depressed about going back to work after maternity leave

Depressed About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave? 7 Simple Strategies to Regain Your Confidence

Going back to work after maternity leave can be a challenging and emotional experience. It’s not uncommon for you to feel a mix of emotions, including anxiety, sadness, and sometimes even feeling depressed. Your mental health plays a significant role during this transition period, and it’s essential to acknowledge and address these feelings.

You’re not alone; in fact, a 2020 survey found that 31% of new mothers found it harder than they expected to return to their job after an average of ten months’ maternity leave. Transitioning from the warm cocoon of caring for your new baby back into the working world can stir up a mix of emotions.

It’s crucial to recognize these feelings and implement self-care strategies to help you adjust to this new phase of life.

In order to help yourself navigate this challenging time, it’s essential to know that it’s normal to feel anxious or depressed about going back to work after maternity leave. If these feelings persist or become overwhelming, talking to a mental health professional, seeking help from your employer, and making use of available resources can help you maintain your mental health while adjusting to life back in the workplace.

Depressed About Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave – Understanding Your Emotions

Common Emotions

As you return to work after maternity leave, it’s normal to experience a range of emotions. Many new moms feel overwhelming anxiety or guilt about leaving their baby or ending their breastfeeding journey and entering a new routine.

Hormonal fluctuations and lack of sleep can also contribute to emotional instability during this challenging time. Here are a few common emotions you may experience:

  • Anxiety: Feeling worried about balancing work and home life, or concern over your baby’s care while you’re at work.

  • Guilt: Many new moms feel guilty for going back to work and not being able to spend every moment with their babies.

  • Sadness: It’s normal to miss your baby and feel sad about returning to work after maternity leave.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a more serious mental health concern that some new moms face after giving birth. It’s important to recognize the signs of PPD and seek help when needed. Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Difficulty bonding with your baby

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Changes in appetite or weight


While the “ post-baby blues ” may be a common emotion for new moms, one in seven women will experience postpartum depression on a clinical level. If you suspect you may be experiencing postpartum depression, it’s essential to speak with a healthcare professional.

Proper support and treatment can help improve your physical and mental health and allow you to better handle the transition back to work.

Concerns and Challenges

As a working mom, you may experience feelings of depression and overwhelm as you navigate the transition from maternity leave to work life.

  • Baby Adjustment: Worrying about how your baby will react to the change of your return to work can be a common concern. Will they miss you? Will they be able to cope without your constant presence? Help your baby adjust by allowing your partner or other caregiver more time with your baby.

  • Continuing to Breastfeed: If you choose to continue breastfeeding after returning to work, it’s essential to plan how to maintain your milk supply and find a balance between work and breastfeeding. Utilizing your lunch breaks or other designated pumping times can allow you to express milk and maintain your successful breastfeeding journey.

  • Navigating Pumping at Work: Finding a suitable space and time for pumping during your workday can be challenging. Communicate with your employer and colleagues about your needs, explore dedicated lactation rooms or private areas, and establish a routine to ensure regular pumping sessions. Remember, many workplaces are supportive of breastfeeding mothers and provide accommodations to help them continue breastfeeding.

  • Peer Pressure and Expectations: Society often places expectations on mothers to effortlessly manage their careers and family life. This external pressure can intensify the feeling of depression and self-doubt and make it harder to feel confident about your choices. Remember that every mother’s journey is unique, and it’s essential to set realistic expectations for yourself based on your own circumstances and values.

Check out my recommendations for the best wearable breast pumps (including the pump I recommend for working moms) and the best smart breast pumps. Plus my post Breastfeeding vs Exclusive Pumping: Which is Right for You? may help you feel more confident about decision-making when considering pumping breast milk for your baby.

Strategies to Ease the Transition

1. Open Communication

Talk openly with your employer and colleagues about your concerns and needs. It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself as both a parent and an employee. Building a supportive work environment can make a significant difference.

Discuss your work schedule if you feel the need for flexibility to balance your new role as a mom and maintain your mental health. Your employer may offer solutions and accommodations that can help ease your transition back into the workforce.

