We Need to Talk About What Happens When New Moms Return to Work

I’m a nurse, a lactation consultant, a cofounder of a parenting resource center, and — as of this month—the head of perinatal operations at Spright. For my entire career I’ve worked with expecting women and new moms, providing the highest quality education and resources. In recent years, I’ve seen one trend that helped drive my decision to join the Spright team:

While some companies are talking more about pregnancy and leave, there is very little conversation and understanding about how to make the return to the workplace work for everyone.

There are many reasons for how, when, and why you return to work as a new mom, and it’s never an easy decision. But let’s agree on this: it’s in the best interest of both families and business to retain top talent. Top talent — both men and women — are frequently parents or people who may want to become parents, especially if they see a tenable path for doing so. The way toward this is to have an open discussion about parents in the workplace and how to better support women who want to return to work. Now, we need to figure out how to have that conversation.

I’m on a mission to empower women to continue their post-natal education, no matter their career decisions.

Because:

Thinking about your baby’s development doesn’t end when leave does. There’s still so much to know after the first (six weeks, three months, six months — really, no matter how long leave is, that need doesn’t stop). Traditionally, parents might try to squeeze in classes in the evenings on weekends — but that’s, frankly, a lot to ask. Schedules are demanding, travel is a bigger part of work than ever before, and the simple reality is that this continued learning — about development, feeding, playtime — needs to happen in a new, flexible setting. That’s where Spright comes in.

Breast pumps are a step, but they’re only part of the equation. In the past year, I started to work with companies to provide medical grade breast pumps in their mother’s lounges. Medical grade pumps are more effective, more comfortable, and more durable, and each one serves multiple women (who then won’t have to pay for multiple personal pumps or lug medical equipment on their daily commutes). Providing pumps shows support for moms who are trying to continue providing breastmilk to their babies even when they’re apart, and the benefits of that (to moms, babies, and companies!) are great. But it’s still only one step to support a portion of the population; there’s even more we can do to support everyone.

It’s about more than gifts, time, or even money (though money is nice). Recently, Netflix, Facebook, and more have gotten good press for their generous parental leave policies. We absolutely need more of this! But regardless of the length of leave, the question of support upon return remains. There is data showing that women are more productive employees when they return from leave — they have at least one new body to manage, often more with childcare needs. Workplaces should welcome the fact that you are a new parent, rather than hiding it or expecting you to be the same person you were before.

Parenting changes you. We need to embrace that, not ignore it.

We want to start this conversation with you.

Are you back to work, planning on it, or struggling with the decision of whether to return? Spright has solutions for you — and for your company. If you’re not a Spright user yet, get the app here. And if you work in HR, or you can connect us with someone who does, here’s a taste of we can do for companies. Want to know more? Reach out. This is a vital conversation, and we’re here to push it forward.