Childbirth is exciting but it is also hard on a mother’s body and takes time to recover from. Most OBGYNs recommend a new mother wait at least six weeks before returning to regular activity, including returning to work. There are several things to consider when deciding to return to work after the birth of a baby, including a mother’s recovery after childbirth, how well established the breastfeeding relationship is and whether the mother wants more time to bond with her new baby. Financial concerns are always an issue if a workplace does not provide paid maternity leave.
How Long Does It Take to Recover after Childbirth?
The first few days after childbirth can be painful for a new mother, especially if she has had an episiotomy or any tearing. Exhaustion, from sleep deprivation and restoring energy that was lost during labor and delivery, is common during the first few weeks after childbirth. Overdoing it after giving birth can cause excessive bleeding or infection in a new mother and in some cases put her back in the hospital. It is very important to follow doctors’ recommendations and use the first few weeks after childbirth to recover and bond with your new baby. Most doctors approve new mothers to return to normal activity after six weeks.
Returning to Work Too Early
Returning to work too early after childbirth can cause extreme exhaustion in a new mother as well as increase the risk for postpartum depression. New mothers need time to bond with their new babies. Returning to work too early can cause problems with immediate bonding and establishing a breastfeeding relationship. Many women who return to work quickly choose to formula feed their babies because the breastfeeding relationship was never firmly established.
When Should a New Mom Return to Work?
Most obstetricians recommend a new mom wait at least six weeks after giving birth to return to work, but many advise waiting 12 weeks. Most partpartum bleeding will have ended six weeks after delivery, and tearing or stitches should have healed by that point. Many new moms find it much easier to return to work after their bodies have healed from childbirth since using the restroom without a peri bottle before that point can be painful.
Options for Returning to Work
Many employers will allow a new mother to return to work part time for the first few months as she makes the adjustment to life as a working mother. This can allow a new mother to work fewer hours during the first few months of her baby’s life when she is likely getting very little sleep. Some employers may allow a part-time work-at-home option for mothers with a newborn at home. If this is not a standard policy in your workplace, do not be afraid to ask if it would be a possibility.
Affording Maternity Leave
Financial concerns play a large role in determining when a new mother returns to work after childbirth. Many expectant mothers worry how they are going to afford to take a maternity leave. Some employees offer paid maternity leave but they are harder and harder to find. Women who have been with their companies for a long time may have built up vacation and sick days that they can use during their maternity leaves. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees a woman at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave without risk of losing her job if she has worked for a company with at least 50 employees for at least a year.