Many women fight with the idea of when to work after giving birth. They’ve spent the majority of the last 40 weeks thinking about the baby, preparing for the baby, and eventually leaving work to give birth and recover from delivery. The typical recovery period is six weeks, after which women are cleared physically to return to work. However, physical preparedness is not always the only consideration when choosing when to work after giving birth.

The Physical Recovery Process
The female body goes through some amazing changes during pregnancy. After giving birth, more changes occur, including a sudden drop in hormone levels, shedding of excess water retained during pregnancy and a return to normal blood volume. These changes can cause extreme fatigue, in addition to the adjustment of having a new infant in the home. Most women wait about six weeks from their baby’s birth date to return to work, though some doctors will clear a new mother for work as early as three weeks postpartum. Complications during delivery or C-section may prolong recovery time.

The Mental Recovery Process
Dropping hormone levels often lead to mood swings and bouts of sadness called baby blues. Most women recover from baby blues within the six-week recovery period, though some women experience emotional issues longer than the initial six weeks. If you have feelings of sadness or depression during the postpartum period, contact your doctor to talk about your feelings and learn how and when to seek additional support.

Preparing for the Return to Work
Once you’ve decided when to work after giving birth, you need to prepare for your actual return. Contact your employer and give them your estimated return date. This tells your employer when to expect you back in the office or work setting. If you need flexible scheduling or you wish to return only part-time, talk with your employer prior to the end of your maternity leave so all details are worked out before your leave ends. Some options for flexible scheduling include working from home, working fewer longer days per week or working a flexible schedule that gives you the freedom of choosing when and where to work. Not all options are available with all employers, which is why it is important to talk to your employer as soon as you’ve decided when to work after giving birth.

Preparing Childcare
Childcare options are plentiful and varied. Some new parents choose daycare or personal childcare in the home. Other parents choose to work opposite schedules so there is always a parent at home. Still, other parents choose to lean on relatives to care for their baby during the day in order to eliminate the need for formal daycare. Discuss the various options with your partner before choosing when to work after giving birth.