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Parenting at CYB: redefining yourself after maternity leave

Wrapping up our parenting blog series, our Head of Design Christine Fent writes about the challenges of returning to work after giving birth
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Christine Fent

Head of Design

31 Aug 2023

Work - work - work - work - work... pregnancy... birth... baby - baby - baby - baby - baby... and then, back to work. This is the cycle of every woman who returns to work after maternity leave. 

But going back to work is never the same again - and with that process comes a lot to deal with emotionally. Excitement, anxiety, guilt, sadness, relief - these were just some of the feelings that overcame me when I returned to work after a period of looking after my new baby. 

You don’t know what to expect becoming a parent - but you equally don’t know what to expect when returning to your place of work. What took me by surprise was that going back to work was quite different from how I envisioned it would be.

It can be a lonely time. You feel like nobody else understands what you are going through, and all of the aforementioned emotions hitting you at once can be quite overwhelming.

It's been quite a few years now since I had my children - long before I started at Caution Your Blast Ltd (CYB) - and I've had plenty of time to look back and reflect. 

With this blog, I aim to share some of my experiences and hope to start a more open conversation for new mums who may be going through the same issues I did. Here are three things I went through, and what I wish I knew at the time. 

Two worlds colliding

Having spent months in the baby cloud focusing solely on my baby's schedule and needs, I was craving for adult conversations that didn’t revolve around baby fluids and sleep deprivation. 

But initially I found it quite challenging to get into a professional headspace. It felt like I needed to relearn a language I hadn’t spoken for a while. The daily work schedule of client and team meetings, writing, reading – just ‘normal’ work stuff – didn’t feel like second nature any longer. It took quite a few weeks to settle back into my old routines.

What I’ve learned:

When returning to work I expected I would just hit the ground running. But I actually needed some time to readjust and get back into a very different way of thinking. I wish I had given myself the time and space for this process by lowering my expectations to deliver straight away. My advice would be - treat yourself like a new colleague who needs to learn their way around. This will take off the pressure and help you to navigate between your two worlds.

Imposter syndrome – questioning my own worth

Coming back to work was a much bigger deal than I ever had anticipated. I thought I would just neatly slot back in where I had left things off. 

Of course the workplace had changed – new clients, new projects, new colleagues – but the greatest shift had really happened in my head. 

I assume there is a medical explanation for some of it – all the hormonal changes can massively impact your mental state – but I was surprised to suddenly find myself questioning my ability to do the job that I had excelled in pre-baby. Self-doubt had replaced previous confidence - I felt I had completely shrunk into myself. 

At the time I felt like I was the only one experiencing these thoughts, but over the years I heard exactly this same sentiment from other mums, many of whom hadn’t even returned to work because they felt inadequate. 

What I’ve learned:

Realising that things had changed – not for better or worse, just different – would have made a big difference. Also, allowing myself to adapt to the new reality of a changed workplace and my own new set-up would have helped.

It would also have really helped me if I had examined my negative thoughts and self-doubts by asking: ‘what is the evidence for it?’. I would have found that in reality there was no hard evidence that I couldn't do my job well, even if that was my perception at the time.

Guilt - my constant companion

And then there was the non-stop guilt following me around. I always felt I was in the wrong place and should be focused on exactly the ‘other’ part of my life. My own expectation was that I had to give 100% in every aspect of my life, 100% of the time.

Whilst singing ‘the wheels on the bus’ with my daughter I checked my phone for important work messages, and when at work I played through in my head what I could play with my daughter when I got home because I missed her so much. 

It really depleted my energy levels and sucked the joy from everything I did.

What I’ve learned:

In hindsight, I regret that I didn’t acknowledge that I was aiming for the impossible. I constantly felt I was letting everyone down, which put me in a very negative and self-destructive mindset. 

The shift needs to happen in your head; I should have recognised and admitted to myself that I can only be in one place at a time – and, yes, that’s totally fine and enough. 

Acknowledging that I had to fulfil two roles, and giving myself the permission to do so, would have helped me to be fully present in the moment and engage wholeheartedly with whatever is in front of me. 


In summary, it is a big step to get back into work after time off with your baby - and that needs to be acknowledged. 

Opening up about your internal and external struggles allows others to be aware of them, and gives them the opportunity to support you. You’re not alone.

And lastly, give yourself credit for what you do. After all, you’re essentially juggling two jobs. 

You’re amazing!

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