Returning to Work after Maternity Leave: Overcome Overwhelm with These 5 Tips


Transitioning back to work after maternity leave can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for many new mothers. The thought of balancing your career demands with the responsibilities of caring for a newborn can leave you feeling anxious and stressed. However, with the right preparation and support, you can make this transition smoother and less overwhelming.

In this blog post, I explore five practical ways to ease the stress and regain control of your work-life balance as you return to the workplace after maternity leave.

Tip 1: Establish Your Work-Life Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries between your work and personal life is crucial to maintaining a healthy balance as you return to the workplace. Establishing these boundaries can help you stay organized, reduce stress, and ensure you have enough time for both your family and career. Here are a few ways you can set effective work-life boundaries:

– Discuss your schedule and expectations with your employer and coworkers. Be clear about when you are available for work and when you need personal time for family obligations.

– Set specific work hours and stick to them. Commit to a daily routine and avoid working extra hours unless absolutely necessary.

– Create a separate workspace at home if you are working remotely. This will help you mentally separate your work life from your home life.

– Be aware of your limits and learn to say “no” when necessary. Avoid taking on too many tasks or commitments that will drain your energy and prevent you from balancing motherhood and your job effectively.

Tip 2: Find Reliable Childcare

A dependable childcare solution is essential for new mothers returning to the workplace. Knowing that your child is in safe and capable hands can help reduce anxiety and allow you to focus on your job. Here are some tips for selecting the right childcare option:

– Start your search early. Give yourself enough time to research and select the most suitable childcare provider for your family.

– Assess your needs and budget to determine whether a nanny, daycare, or family member is the right choice for your circumstances.

– Ask for recommendations from other parents, family members, and friends.

– Schedule interviews and ask potential caregivers detailed questions about their experience, qualifications, philosophy, and availability. Conduct thorough background checks on all candidates.

– Communicate openly with your chosen childcare provider to ensure they understand your child’s unique needs and preferences.

Tip 3: Prepare Mentally and Emotionally

Mentally and emotionally preparing yourself for the transition back to work is essential for your overall well-being. Accepting that you might experience a range of emotions during this period can help you cope more effectively. Consider these strategies to mentally and emotionally prepare for your return to work:

– Reflect on your emotions and concerns. Acknowledge your feelings of anxiety, guilt, or sadness, and remind yourself that these emotions are normal and valid.

– Communicate with your partner, friends, or family members about your concerns and feelings. Sharing your thoughts and experiences can provide relief and a helpful different perspective.

– Try to focus on the benefits of returning to work, such as personal growth, financial stability, and social interactions.

– Develop healthy coping mechanisms, like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or yoga, to help manage stress and anxiety as you ease back into the workplace.

Tip 4: Prioritize Self-Care

As a new mother juggling family and career demands, it’s easy to neglect your own well-being. Prioritizing self-care is essential to avoid burnout and foster a better balance between your personal and professional life. Implement the following self-care tips to keep yourself healthy and energized:

– Get enough sleep and rest to allow your body to recover and maintain focus.

– Eat balanced and nutritious meals to provide the energy you need throughout the day. Simplify meal planning by using meal-prep services for some nights, a mix of store bought and freshly cooked food or batch cook.

– Schedule regular breaks during your workday to recharge and refocus.

– Make time for activities or hobbies you enjoy to maintain a sense of balance and reduce stress.

– Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family members who can provide encouragement and reassurance as you navigate your new routine.

Tip 5: Reach Out to a Therapist Who Specializes in Working with New Moms

Seeking support from a maternal mental health therapist can be invaluable when coping with the overwhelming emotions and adjustment of returning to work after maternity leave. Professionals who specialize in working with new mothers can help you navigate this challenging time by providing strategies and coping mechanisms tailored to your specific needs. Here are some benefits of working with a specialized therapist:

– Develop customized coping strategies to manage stress, anxiety, and guilt associated with returning to work.

– Explore feelings of identity and self-worth as you adjust to your new role both as a parent and a working professional.

– Receive guidance on managing work-life balance, improving communication with your partner, and setting realistic expectations for yourself.

– Develop a support system to help you navigate the challenges of motherhood and career growth.

– Gain a better understanding of your emotional and mental needs and learn how to prioritize your well-being during this transition.


Returning to work after maternity leave can feel overwhelming, but by establishing boundaries, finding reliable childcare, preparing mentally and emotionally, prioritizing self-care, work as a team with your partner and seeking support from a specialized therapist, the transition can become a manageable experience. Each of these tips can contribute to a better work-life balance and help you feel less overwhelmed as you embark on the next stage of your professional and personal journey. Remember, you are not alone in this process, and with the right strategies and therapy, either individually, or with your partner, you can successfully navigate the challenges of returning to work after maternity leave.

Dr. Sarah Allen

Dr. Sarah Allen has 25+ years of experience helping women to transition to being the mom they want to be. She is also the Director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of IL, a non-profit she started 20 years ago that offers information & support to pregnant & postpartum women and their families. She has also published research on postpartum depression and traumatic childbirth and presented at conferences.

If you would like to work with Sarah, please phone her at 847 791-7722 or on the form below.