2. Keep Your Priorities in Check

As a new mom, it’s normal to feel tired and have mixed emotions about going back to work after maternity leave. Focus on spending quality time with your baby while also managing work commitments effectively. This might require reevaluating your daily routine or organizing your work schedule to accommodate your new role as a mother.

One suggestion may be to delegate some household chores or share them with your partner. This will help you reduce stress and free up more time to be with your baby.

Additionally, consider being proactive and prepare things ahead of time like prepping bags for daycare and work or setting up a clear work-hour schedule, so you can manage both life without feeling guilty or overwhelmed.

3. Seek Support from Other Moms

Connect with other moms who have experienced similar challenges. Joining support groups or reaching out to fellow working moms during lunch breaks can provide valuable insights and a sense of solidarity. Share your experiences and emotions with those who have been in your shoes and can offer valuable insight or advice.

You may find local working mom’ groups, online forums, or social media groups where you can connect with like-minded working parents too.

4. Rely on Your Family

Your family plays a crucial role in providing emotional support during your transition back to work after maternity leave. Keep them involved, share your concerns, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Your partner, parents, and even close friends can offer assistance, such as taking care of the baby, running errands, or simply lending an ear to listen.

By leaning on your support network, you can make your return to work smoother and less stressful, while maintaining your mental well-being.

5. Start Preparing Early

During the last few weeks of your leave, begin to anticipate what your new life as a working parent will look like. While you may be sleep deprived and dealing with a lot of adjustments, it’s essential to plan ahead.

Consider involving family members or close friends who can provide support, especially during the first few weeks back at your new schedule of work.

6. Establish a New Routine

Your time during maternity leave has been focused on bonding with your baby and establishing their routine. As you return to work, you’ll need to create a new routine that incorporates your work and personal life.

Start small, focusing on the first week back. Establish a new morning routine together with your baby that allows for an efficient start to your day. Keep in mind that it may take some time but after a couple of months, you’ll feel more confident and at ease.

Some suggestions for creating a new routine include:

  • Packing lunches and selecting outfits the night before

  • Syncing your calendar with your partner or support person

  • Creating a meal plan and grocery shopping schedule

  • Outsourcing some tasks, like laundry or housecleaning

7. Prioritize Self Care

As a new parent, it’s important to prioritize self care as you return to work after maternity leave. While it’s easy for new parents and working moms to feel guilty about taking time for yourself, remember that a well-rested and cared for parent is better equipped to care for their child.

Try some of these tips:

  • Scheduling time for exercise, hobbies, or relaxation

  • Establishing a consistent sleep schedule

  • Seeking professional help if you’re experiencing mood changes or depression

  • Opening up to friends and coworkers about your feelings and experiences

Remember, your well-being is important for your entire family. By focusing on yourself, you will be more emotionally, mentally, and physically prepared to handle the challenges that come with balancing work and parenthood.

Child Care Considerations

When preparing to go back to work after maternity leave, one of the most important things to consider is finding the right child care for your new baby.

Selecting a Child Care Provider

To make sure your new baby is in good hands, invest time and effort into finding the perfect child care provider. Start your search early, as good child care options can fill up quickly. Keep the following tips for trustworthy childcare, in mind:

  • Research: Look for child care providers with excellent reputations, positive reviews, and strong recommendations from other parents.

  • Visit: Schedule a tour to get a feel for the environment and observe the staff’s interaction with the children.

  • Ask questions: Inquire about the provider’s experience, qualifications, child-to-staff ratio, and their policies on discipline, hygiene, and safety.

  • Trust your instincts: Ultimately, choose a childcare provider that makes you feel comfortable and confident in their ability to care for your baby.

Backup Child Care Plan

It’s always a good idea to have a backup child care plan in place, in case your primary childcare provider is unavailable or there’s an unexpected change in your schedule. Create a list of reliable backup options, which may include:

  • Family and friends: Ask close relatives or friends if they’d be willing to help in a pinch. Make sure they’re comfortable caring for your baby and familiar with your child’s routine.

