10 Things That Suck About Maternity Leave

Your baby is here. And the time spent with her at home is nothing short of heaven on earth. If you’re a working mom you know that being able to bond with her during your maternity leave is something to feel immensely grateful for. But what about when maternity leave is over? Then what? If you thought birthing a baby out of your own body was hard, you haven’t yet had to leave her. Here are the 10 things that truly suck about maternity leave.  

It’s not nearly enough time

The U.S. has the smallest maternity leave compared with most other countries. If you’re lucky, you’ll have 12 weeks alone with your baby. The freedom will feel short-lived, which makes appreciating every moment extremely important. If your workplace allows flextime, see if you can’t use that opportunity for those first few weeks to squeeze in extra cuddles.

The best-laid plans don’t go according to plan

Do you have a to-do list that is a mile long? Don’t try to cram too much into those 12 weeks. You’ll quickly realize your reality now that you’re home with baby: she needs a lot of time and attention, and you need to recover. Not to mention, postpartum hormones can feel like a rollercoaster, which can prevent you from getting much done anyway. Use the time to bond with your baby; the rest can wait.

You’re worried about missing baby’s milestones

If you’re hoping that all of her “firsts” (smile, giggle, clap or rollover) will happen during those 12 weeks, you may sadly be mistaken. These things don’t typically happen right away and you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that they could happen while you’re at work. Here’s a better reframe: they may be her firsts but it won’t be her last.

You’re thinking of work and how you’ll balance it all

Oddly enough, when you become a mom you automatically get better at multitasking and being productive. Your ability to get organized and prioritize tasks gets even stronger. But how will you balance the demands of your job and your baby? After a short while, it will all become second nature and you’ll figure all of it out.

Feeling the pressure to “bounce back” after baby

While on maternity leave, the dress code is sweat pants or yoga pants and a nursing top. On most days, looking “presentable” is not on your radar. And it will take your body awhile to adjust back to its normal shape. You may need to suck it up and buy a few new items to fit this in between time for when you go back to work and need to “dress up.”

Not having anyone around for support

One of the hardest things about maternity leave is that usually once the excitement dies down, it’s just you and your baby. You feel isolated and alone. Try to make plans for adult conversation or quality time spent with other new moms. Or consider suggesting that your friends throw you a postpartum party, which helps new moms transition into their role with the help of supportive friends and family.  

Feeling envious about the freedom your partner has

As a new mom, you’re around your baby 24/7. And if you’re also breastfeeding, there’s even more attachment. And yet, your partner can just rush off to work like it’s NBD. Even with the most supportive person, it’s hard to not feel a little bit envious of the freedom. Just remember that if you really thought about it, you wouldn’t want to trade for anything else in the world.

Panicking over trusting another person to care for your child

There will come a day when you have to hand your baby over to a virtual stranger and it’s the hardest thing about maternity leave. In your mind there’s no way another person can love and protect your baby like you do. Do your research before deciding on child care, have a backup plan and then try to relax, you’re doing the best that you can.

Feeling like you haven’t done anything

Eat, sleep, repeat for every 24-hour time period. This is your new life with baby. Feeling like you’re in a time warp is normal. Keep your focus on bonding with your baby because you can’t ever get those moments back. Everything else can be taken care of another time.

For the most part, there isn’t a concrete routine

Becoming a mom for the first time brings a lot of chaos. Unlike with work, you really don’t know what to expect. There’s no job description, manual or person training you. In the beginning, the baby throws a wrench into everything and that’s perfectly normal. Things will eventually become second nature but right now it’s expected that you’ll feel your way through everything. And that can be especially hard for new moms. Normal will come later.

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