The journey into parenthood is one of the biggest transitions of life, especially for a working woman. While many women look forward to motherhood, it is nothing short of a rollercoaster of emotions and challenges. However, with proper planning, a proactive approach, emotional awareness and professionalism, there is no reason why a woman has to give up her career once she bears a child.

Here are some tips to ensure a new mother can integrate back into her work environment seamlessly and pick up right where she left off.

1. Have a proper handover plan

The first step towards a smooth reintegration is proper planning before maternity leave. Have a handover plan in place, detailing which of your key accounts and responsibilities are to be distributed among which people, and what knowledge and skills are needed to be transferred.

During your maternity break itself, plan regular communications with your colleagues so you can keep abreast with any work developments. With some knowledge of what has been going on in your absence, the return to work will be a much smoother one, both work-wise and also socially.

2. Organise regular meetings

Reintegrating Into Your Workplace After Maternity Leave

When you’re finally back at work, plan regular meetings with your team and managers to catch up on the ongoing projects and timelines. A weekly meeting with your boss during the first month will help iron out the kinks and raise any issues.

Your proactivity is also a professional move that your manager will most probably appreciate. Set your objectives as soon as you return and use these meetings to discuss them, along with your career path.

The first week in which you return to work is a crucial one. Do not be afraid to ask for help to relinquish your doubts and get back on the same page as everyone else.

3. Opt for a phased return to work

Where possible, request for a ‘phased’ return to work. This allows you to ease into the work schedule whilst still being able to tend to the needs of your newborn. This usually means working for fewer hours or days during your initial return, with a gradual build-up to your original full business hours.

If your employer is not as flexible, you can try to negotiate to use up your accrued leaves during this period. This not only helps to your rebuild confidence in the workplace but also allows you to strike a proper balance between family and work life. If you work in a more relaxed and flexible environment, like a start-up, you can even try to request to work from home in your first week or so.

4. Know your rights

Legally, you have the right to return to the exact same role and position you were working in before your absence. If your organisation makes significant changes to your role during your leave, analyse the alternative role in detail and assess the circumstances.

However, if your employer refuses to revert your position and job scope, be aware of your legal rights and seek help if you believe you have been unfairly discriminated against and dismissed.

5. Select your childcare thoughtfully

Reintegrating Into Your Workplace After Maternity Leave

Choosing the right childcare is a major concern for most working parents. Flexibility, availability and costs can vary quite dramatically across Singapore. Depending on the area, you may have to pay anywhere between S$300 and S$2,000.

Do your research and assess the needs of your child and how you would like your child to be raised in his/her formative years. Some childcare centres provide basic Lego and educational toys, while others introduce modern technology and equipment to your child. Some childcare centres even provide basic preschool education. The most important thing is that you have to be satisfied that the centre should assure you of the safety and well-being of your young one, the hours you are away at work.

6. Stock up on the essentials

Last but not the least, it is extremely crucial that you have all the essentials in place before you return to work. You’re back in the world right after a huge transition, and things will be easier and definitely less embarrassing if you are prepared. Here’s a short but useful list: a breast pump to pump and store your breast milk; nursing pads in case meetings run late and you are unable to pump out the excess flow; healthy snacks to eat at regular intervals; and a decent and functional tote that will carry all of the above.

Reintegrating Into Your Workplace After Maternity Leave

Having both feet in two different worlds can be quite a daunting affair for a new mother, especially in the corporate setting where not only the work but social pressure to perform is high.

Don’t be too afraid to take it at your own pace and find the right balance between work and family, with the support of your spouse and colleagues of course! We live in the 21st Century and there is no reason why motherhood should impede you from achieving excellence in your professional careers.

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