Challenges for Expectant Parents’ Experience in the Workplace

By Sofie Jacobs

Welcoming a new baby into the world can be a wonderful experience for new parents. But adding a new little person to the family can also be stressful and demanding. Aside from the many responsibilities that come with being a new parent, there is also the issue of going back to work after the birth of a child. Returning to the workplace as a parent can come with some challenges.

Many parents feel uneasy or guilty about leaving their baby with a caregiver for the first time. Moreover, they may feel as though the time spent away from the workplace has left them out of touch with their jobs, causing them to worry about how they will be able to catch up.

Returning to the workplace after having a baby is a huge transition. Just know that you are not alone. You can also take comfort in knowing that there are some concrete things you can do overcome many of these challenges. Below, we will look at a few of the challenges faced by expectant parents and offer advice on managing these issues.

Preparing for work-life balance

It’s not easy being a working parent and trying to juggle between your job and family life. It can cause feelings of guilt and stress because of divided attention between work and family. This is why it’s important to get organized, focus on a plan, and find the right balance between your work life and parenthood.

Communication is key, chatting to your manager during pregnancy is a great way to plan together.  You can discuss aspects of keeping in touch whilst you are on your parental leave and how you would like to transition back to work and try to develop a work-life balance.

Even if the perfect work-life balance probably doesn’t exist, the key is to figure out what’s important to you and what works for your family. If more flexible working conditions are what you need, chat to your employer about this. There could be a few small changes you can try to improve your work-life balance. For instance, perhaps you can work from home occasionally or change up your working hours.

Advocate for your needs (and your baby’s)

Many new mamas feel overwhelmed and unsupported after having a baby, especially in the workplace. Parenthood is a unique experience and even if your colleagues and manager are parents themselves, they may not understand your individual experience.  Perhaps they offer advice that isn’t helpful or makes you feel overwhelmed, or simply don’t understand why you’re struggling with the transition between parenthood and returning to work. Perhaps your manager or team expects you to come back to work as though nothing has changed.

Keep in mind that it’s impossible for anyone to know what you’re going through unless you tell them. Ask for what you need and don’t assume that your manager and colleagues know what your needs are. You will be surprised at how much support people will give you and how much more understanding they will be if you simply ask for what you need or talk about your concerns.

If you need to slip out the office early for a doctor’s appointment, chat to your manager about it. If you need to postpone a meeting so you can make pickup time at daycare, chat to your manager about it and offer another solution. Be proactive, but always ask for what you need.

Managing breast pumps in the workplace

Some new mamas are concerned about whether they will be able to maintain breastfeeding after returning to work. Even if you have a supportive employer, you have to think about the aspects of pumping at work. The good news is that with a little planning and communication, expressing at work shouldn’t be a problem.

If you need to pump breast milk at work, mark off time on your calendar to do it. If you stick to a schedule and accept that it’s a non-negotiable task, you can avoid it becoming a point of stress. You may want to get a second pump to leave at work, so you don’t have to carry it back and forth. If your office doesn’t have a designated “lactation room” – ask them to organize a suitable space for you.

Having a support network is essential

Most new parents need a little extra support from family, friends, colleagues, and their manager. It’s important to have more than one person to go to for guidance or help. There are bound to be things about parenthood that you and your partner hadn’t anticipated and may feel clueless about. That is absolutely normal and in times like these, it’s important to ask for advice.

Moreover, it’s also important to have people who you can talk to about your stresses, challenges, and any concerns you may have. Even if they’re just a shoulder to lean on or serve to be good listeners – talking about your problems can be a great stress-reliever.

Some new parents struggle with mental health issues, like postnatal depression, anxiety and stress. You may need to seek professional help to deal with symptoms but having a support network is also a great way to help manage and recover.

For regular expert and peer support in navigating pregnancy, early parenthood and work, join the HATCH community now.

Photo by senivpetro / Freepik

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