Why new mums struggle at work: A guide to surviving the huge shift


After a long maternity leave, the thought of getting back to work seems daunting to many moms. Some say that the struggles they face at work while being a new mom can be them on the verge of breaking down. Why is working after labor leave so tough, and how can you reduce the hardship from it? Read on to find out!

Why is the transition so hard?

Emotionally difficult transition

After childbirth, you will go through a period of learning to be a mom. In this time span, you will learn to hold your child, how to feed, bathe and care for them. Breastfeeding is something entirely new to you. Moreover, you will experience many sleepless nights trying to soothe your crying baby.

On top of that, you will experience physical pain from childbirth. During the pregnancy, many changes happened to your body! Now that you are no longer carrying the baby, you might not even recognize yourself when you look into the mirror. Your clothes don’t fit, you don’t look the same or feel the same as you did before or during the pregnancy. Mentally, this can lead to a sense of loss of identity in new moms.

Then suddenly among all this new and strange things happening around you, you are thrust back into the working environment where you need to juggle stress, deadlines, long working hours all while relearning how to pump breast milk at work. These expectations can be too much for new moms and they will be overwhelmed and struggle to cope.

Hormones – “Baby brain”

Going back to work after a childbirth is notably challenging due to the changes in the hormone. The hormone changes can cause some problems with your memory and emotions. New moms can find themselves forgetting things or become very emotional from watching a TV show. This is called “Baby brain” – when the grey matter in your brain shrinks down from having a whole lot of hormone during your pregnancy. While the part of the brain related to memory shrinks, some other parts, such as one that connected to feelings and connection with your child, grow. This is nature’s way to prepare your bond with the baby.


Breastfeeding is hard enough when you are at the comfort of your own home. Now even at work, you still need to express milk or risk feeling engorged and horrible all day.

Between meetings and deadlines to catch up, you can barely squeeze in 15 mins for lunch. But you also need time to breast pump. So your only option is to eat and breast pump at the same time. The next question is where? If your office has a room for breast pumping that’s great, but if not, the only place where you can afford some privacy and not flash everyone in the office is the toilet. Now that just doesn’t sound appealing at all.

Separation anxiety 

The most difficult part of going back to work after childbirth is being separated from your baby. You spend a majority of time after delivery taking care of and bonding with your child. Going back to work means you will be away from your child and need to put them in the care of someone’s else. Moms often face separation anxiety from being away from the child and constantly worrying about them.

Juggling work and home 

After a long day stressing at work, as soon as you check out, you immediately think about what to have for dinner. You try to remember what is in the fridge and what to do with them so the family can have a healthy meal. When you get home, you dive into preparing dinner while juggling a baby on one hand. After dinner, instead of a good rest, you have the laundry take care of and the dishes to wash. It’s just too much!

Intrusive family members

Many grandparents like to meddle with the new parents’ life. They will constantly tell them what they should and should not do. With all the struggles mentioned above, the last thing you need is someone belittling everything you do.

Tips for the shift working mama

One day at a time

Instead of thinking about the long working hours ahead, try to take each working day as it comes and not to let it stress you out. Whatever deadlines or assignment you have will work out in the end and you will be OK.

Prioritize health

Many moms neglect their health because they are just so tired. When you get home from work, you jump right in taking care of your baby and tiring yourself out. At this point, a nap could seem much better than having to prepare yourself a meal. Remember to eat healthy, exercise and catch up on your sleep when you need. You are not neglecting your family if you are doing so to take care of yourself to get stronger.

Get a system in place

Whether you are at work or at home, having a good support system can bring a tremendous help for you. When you are away for work, having a family member or a close friend taking care of your child instead if you don’t feel that daycares don’t trust worthy.

At work, you can discuss with your employer to have an adjustment time to get used to the work load. During that time, having a coworker to help you out is great too.

Writing notes

If you have trouble remembering things, write more to do lists and reminders, be it on your calendar or on your phone. Writing things down can help you memorize them and keep track of the progress of each task at hand.

Please don’t beat yourself up about missing out sometimes

If you need to cry, let it out, but understand that your children will someday recognize the sacrifices you made for them. Know that when your children look at you, they see you as a super woman and they couldn’t be more proud to call you Mom. How do I know this? My mom worked shift work too!

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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