The Challenges of Returning to Work After Maternity or Paternity Leave

For many new parents, returning to work after maternity or paternity leave can be a challenging and emotional experience. While the leave period provides a valuable opportunity for parents to bond with their new child, it can be difficult to leave them in the care of someone else and transition back into the workforce. In this article, we explore some of the common challenges faced by new parents when returning to work, and what can be done to support them.

Emotional attachment to the child

One of the biggest challenges for new parents is the emotional attachment they feel to their child. It can be difficult to leave them in the care of someone else, especially if the child is very young. This can cause feelings of guilt and anxiety, which can make it hard to focus on work. Employers can support new parents by providing them with flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, to help them balance work and caregiving responsibilities.

Lack of sleep and fatigue

New parents may also experience a lack of sleep and fatigue due to caring for their newborn, which can make it difficult to concentrate and be productive at work. Employers can help by providing support and understanding, such as allowing new parents to take short breaks when needed or offering a space for napping during lunch breaks. It is also important for new parents to prioritize their self-care, such as getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and eating nutritious food.

Adjustment to a new routine

The transition to a new routine can be challenging, especially if the new parent is juggling work and childcare responsibilities. Finding a new balance between work and home life can take time and may cause stress. Employers can support new parents by providing them with a phased return to work, such as part-time hours or a reduced workload, to help them adjust to the new routine gradually.


Unfortunately, new parents, especially women, can experience discrimination in the workplace due to their caregiving responsibilities. This can include being passed over for promotions or being treated unfairly by colleagues or managers. Employers can help to combat discrimination by creating an inclusive and supportive workplace culture that values diversity and recognizes the valuable contributions of all employees, regardless of their caregiving responsibilities.

Childcare availability and affordability

Finding quality and affordable childcare can be a challenge, and this can make it difficult for new parents to return to work if they don’t have a support network in place to help them. Employers can support their employees by providing access to childcare support, such as on-site daycare or subsidies for childcare expenses. They can also consider offering paid family leave or flexible work arrangements to help parents manage their caregiving responsibilities.

In conclusion, returning to work after maternity or paternity leave can be challenging for new parents due to a range of factors. Employers can support their employees by providing flexible work arrangements, understanding and support, and access to childcare support. By creating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, employers can help new parents to successfully transition back into the workforce and achieve their career goals while balancing their caregiving responsibilities.