Return to work tips to ensure success.

Posted: Wednesday March 16 2022

By: Abbie Coleman

Returning to work after maternity leave can hold a range of emotions from excitement through to dread at the thought of leaving your baby before you are ready. One thing I can say is that while there may be some common themes, not every woman feels the same way about her return nor should they.

Return to work tips

We recently ran a survey of over 1k maternity returners on their thoughts, feelings and support they were offered from receiving their return date at the end of maternity leave through to the first day, first week onwards upon returning to work. There still seems to be a long way to support maternity returners. So we want to give you our return to work tips to help you navigate your return:

What matters to you on your maternity return is an important thing

Know what is important to you. Take some time to sit down and look at your personal and career priorities. Has the way you feel changed as a first time new parents with a new baby? Do you have new priorities now at the end of your maternity leave? Are you returning to a role and company you are happy with, would you like to request flexible working, do you want to go back part-time or full time, are you looking to ramp up your career goals or change career direction or reduce your hours? Once your goals are clear, you know you are on track to success as you work towards something that works for you, which is always a good idea for success. Don’t feel pressured by family members, friends or work to aim for something that doesn’t align with your core goals.

First things first how you can achieve this

So, you have worked out your priorities; how do you achieve this new routine along with being new mothers? When returning to work, ensuring that you have the right childcare provider if you don’t have a family member who can assist is essential and the best thing you can do if you’re heading back full time. Your role includes long hours, then maybe a traditional nursery wouldn’t be suitable. A childminder or nanny would be a better cost-effective childcare solution, especially if you have more than one child. Maybe you wish to cut back your hours in which casework out your finances the website the salary calculator can be an excellent way to work out your salary when looking at pro-rata quickly and monthly income. Once you know what is important to you and what you need to achieve this, you need to speak with work. Looking for support on finding a childcare solution, read more about settling your child into a nursery or finding a nanny.


You have worked through what you want and need for your career plan, don’t be afraid to do the same with your family; let them know how they can support you in achieving what you want to achieve. Speaking with your partner is essential and often not done as you assume who will be happy doing what. If you are in a partnership, you must talk about your goals and ambitions, including how you both achieve these. Ensuring you have a conversation around expectations does not lie solely on your shoulders. It is vital for you to feel fulfilled at home and work and emotional support. Something as simple as sorting out household chores, pickups, backup childcare plan is key to knowing the expectations of both parents for a smooth transition back into the working world. If you are a single parent, ensuring you support family members or friends is critical to feeling supported.

*Should you find with your mental health you are feeling down or low or experience darker thoughts during this emotional time, please reach out to a GP immediately to ensure you are not experiencing postpartum depression.

Talking to work about your return

The key to this, apart from being a great employer, is to remember you have your ideal plan but that this is a starting point to work with your employer to find a solution that fits you both, so flexibility is key for you as well as your employer. Remember that this plan is fluid and a work in progress, and what may suit you with a 6-month-old may not still work for you with a 4-year-old. Once you have a clear idea of your return to work plan, you will be ready to sit down with work or your HR department to look for a solution, including putting in a flexible working request or requesting flexible hours within your hours of work. If you feel after this meeting that the response or solution offered is too far away from what you are looking for, make sure you are aware of your legal rights when requesting flexible working or indeed for your return and conditions of employment when it comes to your employer’s actions. You may be offered a different job or what your employer deems is a suitable alternative job. If this isn’t what you are looking for, make sure you are aware of your legal right in this situation.

Worried About Breastfeeding

You may be looking to breastfeed your baby and have a breast pump to express milk at work and have concerns about if there is a private room. Will you have enough time to do this in your lunch break or in breaks? Please read our detailed article about breastfeeding at work here, where Katie Ash answers all your questions about breastfeeding at work.

Build Your network

Once your back, you may find some of your networks have moved on, or indeed you need to reconnect and rebuild your network. Not only can this help you in business, but it also connects you to what has happened and is happening in the current marketplace. Once you have a great network that you invest in, you will find this is your wealth of information, contacts and resource.

Be kind to yourself on returning to work.

You may be feeling at your most vulnerable right now, and self-doubt may start to creep along with that feeling that nothing seems to be going right; how can you do this? How can this work with your baby’s schedule and sleep deprivation? Be kind to yourself; remember your achievements and your capability while you’re undergoing this transformation. These feelings will pass once you find your feet and schedule what works for you. Reports have suggested it can take up to 9 months for a returner to feel settled back into their company. Don’t beat yourself up; you’re probably doing a lot better than you give yourself credit for.

Ask for support if it is not given.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support, including from your employer or human resources department. Maybe ask for a mentor internally or externally to help keep you on track and push you to achieve; it can be an excellent asset for any working professional. If your employer doesn’t run an in house returner programme, why not suggest the MMB Returner programme to them and read about how we can support you through 8 sessions.

And finally, if it isn’t working.

Maybe you have returned to work after maternity leave, and deep down, something for you has changed. You don’t feel as fulfilled, you’re not as passionate about what you’re you’re doing as you were before, or your current employer or role just isn’t working, or worst case, you are facing a employment tribunal. Maybe you have decided that you need more time at home than expected. Don’t be afraid to take a step away and assess what makes you happy and fulfilled, as no matter what career or employer you’re with, if your career ambitions and plans are not aligned, no place will feel like the right place. Don’t force yourself to go down a route that isn’t for you due to others expectations. The only feeling that is right is your feeling, so make sure you work to achieve what’s right for you, do this, and achieve success at work and home. We would always say work with your employer to gain that middle ground. Ultimately if that is too far away, don’t be scared to look elsewhere. You are a talented, driven professional who has the same experience and ability to bring to work that you did before your baby or children. Don’t let others expectations of new mothers define your career.

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