When should you go back to work after your maternity leave?
This really depends on your state of physical and emotional health after delivery, as well as the health of your newborn.
If you are feeling well, and your baby is adjusting fine, then it is up to you whether you want to return to work earlier or wait until the full duration of the maternity leave is up.
One thing is for sure. Having spent a blissful three or four months with your newborn, readjusting to working life with the additional responsibilities of a mum, will take some time.
Here are some ways to ease the transition back to work:
1. Stay in touch
Being on maternity leave doesn’t mean you cut yourself off from work altogether. Staying in touch with your colleagues throughout your absence from office will help you be on top of any changes at the workplace – such as management reshuffles, new policy changes or even office gossip. By being informed, you will fit in a lot faster
2. Arrange for childcare
If you are lucky enough to have grandparents or family members look after your baby, have the caregiver try taking care of the baby even before you go back to work.
Going through a “trial session” would help alleviate any uneasiness about leaving your baby in someone else’s care, so when the time comes for you to return to work, you know that your child is in good hands while you are away at work.
Similarly, if you decide to put your baby in the care of an infant or child care centre, it helps to start looking around for a suitable centre during your maternity leave. Give yourself enough time to shortlist and select a centre that you are comfortable with.
3. Discuss your return with your boss
Now that you have added responsibilities as a mum, it would be good to meet with your boss before you officially return to work. Issues like flexi-work arrangements and childcare leave will need to be sorted out.
If you decide to take the last eight weeks of your maternity leave over one year, as permitted under the current maternity leave policy in Singapore, then you need to discuss how you intend to “stagger” your leave – would you be working part-time some days of the week or do you intend to take one day off per week?
Take the opportunity to also talk about the projects you will be doing after you return to work. If there are projects that may interfere with your role as a mum, eg. projects that require travelling, you may want to ask for an adjustment of your job scope.
4. Share responsibilities
Now that both you and your husband will be going back to work, you need to discuss how to re-allocate household chores and childcare responsibilities. Who will be doing the laundry? Who will be responsible for buying the groceries? Will you or your husband be taking turns to pick up and fetch your child from the caregiver?
5. Decide on breast milk or formula
Will you continue breastfeeding your baby or will you be switching your baby to milk formula instead? If you decide to use a breast pump to supply your baby with milk using a bottle, you need to practise using the pump before returning to work. Then make sure that both you and baby are adjusted to the new way of feeding him or her.