Helping Employees Come Back From Maternity Leave

Helping Employees Come Back From Maternity Leave J.Mittenzwey

If your little bundle of joy has left you with a big bundle of nerves about returning to work after maternity leave, Hilary Pearl of the Harvard Business Review says you’re not alone. “Returning to work after maternity leave can be one of the most fraught, challenging and stressful times in a woman’s life,” she says.

Here are some of Pearl’s tips for easing the transition out of the nursery and back to the office:

  • Get support: Pearl suggests seeking out friends, advocates, mentors or a counselor to get the support and kindness necessary to make the transition as smooth as possible. She says a particular source of comfort can be other women who have already been through the adjustment. And inform yourself about typical postpartum emotions, “so you don’t feel that your reactions are abnormal,” explains Pearl.
  • Prepare for difficult conversations: If you think there will be a coworker or boss who isn’t supportive of you and the time off taken to have a child, think about how you will communicate with those people in advance of going back to work. “Maintain your composure and professionalism, and plan to use positive, solution-seeking language that doesn’t imply criticism or appear accusatory,” says Pearl.
  • Be good to yourself: Although time is limited, take enough of it for yourself, she suggests, whether through fitness, meditation and definitely with sleep. It’s OK to hire a babysitter when you need a break, or ask more of your partner or community upon a return to work, she says.
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