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Resuming Work Without Guilt After Pregnancy

When your baby is born, do you plan to return to work?  Do you feel guilty about not staying home to care for your baby?  You're not alone.  Many women feel guilty when they begin leaving their child with a caregiver to return to work.  But there’s no reason to feel guilt – here's why.

Women return to work after pregnancy for a variety of reasons.  Some women return to work because their family needs their income.  There’s no reason to feel guilty when you’re working to help care for your family.  On the contrary, you should be proud of the contribution you’re making to your family – however you’re making that contribution.

Other women return to work because that income can make a difference in their family's lives for the better.  Maybe it means better schools or the ability to live in a safer neighborhood.  Again, these are important contributions to the family and you can always feel proud of helping in this way.

Other women return to work because they need work to feel fulfilled.  This kind of “we don't need the money, but I want to work anyway” motive for return to work often leads to feelings of guilt.  What many of these women fail to realize is that feeling fulfilled ultimately makes you a better mother.  There’s nothing wrong about wanting to have a rich and full life.  In fact, pursuing those things that fulfill you makes you a good role model for your child.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting a career and motherhood and there’s no reason to feel guilty if you feel this way.

Caring for an infant all day requires a particular personality that not every mother has. Being a stay at home mom means having little or no time for yourself, and limited interactions with other adults. For some women, this is a wonderful existence, but for other women, it feels isolating. Women who want to resume work after pregnancy because being a full-time, stay at home mom isn’t a good fit with their personality often feel guilty – they feel that they’re somehow less motherly or somehow deficient because they don’t want to stay with their children full time. They may also feel frustrated if their only companion all day is a small child who can neither speak nor sit up on its own.

It is perhaps these women who most need our reassurance that there are many different types of mothers and many different ways to raise a healthy, well-adjusted and happy child. It comes back again to the question of being fulfilled and how being happy and fulfilled yourself makes you a better mother.

But perhaps the most reassurance we can give to mothers to want to return to work after pregnancy is that in study after study, no appreciable cognitive or psychological differences have been found between children who are placed in day care and those who are raised by stay at home parents. You needn't feel guilty, because you – and your child – will be just fine in either situation.