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Maternal Mental Health and Return to Work for New Moms

Maternal Mental Health

Every May, Maternal Mental Health Day raises awareness about the mental well-being of mothers during and after pregnancy, aiming to break the stigma surrounding maternal mental health. It highlights the importance of prioritizing their mental well-being. During pregnancy, many women experience the ‘baby blues,’ showing symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, and anxiety. Additionally, around 20% of new mothers exhibit signs of postpartum disorders, which include emotions like anger, guilt, and disinterest in their baby. Moreover, many mothers return to work within three months after giving birth, adding another layer of challenge as they adjust to their new normal. Let’s delve into details to understand what you can do and how you and your employer can make this transition easier for you.
Transitioning back to work for new moms

A recent study highlighted that returning to the workplace after childbirth presents significant challenges for many women. The findings reveal that over a quarter of new moms reported their health as “fair” or “poor” during the first month back at work. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, nearly 60% of working mothers report experiencing significant stress related to the transition back to work after maternity leave. Additionally, research by the Center for Work-Life Policy found that 43% of women voluntarily leave their jobs or opt for reduced hours following the birth of a child due to difficulties balancing work and family responsibilities.

Statistics Speak Volumes

The statistics surrounding maternal mental health and the transition back to work highlights the magnitude of what mother’s face. Here are few statistics:

  1. A survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that 42% of working mothers cite the need to provide for their family financially as a significant source of stress, which can be heightened when returning to work after childbirth.
  2. Research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company reveals that 43% of women with children leave their careers or take extended breaks, often due to workplace environments that lack support for working mothers.
  3. According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, approximately 15-20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression, a condition that can be exacerbated by the stressors associated with returning to work.
  4. A survey conducted by Working Mother Media found that 60% of working mothers feel that they don’t have enough time for themselves, while 53% report feeling guilty about not spending enough time with their children.
  5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only 25% of mothers exclusively breastfeed for the recommended six months, with returning to work often cited as a barrier to breastfeeding continuation.

Hurdles which women face in the MENA Region

1. According to the World Bank, the labor force participation rate for women in the MENA region is among the lowest globally, averaging around 21.2% in 2020. This low participation rate can be attributed to various factors, including cultural norms, legal barriers, and lack of access to education and employment opportunities.

  1. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report indicates that the gender wage gap in the MENA region is one of the widest in the world, with women earning significantly less than men for similar work. In some countries in the region, the gender wage gap is estimated to be as high as 40%.
  2. Women in the MENA region often face legal and social barriers that hinder their ability to fully participate in the workforce. These barriers can include discriminatory laws and practices, limited access to childcare and maternity leave, and cultural expectations regarding women’s roles and responsibilities.
  3. Maternity leave policies vary across countries in the MENA region, with some countries offering generous maternity leave benefits while others provide minimal or no paid leave. Access to maternity leave and support upon returning to work can significantly impact women’s ability to balance work and family responsibilities.
  4. Despite the challenges, there is a growing trend of women entrepreneurship in the MENA region, with women-owned businesses contributing to economic growth and innovation. However, women entrepreneurs often face obstacles such as limited access to finance, markets, and networks.How employers can make the transition easy 1. Peer Mentorship Program: Pair returning moms with experienced working moms within the organization who can serve as mentors and provide guidance and support during the transition back to work. Peer mentors can offer valuable insights, advice, and encouragement based on their own experiences.
  5. Flexible Return-to-Work Plan: Develop a customizable return-to-work plan for each returning mom, allowing them to gradually ease back into their full workload over a specified period. This flexible approach accommodates individual needs and ensures a smoother transition back to full-time work.
  6. Wellness Reintegration Program: Offer a wellness reintegration program focused on holistic well-being, including sessions on stress management, mindfulness, nutrition, and physical activity. Providing resources and support for mental, emotional, and physical health empowers new moms to prioritize self-care as they transition back to work.
  7. Family-Friendly Workplace Initiatives: Implement family-friendly workplace initiatives, such as on-site childcare services, parent support groups, and family-friendly events or activities. Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment for working parents demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and work-life balance.
  8. Flexible Working Spaces: Designate flexible working spaces within the office that cater to the needs of new moms, such as quiet breastfeeding rooms, comfortable nursing stations, and designated areas for pumping breast milk. Providing dedicated spaces for breastfeeding and pumping ensures privacy and comfort for returning moms.
  9. Supportive Maternity Leave Policies: Implementing supportive maternity leave policies that provide adequate time off and job protection for new mothers ensures they have the time they need to recover from childbirth and bond with their newborn. Clear communication about maternity leave benefits and policies helps new moms feel supported and valued by their employer.
  10. Childcare Assistance: Offering childcare assistance or resources, such as on-site daycare facilities, childcare subsidies, or referrals to reputable childcare providers, helps alleviate the stress and financial burden of arranging childcare for new moms returning to work. Access to reliable childcare options gives new moms peace of mind knowing their child is well-cared for while they’re at work.

An insight from mamahood

At Mamahood, we understand the unique challenges that new moms face when transitioning back to work. Our dedicated team of health advisors is always on hand within the app to provide personalized guidance and support. Whether you have questions about managing stress, coping with feelings of guilt or anxiety, or simply need someone to talk to, our health advisors are here to listen and offer expert advice. Furthermore, our community forum also provides a supportive space for moms to connect with each other, share experiences, and seek guidance from fellow moms who understand the journey firsthand. With Mamahood by your side, you’re not alone in navigating the transition back to work. We’re here to support you, empower you, and help you thrive both professionally and personally.



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