What it’s like to return from maternity leave during COVID pandemic

by pregnancy journalist

The isolating and emotionally crippling shift back to work after having a baby during the global pandemic threatens to drive a cohort of new moms out of the workforce.

Why it matters: 1 in 4 women are thinking of downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether, according to data from McKinsey and Lean In, and experts say the risk is higher for mothers trying to return to work without the support systems and child care options they may have had pre-pandemic.

Quick take: Last month, I came back to work after taking time off to care for my daughter, who was born eight weeks premature. She is my third child, so I thought I knew how to manage the transition. Boy, was I wrong.

What they’re saying: I asked other women at Axios who’d come back from maternity leave during the past year about their experiences.

“The issue with the system is, at best, it’s not set up to support working mothers or working families, and at worst it really works against them,” said Danna Greenberg, professor at Babson College and co-author of “Maternal Optimism,” on a Harvard Business Review podcast on the topic.

To be sure: We are among the lucky ones — we work for a company that provides paid maternity leave. In March 2018, only 17% of civilian workers had access to paid family leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Between the lines: Working moms have had to lower their standards at home and work. And moms returning from the maternity-leave trenches are often forced to lessen the work load even more to keep the balls they juggle in the air, which can delay career advancement.

The bottom line: If more and more working moms drop out, it’s harder to re-build the pipeline of senior talent so many companies are looking for, Greenberg said.

This content was originally published here.

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