I chose to return to work 3 months after my baby was born. I feel judged by my employer, friends and society

In a society where we speak proudly of pro-choice, yet battle on a daily basis to manage the significant risk of those who have been brainwashed into believing in a false idealism. Why are we questioning a mothers right to return to work shortly after having a baby?

Since falling pregnant I have found myself questioning those who feel it appropriate to not only question individuals, but in my experience, outrightly judge those who decide to return to work before the end of their maternity leave.

Whilst I will draw on personal experience, the passion to put fingertip to keyboard comes from a desire to want to effect change and growth, and remove the ‘mum guilt’ from a person’s right to ‘choose’ what is right for them and their family.

Our society has seen movements in recent years which are there to empower women and address some of the discrimination they have faced historically. The gender pay gap reporting requirement being one of the more well publicised examples, which has seen companies such as the BBC heavily scrutinised for the discrepancies in salary between male and female presenters. Such had perhaps lulled me and others into a false sense of hope that a female would therefore be given the judgement free right to continue on their career path shortly after childbirth or adoption.

Addressing the facts – the law states women are free to return to work two weeks after childbirth, with statutory maternity leave lasting a total of 39 weeks; the first 6 weeks being paid at 90% of your wage and the remaining 33 weeks being paid at £145.18 per week or 90% of your wage, whichever is the lower.

For many, the calculations dictate the return to work date for them, as they simply can not afford not return to work. In 2017 £25,299 was the average gross salary for a female in the UK. On the basis of that figure, a simplistic illustration of the financial deficit for taking the full 39 weeks maternity leave is the difference between earning £18,974.25 for said period, compared to £7418.14 for the same period receiving SML. That’s a difference of over £11,500. Unfortunately, the more you earn, the bleaker the forecast becomes for those on a higher salary bracket.

The judgement I have experienced from returning to work three months after childbirth has come from a vast variety of sources and has been expressed through mediums such as gasps of disbelief, judgmental comments on my ability to be a ‘good mother’ because I have ‘chosen’ to return to work after three months, utter disgust, negative comments about my partner ‘not being supportive’ and the list goes on.

Such negative views have been received by friends, family members, midwives, health professionals, antenatal groups and joe public. My response to date has been to provide an honest but polite response. However, my frustrations have continued to compress throughout my pregnancy through the regularity and consistency of the comments made, and so I find myself coming back to question – why do people feel its their right to pass comment and judgement on something that is so personal?

The hope in writing this is to make people take a second to think before they speak and pass judgement on someone else. Women should have the right to choose what’s right for them and their family, and in some cases the choice might be dictated by other circumstances such as finances, as illustrated above. For me, the choice has been directed by financial commitments to an extent, but also owing to the fact that my career has been and always will be important to me. This doesn’t mean I will love my child any less or be a worse parent as a result. It’s a very naïve perspective to assume that the mother is going to be the main and most effective caregiver. You only need to glance at other cultures and parenting styles to see that actually a child can be successfully cared for by multiple adults, as long as their basic needs are being met.

Whether this has challenged or changed your views, who knows, and so I’ll finish on a quote by Earl Nightingale: ‘When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.’


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