In my clinic I spend alot of time discussing with many first time mums about when to finish work and how long is too long to continue working?
But really it is a much deeper issue for many soon to be mums…
I find it an interesting time for many soon to be mums. Until we’re thinking about finishing work, we don’t realise that work becomes a part of who we are! This happens very quickly and the more effort and time you put into your career the more many feel their work becomes who they are. So for many ladies it is a time of confusion, anxiety and apprehension.
Firstly, this is very normal - to feel overwhelmed by this transition is common. The decision about when to finish work when you have all of these questions becomes HUGE! So, before you book into the psychologist fearing depression is imminent take a deep breath as this motherhood gig is unknown - you are not sure what sort of little person you are going to bring home! You might get ‘the sleeper’ or ‘the screamer’ or someone in between. Each of your little people has their own little personality from birth. We have to adapt our expectations and parenting strategies to the little person that you have.
So when you think about when to leave work, money and your health can also come into this decision making process…
How much leave entitlements do you have??
Is it paid or unpaid leave??
Have you had a normal pregnancy? If not, your Doctor might ask you to finish work earlier to take the stress of work off your body in the aim to have a healthier pregnancy.
With those questions answered, then the deeper ones emerge...
Are you your work?
If this is you, it is a perfect time to step back and really think about what you like to do other than work. It’s a great time to speak with your partner and re-kindle that spark and appreciation of how important your relationship is! You might sit back and realise that lots of what you talk about together is work work work - so take work away and you feel a bit lost.
Personally I wish someone had discussed some of these things with me I had kids. I found the first few months of parenthood overwhelming with many issues arising I didn’t even consider. Work had become a huge part of who I was. As you can imagine, when you are a Midwife, everyone assumes you already know how to be a mum - this is not so!
Yes I can hear you all thinking, this silly woman has asked more questions than she has answered; so here is it - the short answer to when you should finish work…
For a desk job around 36 weeks
For an active job where you are on your feet most of the day (eg- nurse, sales job) around 34 weeks.
I hope this helps many of you realise that your feelings and thoughts are very normal and just remember you are just about to start the most important ‘job’ of your life - being a mum J