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Going back to work

Most mothers go back to work at some point. About half do so before their children start school. It may help to talk to other working mothers. But also try to decide what’s right for you and your family.

You’ll need to think about the following.

  • Feeding – if your baby is still breastfeeding, try to get him or her used to taking milk from a bottle or cup before you return to work. If you need help with combining work and feeding, discuss it with your health visitor, the National Childbirth Trust, La Lèche League, or the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers. You can express milk to leave for feeds. It’s also possible to give your baby formula milk in the middle of the day and still breastfeed the rest of the time.
  • Childcare arrangements – must be as simple as possible to work smoothly. If they don’t work smoothly, there’s a lot of strain. You also have to be reasonably sure they’ll go on working over time.
  • Paying for childcare – can you afford to pay for childcare out of what you earn? Can you find work that you can do while your partner is at home? Can you fit work into school hours? Can a relation help out? Is there any subsidised childcare in your area?
  • Housework – when and who’ll do it? If you have a partner you need to talk about how you’ll divide responsibilities for housework and childcare.
  • Making time for your child – even the best childcare isn’t a substitute for a parent. Children need to know that they’re special. If you work long hours during the week, can you or your partner keep your weekends completely free? If you don’t see your child in the day, can you keep him or her up late in the evening and compensate with long daytime sleeps? You may be able to work flexi-time, part-time, or a four-day week, and make a special time to be with your child.

We are indebted to Health Promotion England for their help in compiling this section.