The Biggest Anxieties New Moms Face When Returning to Work

And What They Did To Overcome.

Photo Credit: Stock Snap

For new moms, the idea of returning to work can elicit a variety of emotions. Some may experience fear, anxiety, excitement, hope or dread. Not only did they just experience a huge life change roughly 12 weeks ago, but they are about to experience a second life change by returning to work as a mom. Questions about child care, breastfeeding, losing the baby weight, and remembering how to do their job may all feel like unknowns and can be scary. This article will attempt to normalize the anxiety new moms face when approaching the end of their maternity leave and also let women know that they are not alone in their experience. I reached out to some amazing friends and colleagues who have gone through the transition of returning to work after having a baby and they were willing to share a lot! Through our conversations, I discovered a few common themes.

Experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions as you approach the end of your maternity leave is normal

The emotions these moms felt that as they ended their maternity leave all seemed to touch on two major themes: guilt and anxiety. Moms feel guilt for putting their baby in daycare, or leaving them with a family member. Nicole Cole, Wellness Program Manager for Optum, says,

“The worst feeling is the guilt that you feel. Whether you are dropping your baby off at a daycare or whether you are fortunate enough to have family watch him or her or maybe a nanny, it’s still not you watching your baby and it breaks your heart.”

Moms are worried about losing the connection they developed with their newborn in the first 3 months of their life. Diane Norlander, Digital Marketing Manager, admitted,

“I felt guilty and horribly sad. Carter was still young and I felt like no one was going to help him learn and grow like I had been and could. For the first month back in the office I contemplated quitting every day.”

For some moms, they are now in a position to laugh at some of the anxiety they felt. Karen Borsetti, Global Head of Business Leadership at LinkedIn, revealed,

“I had two totally irrational moments on my first day back that speak to the rawness of leaving your children after months of coziness together: 1) A wave of panic rolled over me that our new nanny had kidnapped our children and would never return, 2) After walking out of a meeting I dramatically stopped as I thought I had left my baby in the corner of the conference room sleeping in her stroller. Looking back now, I laugh, but in the moment it was all panic and mommy-instinct.”

There are ways to overcome this anxiety

As much as these tough emotions may take time to go away for new moms, there are strategies to cope with the anxiety. The moms who were most successful in handling the transition of returning to work had a plan. Yoga teacher and personal trainer, Bree Gwinner, shared,

“My biggest fear was that my daughter would starve while I was away. My strategy? Meditation. Calming my mind and knowing that she was nourished helped keep my anxiety down.”

Other moms used strategies such as eating whole foods and being sure to schedule in physical activity, even if just for a short window. Amanda Methot, a Director of Marketing for Regency Mortgage, explained,

“Working moms juggle so much it feels almost like we have two full time jobs, you can’t forget to take care of yourself! If you aren’t taking care of yourself your job performance and home life can suffer.”

Still others found that if going back to work was inevitable, they were going to be sure to give it their full effort as a way to be a positive role model for their children. Won Yung Choi, Ph.D., a Neuroscientist and 3-D Scientific Software Evangelist, made this a priority:

“I wanted to do my job well as I have a daughter and I wanted her to know that it was possible for a woman to be anything and do everything she sets her sight on.”
Photo Credit: Unsplash

You are not alone in your experience

One of the best ways women can be supported in the workplace during this transition is to band together. Share your stories, share your strategies and open up. Despite the challenges the women I talked to faced, they all had positive words to share with new moms who are about to face this same transition. Nicole Cole said,

“I believe the biggest misconception about working moms is that someone else is ‘raising your kids’. That is absolutely untrue. Working mothers absolutely raise their kids; they just have a little help and there is nothing wrong with that.”

Building a support system of other moms who know what you are going through is crucial to the success of the transition. Won Yung Choi found this to be important:

“I leaned a lot on other working moms for friendship, inspiration and support…Being a dedicated mom and a successful career woman are not mutually exclusive.”

And if you are not a new mom and are reading this, one of the best ways you can support your co-worker or friend is to understand that the new mom in your life has changed and she may need patience. Bree Gwinner put it well,

“One of the biggest misunderstandings of today’s culture — expecting that new moms have got it all figured out within a 2 to 4 month span and expecting them to perform the same as their coworkers, when in reality they are still healing physically and emotionally from their pregnancy, labor, and birth.”

What are you tips for being a successful working mom? Leave them in the comments or Tweet me! Let’s keep the conversation going and help all working moms feel less alone during this difficult and sometimes, isolating, time.