Returning to Work After Having a Baby

Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a press release regarding mothers’ return to work after having a baby. The end of maternal, and in some cases, paternal leave can be anxiety provoking. After all, for months prior, the caregivers’ focus was on the preparation for and care of a helpless human being. Caregivers’ main concern is whether this baby will be alright without them. However, with increasing understanding of the stressors associated with the return to work, there are resources that can aid the transition.

Children whose mothers return to work before their offspring turn 3 are no more likely to have academic or behavioral problems than kids whose mothers stay at home. – APA

The findings cited in the APA article were based on an analysis of 50 years of research. The studies looked at mothers who returned to work within 3 years of giving birth. The children most likely to benefit from their mother’s return to work were those of low socioeconomic status. The suggested reasons behind this finding is increased income to care for the kids, as well as providing them with a positive role model.

Children in middle- and upper-class families with two parents were slightly more likely to see decreases in achievement later on. In addition, slight increases in externalizing behaviors were evident later on if the mother went back to work full-time during the first year of the child’s life. – APA

While the latter findings may seem discouraging, the statistical significance was slight, meaning that they cannot be applied to the majority of children in those circumstances. The authors do, however, call for amendments to maternity leave policies (with comparisons made to European policies), in order to offset any adverse effects.

A child who is emotionally well adjusted, well loved, and well cared for will thrive regardless of whether the mother works outside the home. – American Academy of Pediatrics

Caregivers should recognize that their concerns are normal, and typical of most parents. In order to reduce their fears, they should ensure that the issues regarding returning to work are discussed with their partner, that they seek quality child care and that they transition back into the workforce at a pace suitable to their needs. Additional tips and resources are available when you Read More.

Read More: The Kids Are All Right: Few Negative Associations With Moms’ Return to Work Soon After Having Children

Breastfeeding: Return to Work

Parenting Corner Q&A: Working Mothers

Making Working Families Work

Image: Salvatore Vuono /



About Traci S. Williams-Nurse

Dr. Traci Williams-Nurse is a licensed psychologist who specialized in child, adolescent and family psychology. Her interests include child development, family functioning, video games and food. She was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
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2 Responses to Returning to Work After Having a Baby

  1. Ayanna says:

    I can identify with this article.

    I love my daughter but I also love my job.
    My daughter is in daycare and she is thriving! She started walking in the nursery. And when she comes home, she gets lots of love and attention from mommy and daddy.

  2. Awww that’s really sweet! Thanks for reading Ayanna.

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