When I was pregnant with my first, I was a sixth grade teacher teaching science at a middle school. My daughter was due a few weeks after the new school year started, which meant that I was very pregnant at the school orientation to meet my new students and parents.
As I gave my speech on what to expect for the year as well as what would happen when I leave for maternity leave, I noticed “looks” from moms around the room. As I opened the discussion up for questions, there were quite a few times when I was asked if I would be returning to work after the baby was born. Even though I covered that in the speech prior, these parents had doubts that I would return. They expressed their concern that I would fall in love with my little girl and never want to return to the workforce again.
They were right, but in only some ways. I did fall in love with my little girl, but I also wanted to return to work after my maternity leave was up. With my husband living over a thousand miles away from us, returning to work gave me the much needed adult time that I longed for at home. I loved my job and being able to educate others. It made my time with my daughter just that much more special when I picked her up after I got off work and on the weekends. Although it was a tough decision to decided whether or not to return back to work (I admit I did extend my maternity leave,) I know that it was the right decision.
Deciding whether or not to stay at home after the baby is born or to return to work can be a tough decision for many mothers. According to a new study, your postpartum happiness depends on whether you do what you really want to do in regards to returning to work or staying at home.
The research, conducted on 1,110 first time mothers at Brigham Young University and published in the journal Human Relations, found that 71 percent of the mothers were not doing what they really wanted to do in regards to working or not working after they had their baby. Of the women surveyed, the postpartum depression rates are much higher if a mother does the opposite of what she really wants to do, whether she stays at home or goes to work.
Twenty five percent of the mothers in the study experienced clinical depression when they did the opposite of what they wanted compared to only 14 percent who suffered from depression and were happy with their decision of returning to work or staying at home.
Although the decision is a hard one, some women have no control over whether or not they want to stay at home or return to work regardless of what they really want to do. Some moms have to return to work after the baby to help support the family, because we all know that having a baby is a big financial commitment. Other mothers can’t find work after having a baby and are forced to stay home. It’s sad to me that this can affect their postpartum happiness, especially if you have no control over the situation.
I was fortunate to be able to return to work after having my daughter when I wanted to. The decision made me happier with myself and I think that it strengthened the relationship I shared with my daughter.