Back to work after maternity leave

Back to work after maternity leave

Going back to work after maternity leave is never easy, but as Kelly Felton tells us, everything falls into a place after a while.

Well I’ve lived to tell the tale… (just about). I can look back now with a clearer head and a more rational mind than when it all began.  After 15 months, 14 of which were spent with the little man, I returned to work on 5th January 2015, working for someone else, which I hadn’t done in four years!

My son Josh had taken to his settle-in time in crèche very well, but a few days before his first full three-day week, we ended up at the doctor. He started on his first antibiotic and was a very poorly baba that day. Little sleep, fevers, aches and pains continued, but luckily the day I started work he was with my mum as he will be every Tuesday.

Reality sets in

Then on the Wednesday it was his first full day in crèche – they were brilliant at keeping in touch, but it was a very different story from the week before, with his illness he was very out of sorts and when I arrived a little early to collect him he was completely bunched.

The next day after a little more sleep, he seemed a little better but what was to come was far worse than the sleepless nights – complete rejection of mama. He was generally a lot crankier than normal, but it was more than that and shocked both my husband and I. I was devastated. Maybe it’s part and parcel, but so much within only the first week seemed quite unfair. It had been a hard enough decision to return to the workforce and it now seemed that all my fears had come true.

The weekend fared a little better, still broken sleep, still slight rejection and still a lingering bit of sickness. Not the Josh of old, but we had our fingers crossed for the week to come. I was hopeful that things would get better – the Josh rejection was the worst feeling in the world and I almost felt my confidence in my abilities draining away as a mother, pandering to him just so he came to me, which is something I would never normally do!

Good support

We felt blessed with the crèche we chose, we had a few things to tweak with them but all and all they were super. I am lucky to have an understanding, familiar workplace and a supportive husband and mother.

As the weeks went on, I thought things were becoming a little easier (with a few bumps still in the road). Overall, I was enjoying work, being out, interacting, using my brain and now having my own money.

It can only get better

Unfortunately, those first several weeks brought sickness throughout the house, which made the sleepless nights and future outlook seem impossible. I questioned whether we had done the right thing, but I know something had to change and I think the choices we’ve made long-term are the right ones. I also know I am enjoying getting some independence back and that’s not something I want to let go of now, but when Josh and our family were suffering as a consequence, that made me feel selfish.

I also know my husband was wise leading us down this path because financially while we could ‘get by’ that didn’t bode well for the future and that’s not the life we want for Josh.

There is no denying it had been another tough month but things were to get a little better. As we started into the third month, things definitely started to settle down. The sickness was a distant memory and he started sleeping the night and for short spells in crèche too.

Our routine was finally bedding down and I got to grips with my role in work, which helped with the adjustment too. We treated ourselves to a few special treats along the way, which eased the burden somewhat, but ultimately the happiness of Josh and my family is what makes it all easier.

Check out Kelly’s blog

More like this:

Returning to work – ask the expert
Breastfeeding and work
Working through pregnancy

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.