As a new mother in Switzerland, you are entitled to a minimum of 14 weeks (98 days) of maternity leave and you can expect to receive up to 80% or your income. Mothers cannot work during the eight weeks following the birth of their child. Returning to work after the birth of a child is a joy for some of us. We look forward to meeting our colleagues, spending time on our files, having coffee with adults and getting our noses out of nappies and bottles.
But for others, this return is more difficult, even a nightmare. There are many reasons for it. Some are specific to a mother's situation, for example, the baby does not sleep through the night and the mom is exhausted. Others are inherent to the workplace: our boss has not accepted our pregnancy well, seeing only negative aspects such as our absence during maternity leave, the loss of a resource, or the fear of seeing the future mother distracted from her work.
A very small minority of women happily announce a pregnancy in the workplace. Unfortunately, while this is one of the most beautiful events of our lives, most of us reveal it starting with "I'm sorry...".
Many stereotypes make us perceive motherhood as a negative event from a professional point of view, from an obstacle to our career to the fear of being replaced during our absence.
Let us look for possible solutions for these three elements: worries related to maternity, the return to work, fears for the professional career.
Worries related to maternity
For reasons such as lack of sleep or organization, it is important to get help as soon as possible and at least in the baby's second month if you feel you can't get organized. Call for help from your family, a midwife, or another mother. Talk to the nurses of the medical care (CMS in Suisse romande) in your city. It is also important to prepare yourself psychologically so that you are no longer in such physical contact with your baby, who will be entrusted to a nursery, a day mother or the family. You must feel comfortable with the planned custody solution. Go talk to the day-care educator as soon as possible, inform the day-care mother about what is important to you, agree with the baby's grandmother. The clearer the situation is from this point of view, the freer your mind will be to work calmly.
Return to work
On the professional side, if you have a good relationship with your boss and colleagues, get back in touch as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Go for lunch or coffee with your favourite colleague to start. Consider a short session with your supervisor before returning to work to reconnect, while giving the baby to someone you trust. You'll see that everything is going well, and your supervisor will be reassured. But under no circumstances should you have the ambition to return to work before the end of maternity leave and bear in mind that it is not up to you to find solutions in your absence.
Fears for the professional career
If your working environment was not good before your maternity leave, stay home and enjoy. As soon as you return to work, discuss challenging topics one by one, take each problem one after the other, and look for a solution. Do not extend your working hours. Ask your supervisor for interviews and help in solving problems, setting priorities. Get help from your trusted colleagues, for example, they can suggest how to discuss certain points with your supervisor. If you have tried everything and are unhappy at work, then consider a change, but don't rush into it. Ask your husband, friends and family for support. They can babysit the baby while you go to interviews. Word of mouth is often the best way to find a job.
Especially, don't worry, a small baby will easily adapt to a new childcare solution. And he'll be much happier with a happy working mum.
Professional careers and maternity are not in competition. Many mothers have a perfect balance between the two.
It is a question of being in a good mindset and above all in agreement with oneself. Be yourself.
A mother who loves her job and is forcing herself to stay at home will not be satisfied and will not make her child happy. It is important to spend quality time with your child. But also learn to balance work hours and workload, learn to say no, give up a project. Once again, get help, a father or grandmother can pick up the baby from day-care or take him to the paediatrician occasionally perfectly well.
Being a mother is an opportunity
In conclusion, motherhood should be considered as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. During maternity leave, colleagues will have to move away from their pattern and may show other aspects of their skills. When a mother returns from maternity leave, she will probably be more efficient, since her working hours are now counted. She will be more efficient at getting to relevant tasks at work, something she has learned since becoming a mother. Finally, let's remember the fundamentals: having a child is a wonderful event!