If you would like to read more about me and my areas of specialty,  please visit Dr. Sarah Allen Bio. Dr. Allen’s professional license only allows her to work with clients who live in IL & FL & the UK and unfortunately does not allow her to give personalized advice via email to people who are not her clients. 

    What Can I Read That Helps Me While I Am Waiting For My First Appointment With Sarah?

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    Warm & Knowledgeable.

    I highly recommend Dr. Allen! She is warm and so easy to talk to. She has lots of knowledge about women’s health.

    Kathryn Gardner, LCSW

    Excellent Therapist!

    Dr. Allen is a colleague of mine and she is an excellent therapist. She is warm, caring, and exceptional at her work. I refer clients to Dr. Allen and I highly recommend her if you are looking for a top notch therapist.

    Jodi Petchenik, LCSW

    Sarah Transformed Our Family’s Sleep and Sanity

    My baby didn’t sleep. She wouldn’t sleep more than a couple of hours at night and no more than 30 minutes during the day. I was completely overwhelmed and my husband and I were at each other’s throats. I was supposed to be going back to work but was barely functioning. Sarah helped us to learn how to get our baby sleeping and then she supported me in my transition back to work. She also helped my husband and I navigate how to share childcare and running the house fairly. She is a very knowledgeable therapist and has really helped us.

    Pam. L.

    Dr. Allen Helped Me to Feel More Empowered

    Dr. Allen has really helped me find my own voice. When I began therapy I would swing between being passive and doing whatever other people wanted me to do to being angry and frustrated. I have been on antidepressants for quite a few years but it wasn’t really working. Through therapy I have learned to listen to my own needs and to speak up. I used to worry that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t agree with them but when Dr. Allen gave me the support I needed I challenged my fears. I spend a lot less time feeling angry and depressed now and I have really widened my social network. This is how I have always wanted to be but didn’t know how to get there. Dr. Allen has a very reassuring manner and makes you challenge yourself but by using small steps so you feel ready to do it. I have really come out of my shell and would recommend anyone who is feeling depressed to come and talk with her.

    Rebecca F.

    Trusted & Knowledgeable Therapist.

    When I need to refer any of my patients for talk therapy I immediately think of Dr. Allen as she is wonderful at helping people with severe and complex issues really get to the root of their problems. She is very caring and knowledgeable and I have found her extensive experience really helps people to change their lives for the better.

    Dr. Teresa Poprawski

    Dr. Allen is an expert in treating perinatal mood disorders.

    I refer as many patients as I can to Dr. Allen. She is an expert in treating perinatal mood disorders, and a well-trained and experienced therapist who is committed to working with her clients to develop a treatment plan designed for each individual. She exhibits genuine warmth, kindness and compassion for each of her clients. Dr. Allen has been a colleague of mine for more than 20 years, and I have great confidence when I refer patients to her.

    Leslie Lowell Stoutenburg

    I become empowered and a happier person.

    I began seeing Dr. Allen when my first child was around a year old. I had experienced a very traumatic birth, after a difficult pregnancy where I was on bed rest for a good portion of the time. The first year of my son’s life was spent worrying constantly. I also experienced flashbacks to the birth, which was an emergency C-section under general anesthesia. My son was in the NICU for several days following his birth, and I was not given very much information as to why. I remember thinking that he would die, or that something awful was going to happen.

    I experienced a great deal of anxiety that first year, and I thought that it was due to being a new mom. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating as normal, and I remember being worried about leaving the house or taking my baby with me anywhere. I worried constantly about illness, germs, etc.

    The first day that I saw Dr. Allen, she gave me some questionnaires to fill out before we started talking. Then we sat down and talked about my experiences with my son’s birth and the early days of his life, and the year or so since then. I remember to this day the relief that I felt when she looked at me and said that I had PPD and PTSD, which was a result of the trauma I experienced during and immediately after the birth of my son. She explained how my brain had reacted to the stress of these events, and related it to why I was feeling the way that I felt. It made so much sense. Then, she described ways that I could get over the trauma, work through the feelings, and recover from PTSD and PPD. I felt so empowered, and so happy that the way I felt had a name, and that it was treatable. It also made me feel so validated in the ways that I had felt and reacted following my son’s birth. I wasn’t going crazy. My reaction was normal and natural. And with the help of Dr. Allen, and the type of therapy that she uses, I knew I could recover.

    It is over five years since that first visit with Dr. Allen, and I still use the tools that she taught me today to deal with stress. I credit her with helping me to become a more empowered, happier person.


    Overcoming PPD with Dr. Sarah’s Support

    When I had my first baby I had what I now know was postpartum depression but I didn’t get any help. It did go away after about 18mths but it was a miserable way to begin motherhood.  When I was pregnant with my second child I started to become depressed again and this time told my OB/GYN how I was feeling and she referred me to Sarah. By starting to deal with how I felt and change the way I was handling the stresses in my life, I was in a much better place when my baby was born. The second time round my PPD was much less severe and didn’t last as long. 

    Sarah was also really helpful in teaching me ways to make the transition of becoming a big sister easier for my oldest one too.   My husband came with me for some sessions and that really helped our relationship and we started working on parenting issues together.  Sarah’s counsel and support really helped our family transition to the good place we are all in today.

    Sarah C.

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