In preparation for a presentation at a local NCT event, I conducted some informal research into women’s experiences of maternity leave. Below is a summary of the results. If you took part, thank you SO much. Your support is much appreciated.
- Survey distributed via social media, via NCT groups, Fetcheveryone and LinkedIn
- More than 100 women responded
- From all over the UK
- Average age at time of survey: 35
- 50% of these women were sharing experiences of their first maternity leave
- Most respondents had taken or are taking between 9 and 12 months of maternity leave, on average 10.5 months
- However some had taken 2.5 years, a few as little as 6 weeks
How much did women enjoy their maternity leave?
- 55% MORE than expected
- 30% ABOUT as expected
- 15% LESS than expected
How do women feel about the length of their maternity leave?
- 50% would have liked MORE time
- 47% felt it was ABOUT right
- 3% would have liked LESS time
Concerns BEFORE maternity leave
- Boredom, loneliness, lack of social interaction with adults
- How will it affect my career
- Finding childcare
Things other mums wish they had known BEFORE maternity leave
- The time goes SO fast …
- To be stronger and stand up for my rights at work
- You don’t have to have a firm plan before the baby arrives
- That Ergo carriers are so useful!
- “I wish I’d listened to the people who said – put your feet up now before baby comes. You’ll be so busy afterwards!”
Top tips from other mums
- Focus on you and the baby. Forget work.
- Try to use the time to reflect on what you really want from your career.
- Do everything at your own pace. Don’t worry about having the house spotless. Enjoy your baby/ babies as they grow so fast. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Make the most of the time as it goes so fast
- Make use of NCT and other networks of friends as having people around that are in the same situation is a life saver.
- Find out in advance what groups are offered in your area and, if you can, get along to some before your baby is born. Breastfeeding groups, in particular, are welcoming of expectant mums.
- Once your baby is born make the effort to get out and go to groups, even if you don’t really want to. Chatting to others in the same situation helps lots. [And remember, most women are feeling the same as you]
- Discuss finances in detail with your partner and plan for the longest period of maternity leave not the shortest.
- Save as much as you can.
- Get the facts about your rights with regards to maternity leave and annual leave.
- Get involved with your local NCT branch. Attending teas, Playgroup, hosting, volunteering. Helps you to make new friends and acquire new skills.
- Research your area BEFORE you have the baby. After is just too late.
So how does this fit with your experiences of maternity leave? Do you have a top tip to add?
If you’re taking extended maternity leave or a career break, what worries or concerns do you have about going back to the workplace? I’ll be covering that in a future article.