Welcoming a co-worker back from maternity leave – a guide

professional white woman returning from maternity leave

“Do you miss your baby?”

A co-worker said to me on my first day back to work from maternity leave. I was stunned and at a total loss of how to answer. Say no and I’m a cold-hearted bitch for not thinking about my offspring every second. Say yes and I risked appearing feeble and unsure of my return. Ughhhh!

I also remember my work bestie hugging me that same morning and giving me the sweetest gift of a mouse pad featuring a photo of my little guy that she snagged from Facebook. I still use it at work to this day, almost six years later.

The first few weeks back to work can be a mixture of emotions and every woman feels differently. Asinine comments from the people you often see more than your own family certainly don’t help to deal with a big change, so here’s a guide of things not to say as well as some suggestions to show that you’re supportive. Sadly, all of the “don’ts” below actually have been said out loud, either to friends or myself. DON’T BE THAT PERSON!

Words NEVER to say to a woman returning to work after having a baby:

  1. How was your vacation?
  2. I thought you were going to quit. Are you?
  3. Welcome back to the real world!
  4. Are you going to have more kids?
  5. I hope you’re breastfeeding!

Compassionate things to say:

  1. Welcome back! We missed you.
  2. Want to catch up over coffee?
  3. You look great!
  4. I think you’re doing a great job as a mom. How are you feeling?
  5. Can I drop off a meal for your family?

Recovering from childbirth (ouch) while caring for a brand new human who may or may not sleep for consecutive hours is a tough job. In many cases, your kid is still barely sleeping when it’s time to go back to work and your body still might feel like shit. So, please be kind.

Any additional advice to share?

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Christina Klenotic

Christina Klenotic believes that you can be nice and successful in your career (screw mean people). She also doesn’t believe in having more kids than arms since she’s frequently toting both of her toddlers around Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Or, biking with them both on her mamacycle (baby seat in the front, tandem in the back).

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Thanks for sharing that Christina. I certainly don’t ever want to be one of “those” people!

    While on the subject of tips for returning from maternaty leave, does anyone have tips for how to make returning to work sustainable for women? I have read that many women really want to continue their careers after having kids but find it really difficult and end up taking years off which so sadly often ends up equating to terminating their careers. Companies also are perplexed by the costs associated with marternity leave they must provide only to have women quit after returning to work. Everybody looses in this scenario. I recall there was an article written about this years ago in Working Mother Magazine. Since I never had kids I never looked into it. I thought this would be a good forum for this discussion.

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