Making It Work: A New Mom's Guide to Returning to the Office

Paula James-Martinez

Making It Work: A New Mom's Guide to Returning to the Office

Returning to the workforce after welcoming a new addition to the family is a pivotal moment for all parents.

Mothers often have the additional complications of birth recovery, breastfeeding, depletion, body and identity changes to grapple with alongside the sleep deprivation. Returning to work is much more to process than just turning up to the office again or logging into that first Zoom call. It's a huge undertaking that society does not prepare us for.

Flexible Working

Talking about Zoom, one of the first considerations for new parents is exploring flexible work arrangements. Needed is a proudly remote-first company. The culture supports flexibility for parents to work from home and manage their calendars alongside their families' needs. Though all companies and types of work are set up differently, both in terms of culture and logistics, Needed isn’t alone in offering more options for mothers in the workplace.

In today's evolving work landscape, many offer options like remote work, adjusted hours, or a gradual return to full-time work. It’s really important to try and understand the types of accommodations your particular role and company can provide. Reach out to your company's HR department or manager as far ahead of time as possible so both sides can communicate their expectations and needs. As well as being empowered to ask for support, knowing what is policy or law in your particular circumstance. Chamber of Mothers and Moms First both offer great resources.


Another essential aspect to get ahead of as early as you can is childcare. Researching and planning for suitable childcare options is often not straightforward. Whether it's a daycare center, in-home childcare, nanny services, or family support, finding a solution that aligns with your needs and values is key, and it can take a lot of interviews, visits, and guidelines to find the right choice for your family. Feeling confident and comfortable with your chosen childcare arrangement is crucial for your peace of mind while at work. Discussing how you will manage any school holidays or your child's sickness with your partner is something you should also discuss. Because if being a parent has taught us anything, it's that even the best-laid plans can fall apart sometimes.

Your Right to Pump in Peace

For mothers who plan to continue breastfeeding, discussing your needs with your employer is essential. The PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”) is a new law that makes several important changes to the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, which has required since 2010 that employers nationwide provide reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for lactating employees to pump milk during the workday. Familiarizing yourself with your legal rights related to breastfeeding at work can also help ensure a supportive environment.

Thoughts and Feelings

It's normal to experience a range of emotions, from excitement to anxiety, as you return to work. Practicing self-compassion and seeking support from your partner, friends, or a mental health professional can help you navigate what is often a high-stress time for families. On the practical side of this, developing a realistic schedule that balances work commitments, childcare responsibilities, self-care, and quality time with your baby is essential. Prioritizing tasks, delegating when possible, and setting boundaries can help prevent burnout when you are feeling spread exceptionally thin.

Prioritize activities such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices. Remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish; it's necessary to be the best parent and employee you can be.

Building Your Village 

Building and using a support network of family, friends, colleagues, and fellow parents is invaluable. Sharing experiences, seeking advice, and offering support not only create a sense of community to share the ups and downs with but also allow you a little space and backup support to prioritize your own needs.

Returning to work postpartum isn't easy and requires careful planning, self-awareness, and support. But by considering these key factors ahead of time and taking proactive steps, you can navigate this transition with confidence and create more of a healthy balance between your professional and personal life.

To try to make sure no mother feels alone Needed has introduced our 'Postpartum Guide,' a comprehensive and continuously expanding resource designed to support you with shared experiences and expert insights, covering all your postpartum needs. Because a lack of support, should never be normal. 

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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a creative producer, filmmaker, and former fashion editor. She is the director and producer of film company Semi-Retired Productions, and in 2018, started working on her directorial debut on the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternity in America. She has since founded a non-profit organization The Mother Lovers to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis.