplace. If you make the decision to work full-timeit should be because that’s what you’ve decided to do, not because you feel that you need to compete for key assignments or responsibilities. Similarly, if you decide to leave that job (or the workforce), it should be because that’s what you want long-term, not because your current situation feels untenable.

3: Share stories

Get the support and kindness you need, whether that be from a few trusted friends, internal or external advocates or mentors, or a counsellor. In particular, women who have already been through it will be glad to share their stories and lessons learned.

4: Build your stamina

Find even small ways to build your executive stamina through fitness, meditation, nutrition, hydration and getting as much sleep and sunlight as you can.

5: Be prepared

Prepare in advance for difficult conversations, whether with your boss or with a workplace rival. Maintain your composure and professionalism, and plan to use positive, solution-seeking language that doesn’t imply criticism or appear accusatory.
Copyright Harvard Business Review 2014