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7 pieces of advice for women physicians coming back from maternity leave

Returning to work after maternity leave can be a difficult time for women physicians. As they try to manage the dual responsibilities of motherhood and work, many feel guilt and anxiety within both areas of their lives.

To help support current and future physicians to navigate this journey, we asked our community to share their advice for returning to work after maternity leave.

1) Schedule time off on a regular basis
2) Organize yourself
3) Add pumping time to your schedule
4) Take care of your sleep
5) Allow yourself to say no
6) Accept your new work/life balance
7) Be kind to yourself

1) Schedule time off on a regular basis

Time away from work can benefit all healthcare workers, helping to prevent negative impacts on their wellbeing, performance, and outcomes. Try to schedule regular time off where you can.

Great advice here! After going back, I scheduled myself a full day off per month when possible to hang with 1:1. Those were lovely days . Agree w/ love and care for yourself. If makes sense financially, off load by outsourcing tasks such as laundry, house cleaning etc.

— Mukta Srivastava (@smuktas) March 13, 2022

2) Organize yourself

Studies have shown that planning for the end of maternity leave can predict whether women can successfully return to work as they intended. Research also shows that those who planned for their return more during pregnancy perceived greater support from their workplace after the birth of their child.

have a pumping/ plan
get really good at pumping be4hand
advocate 4 yourself ahead of ⏰ & get all the accommodations you need
reach out to other ‍⚕️ who have done it recently for help
you’re still vulnerable to postpartum depression. Be kind to yourself.

— Sena Kilic, MD (@skilicmd) March 13, 2022

3) Add pumping time to your schedule

Nearly all women reported breastfeeding or pumping after returning to work, with many reporting insufficient time to do so. Making sure to add time into your schedule to pump can help navigate this.

Make sure u have placeholders on ur schedule for pumping. More important to have a present mommy than mommy’s milk. Delegate- laundry, cooking,cleaning etc! Take time for self care

— Arasi Maran (@ArasiMaran) March 14, 2022

4) Take care of your sleep

Parents experience more sleep disruption at night during the postpartum period. Sleep deprivation can adversely affect physicians’ ability to provide high-quality care. As such, prioritizing your sleep is essential.

@skilicmd said most of it! I’d just add: do your best to optimize sleep schedule, set up flexible childcare as you can, transition childcare before you actually start back, and don’t go back on a Monday if possible

— Dr. Jacqueline Latina (@DoctorLatina) March 13, 2022

5) Allow yourself to say no

It is impossible to do everything. Even though it’s difficult, giving yourself permission to say “no” can help you in your return to work.

It’s ok to say no… you are not superwoman. You are a great mom even if you can’t breastfeed or pump. Ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness.

— Carolina Ponce MD (@CaroPonceMD) March 14, 2022

6) Accept your new work/life balance

Spending time away from work while on maternity leave will have an impact, with many being anxious about a loss of skills or knowledge. This is normal. Expecting yourself to be at the same standard you were before maternity leave could be unrealistic. Be patient with yourself as you get your feet back underneath you.

Don’t hold yourself to the same “productivity” standards you had pre-pregnancy. Work-life priorities will change for a bit, and will continue to ebb and flow throughout your career

— Sarah Chuzi (@ChuziSarah) March 13, 2022

7) Be kind to yourself

In one study, burnout was shown to affect approximately 50% of mothers. Make sure you make time to take care of yourself, not just your family.

Give yourself grace, prioritize not only family but also YourSELF!!!& sleep whenever humanly possible

— Ki Park (@cardioPCImom) March 13, 2022

Want to participate in the conversation? Send your advice by clicking on “Tweet your reply” below

Any recommendations and/or advice for women physicians coming back from maternity leave? #WomenInMedicine #MedTwitter #WIC

— Women as One (@WomenAs1) March 13, 2022