  • Neighbor: Check if a trustworthy neighbor is available to provide backup care if needed.

  • Flexible child care centers: Some child care centers offer “drop-in” services on an as-needed basis. Research local options and check their availability and pricing.

By considering these factors when selecting a child care provider and creating a backup plan, you’ll ensure that your baby is well-cared for as you return to work after maternity leave, making the transition process easier and smoother for both you and your little one.

Work Environment Adjustments

Flexible Hours

Managing the transition back to work after maternity leave can be challenging, but you can ease this process by discussing flexible hours with your employer.

Working moms benefit from having the option to adjust their schedules to accommodate both their professional and personal responsibilities. Having control over your working hours allows you to prioritize your physical and mental health, and stay present in both work and family life.

Set Boundaries and Expectations

As you transition back into the workplace, it’s important to set boundaries and expectations with your colleagues and supervisors about workload and availability. Communicate openly about your needs as a working mom, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.

Make it clear when you’re off-limits during non-working hours, so you can fully dedicate that time to your family members and yourself. Establishing these boundaries early on sets a great example for others and allows you to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Creating a Private Space

Returning to work after maternity leave can evoke anxiety and emotional challenges, which is why it’s essential to create a private space at work where you can regroup and take care of personal matters, such as pumping or addressing postpartum depression.

Not only does a private space provide a safe and comfortable environment, but it also helps you maintain boundaries between your work and home life, allowing you some quiet time to recharge and refocus when needed.

Juggling Multiple Children

  • If you have older children in addition to your newborn, adjusting to the needs of multiple children can add complexity to your return-to-work move. Involve your older children in the process, delegate age-appropriate responsibilities, and establish a supportive network that can assist you in managing the demands of parenting multiple children while maintaining your job.

  • New motherhood, especially when you have two children, requires effective time management skills. Prioritize and delegate tasks, establish routines, and embrace the concept of taking care of yourself. Remember that taking care of yourself enables you to better care for your children and meet the demands of your job.


Try to be patient with yourself as you adjust to becoming a working mom. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and even depressed about going back to work after maternity leave. Remember that you are not alone in experiencing these emotions.

It’s important to find the balance that works for you and continually adapt as needed. This way, you can experience the joys of motherhood while navigating the challenges of returning to work.

With time, patience, and self-compassion, you can find a balance that allows you to thrive as a working mother and enjoy the precious moments of new motherhood.

Still feeling super stressed about going back to work? Have a read of my post 27 Business Ideas For Stay-at-Home Moms: Quick & Easy Startups for a bit of inspo for alternatives!

Final Thoughts

I remember so well the emotional rollercoaster when my maternity leave finished. I was facing shift work, trying to get back into my uniform (with my post-partum body!), the worry about leaving my baby, the stress of wondering if my breastmilk would continue to be produced, and of course, the concern that I would have forgotten how to do anything at work!

But, truthfully I found that I needed the time to just be me, not mom, for some hours of the week. It truly made me more ‘present’ with my baby when I was at home and work was so busy that it really distracted me from missing my baby. Knowing she was safe at home with my partner was crucial.

For me, maintaining my career while balancing being a mom has had its ups and downs but with a bit of planning, flexibility, and trying not to worry too much you will soon settle into this new chapter of your life!


Questions? I Have Answers.

Talk about your feelings with your partner, friends, or a mental health professional. Create a flexible work schedule if possible. Arrange quality childcare, and gradually get your child accustomed to the new routine.

Yes, it can be for some people due to separation anxiety, changes in daily routines, and guilt. However, each person’s emotional response can vary widely.

Recognize that guilt is a common feeling. Remind yourself of the reasons you’re working and the benefits it provides for your family. Connect with other working parents for support. Be present and make the most out of your time with your child when you’re not at work.

There’s no definitive “best” age as it depends on individual circumstances, such as financial needs, career demands, and family dynamics. However, some research suggests waiting at least 6 months may have benefits for both mother and child.

Generated with Pin Generator

Similar Posts