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Beating the “back to work” blues after maternity leave

*A collaborative post 

There are a whole lot of emotional elephant traps out there for new mums, and whether you are a first-timer or have been through it all before, they can still trip you up. The moment when maternity leave comes to an end is one that is particularly apt to sneak up and assault your emotional barometer in unexpected ways.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Perhaps part of the reason is that is it a sign that the big event of having a new baby is now at an end. It’s a case of “as you were, everyone, back to normal, just with one extra person in the world, nothing to see here.” That in itself can come as something of an emotional shock. And then, of course, there is the idea of somehow “going back” to being pre-Mummy you, a particularly weird concept for first-time mums.

As a company that operates in the healthcare sector, one that has a higher than average proportion of workers who are female and in their 20s, 30s and 40s, Cygnet Jobs is a company that knows all about the back-to-work blues. They have identified the following emotions that you are likely to encounter and how best to deal with them.

Fear and Anxiety

As the end of the leave period looms into view, feelings of fear and anxiety are inevitable. These will attack from three angles:

  • How on earth are you going to leave your baby?
  • Will things be different at work?
  • How are you going to balance your job and motherhood?

It’s easy to say “stop worrying” but lots of mothers feel that the final precious weeks of maternity are tarnished by this nagging anxiety. It is vital to try and live in the present. Deal with work when the time comes, thousands do it and you’ll do it too, but in the meantime, cherish the time with your baby. And finally, remember – you got through childbirth, you can get through anything!

Anticipation and guilt

The above sounds perfectly natural. But what if you are actually looking forward to getting back to work? You probably think that makes you sound like some sort of callous monster, but here’s a newsflash – practically every back to work mum feels the same to a greater or lesser extent. Being a mum is an amazing, magical thing, but you are still you too. And if you have been career-focused, taking time out from work can leave you feeling a little adrift.

It’s ok to look forward to getting back into the work routine. Motherhood is an additional part to who you were before, it has not obliterated and changed you completely. Enjoy that fact, and in doing so, you are setting a great example to your son or daughter.

Depression

You might think that by the time maternity leave ends, the “depression zone” has been safely negotiated. The fact is that postnatal depression can strike at any point in the year after childbirth. The most important thing is not to try to cover it up. Reach out to your partner, your friends and your doctor. Depression is a medical condition like any other, and there is help out there, all you have to do is reach for it.

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