Tips to make your post-maternity leave transition stress-free

Tips to make your post-maternity leave transition stress-free

Here are some tips from experts and mums for making the transition post-maternity leave stress-free.

You're pregnant

Once your pregnancy is confirmed - Prepare for your handover at work

You should have frank, regular discussions with your supervisor to minimise any misunderstanding about your work performance, explains Linda Teo, country manager at Manpowergroup Singapore.

When you begin the handover depends on the type of work you do, although the start of your third trimester (seventh month) is ideal.

"You will probably need more time if you are a team leader and overseeing major projects for the company," says Linda.

"Start identifying your next in line early and have a contingency plan in place, in case any complications arise during your pregnancy."

While it's your supervisor's duty to inform them about their additional responsibilities in your absence, it's your job to ensure that your colleagues have all the information they need to perform the work.

Give detailed instructions on a Word document to everyone, including your boss. If your team needs additional help, you may also want to hire temporary staff.

If you have subordinates reporting to you, inform them about the hierarchy when you are away and keep them posted on new developments.

"Remember that people leave bad bosses - you don't want to return from your maternity leave to an empty office," says Linda. "And don't forget to inform your vendors, clients and business associates about your leave."

6 months before Baby's arrival - Sort out your baby-care plan

Who will look after your newborn when your maternity leave is over? Have you checked if your parents or in-laws are willing to assist you? Can you trust your domestic helper to do the job?

If you intend to enrol your baby in an infant-care centre, start your hunt now as some places have a long wait list, reminds Elaine Kng, branch director ar Cherie Hearts Kids-At-Play.

Look out for good safety, health and hygiene practices in prospective centres, she adds. Ask about their staff-to-infant ratio - according to the Ministry of Social and Family Development's official ratio for babies up until 18 months, each caregiver mustn't handle more than five infants.

Before enrolling, observe the teachers at work and their interaction with their young charges. The babies should have a natural, warm response towards them, says Elaine.

The centre should also provide and encourage the use of a variety of learning materials toys and equipment to stimulate children's learning.

Baby's born!

8 weeks after - Introduce the bottle

By now, you're likely to have established a good breast-milk supply. While your newborn prefers to latch onto you, try to express your milk and offer it in a bottle now. You should also start freezing milk to build up a healthy supply for daytime feeds.

Marie Eber regrets not getting her first child used to drinking from the bottle before she returned to work.

"I had to take a week's leave to wean her off," recalls the 38-year-old corporate relations manager. Her daughters are now aged five and three."

"I was more prepared when I had my second child. I got her to take a bottle every day when she was two months old. A month before I went back to work, I increased it to two bottles daily."

12 weeks after - Manage your separation anxiety

With four more weeks to go before your maternity leave is up, try out your new routine, such as dropping off your newborn at the infant-care centre for a few hours instead of a full day.

If a nanny or maid will be caring for Baby at home, consider installing a monitoring service that lets you see what's going on at home.

"It will be very difficult for you to concentrate at work if you're constantly worrying about your baby," shares Linda from Manpowergroup.

You might like Singtel's Home Livecam, which works like a baby monitor. For a monthly fee, you can view your home activities from your iOS or Android phone and tablet, or via Singtel's portal.

Its secure system also prevents unauthorised access. Visit

If you plan to continue breastfeeding and you know your workplace does not have a nursing room, find out if there is a meeting room or private corner that you can use to express milk.

Azreen Noor, 36, communications manager and mum of three kids aged seven to 20 months, simply threw a nursing cover over herself and pumped at her desk. Practise and perfect this handy skill - now.

15 weeks after - Prepare your new look

Next week, you'll be back in the office. It's a good time to re-think your work wardrobe now, says personal stylist Julia Bank, who owns an image and brand consultancy.

If you're breastfeeding, you may have gone up a bra size or two, so you may want to wear slightly larger tops or wear a blazer to draw attention away from your bust.

If you still have a "mummy tummy", Julia suggests wearing more flattering bottoms, such as a tailored A-line skirt or low-waist wide-leg pants.

Accessories are a great way to jazz up a classic corporate outfit and give you a mood boost. So, look at your shoes, bags, scarves, and necklaces.


Get back into the "career woman" frame of mind. "You're probably full of mixed emotions - your hormones are all over the place and you may not feel like going back to work," says Alka Chandiramani, managing consultant at Alvo Connexions, a training and career coaching company.

She suggests writing down the pros and cons of being a work mum, and the adjustments you have to make.

Then, look at the list and remind yourself to be positive.

Back at work

Day 1 - Eat smart

You're going to need all the energy you can get to juggle family and work. If you want to feel vibrant, focused and alert, Sarah Cole, a senior fitness coach at Level gym, says to make sure you get enough iron, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin C and fibre.

"Go for food like avocado, spinach, celery, bell peppers, kidney beans, lean beef, eggs and salmon," she says.

Limit or eliminate sugar and processed food, which can make you feel sluggish, tired and bloated (turn to page 62 for expert recommendations on hawker fare).

1 week after - Stay connected with your day care helper

Have a frank discussion with your maid or babysitter if she can cope with your little one.

Or, at the infant care centre, communicate regularly with your baby's teachers, says Elaine from Cherie Hearts. A strong partnership is essential to your child's development.

3 weeks after - Discuss a flexible work arrangement

Discuss a flexible work arrangement with your boss if your little one is unwell and you have to be with her, suggests Linda from Manpowergroup.

Perhaps you can work from home two days that week, and assure that you can remain committed to your job.

"But, do keep in mind that your previous work performance before maternity leave plays a major role in determining whether or not you get the support you need," she explains.

Mother-of-two Marie requested a four-day work week for 1 ½ months after she returned from maternity leave. No thanks to fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation, she would end up sobbing at her desk.

"I wasn't prepared for how depressed I was going to feel," she recalls.

4 weeks after - ease yourself back into the grind

Perhaps your team is using a new computer system, or you're struggling to meet a tight deadline because your baby has been sick.

You may need time to get back into the groove, so if you need help from your colleagues or supervisor, don't be afraid to ask for it, says Linda.

And be appreciative. "Small gestures like buying snacks for the team will go a long way, especially when you need last-minute help," she adds.

And, yes, it's possible to leave the office on time and still deliver great work. Take it from experienced mum Azreen: "I missed each of my three children terribly when I had to return to work. But while I was at work, I made sure that I was fully focused on the job."


Her World, Singapore's #1 women's magazine, is now available in both print and digital formats. Log on to to subscribe!
This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.