Having a baby is a job of its own, even if mom already has a job or career going. Many if not most businesses will grant maternity leave so mom can prepare for the hospital trip, be in the hospital, and have some time to spend with your baby. Many women return to work after just a few weeks, a couple months at most. It can be scary and intimidating to get back in there, but if it’s something you’re interested in, you should follow those dreams and do what works for you! Many women return to work and have great relationships with their children, it’s entirely possible and if it makes you happy, it’s a great idea to try returning.
According to a question on the Women of Influence site, many of the women who return to work after maternity leave last only a little over a year before they resign. There are many reasons for this, some miss their children too much or feel their bond may suffer by working. Some can’t take the constant questions, borderlining harassment, once they’re back. Some simply are finished with that part of their lives and, even though they try to stretch it out, they accept it’s over and move on to the next part. There are so many reasons women might leave when they get back to work, and we’ll be covering them being bothered and harassed by nosy or rude coworkers. With some helpful tips, we’re hopeful you can return to work after maternity leave without many if any issues.
20 Does it feel weird doing real work again?
Real work as opposed to the “fake” work of raising a baby. You’re already struggling to keep up with two jobs now, the one before the baby and the one of raising a baby. Now you have people asking rude questions, as if what you do at home is easy or not really a challenge. It’s just raising a child, how hard could it be, people do it all the time! That’s their mentality on it, and it’s very frustrating because, as parents, we know how hard it can be. Especially in the early months, when they’re tiny and need for everything but can’t do any of it themselves. These people might honestly be wondering how it is to be back at work, but chances are if they ask in a rude way, they’re just being jerks.
You’re burning yourself from both ends already, let's just add some people being nosy jerks, too! Try not to let them get to you, they’re either just nosy or jealous. Regardless of the reason, they’re just trying to get under your skin. It’s frustrating, but don’t let them get to you. Try to get some rest at night, between baby room runs, and let their criticism roll off of you.
19 You look pretty good, considering how you left.
Usually, by the time we go on maternity leave, we’re pretty far along in our pregnancy. We have our big baby bump of a belly, swelling all over the place, and look very much like a pregnant person. When we come back, while our bodies are entirely different than before we were pregnant, we don’t look as round as we did before. Inevitably, someone is going to comment on your body. Some people are happy to see you doing well, they mean it in a nice way. Some people are rude and maybe jealous, so they comment like you didn’t look great before you left, too. Either way, you’ll hear this comment more than a few times, try not to let it get to you. You looked great before leaving, as motherhood does, and you look great now!
Remember to cut yourself some slack, your body has gone through a lot of changes over the last nine months. Maybe you weigh more, maybe things have sagged from where they used to be, but that’s okay. As we mature and grow, we change. You look different now than you did ten years ago! It’s just part of life, really. But remember, you did something amazing and incredible. You created a new human and precious life inside your own body, you grew and nurtured this little person! That’s awesome, no matter how it may change your body, or how people will comment on your body.
18 Back already?
While some people may act like you were gone forever, like your “vacation” lasted too long; there’s always someone who thinks the opposite. They think you’re back too soon, maybe they think you should spend more time with your new baby, or they simply didn’t want you back. They could be aiming for your job, or they could simply have a chip on their shoulder towards you. Regardless of the reason, someone’s going to ask about you being back so soon. Maybe they were hoping you would be gone longer, or forever. Or maybe they’re just surprised because their own assumptions indicate you should be gone longer.
It’s impossible to tell what someone else is thinking or why they say or ask the things they do, but you need to try and not let it bother you. Don’t let it undermine your hard work, both at your job and at home with your precious baby. You’re doing fine. Babies still bond with and love their working parents the same as if you were home all day, every day. Why these people feel the need to share their questions or comments is beyond me, but you’ll be asked some pretty dumb questions, including comments on being back so soon or so late. Try not to let it bother you, they’re just being jerks.
17 Are you going to have more kids? When?
You just made a new baby, you just went through all the hardships and joys of creating new life. And still, people will demand you do it again. They’ll ask when you’ll do it again like it’s a magic trick or concert with an encore. Sometimes they ask because they think you need to wait a certain amount like it’s their call about how to form your family. Some people simply want to be involved with the conversation, which revolves around the new baby given your “time off” for maternity leave. And, again, jealousy is another one. They may see how well you’re doing or assume you’re doing well and babies are easy, and they have a hidden sarcastic reason for asking if you’re having more.
Try not to let them get to you, though. Have another when and if you want, it’s your family and your body, so it’s your call entirely. When asked this question, let them know you’re focusing on your bond with your brand new baby, and it’s not something you’re worried about for now. You’re coping with your body changes and everything after having one, the last thing on your mind is probably if you’re going to do it again so soon. Besides the fact you’re at work to work, someone will ask this, maybe more than once or more than one person. Brush it off and stick to your own game plan, regardless of what others may want you to do instead.
16 My mat leave was worse.
Without hesitation, there will be at least one person who has to complain that you get to have maternity leave. Either they had one but it was a hundred times worse, or they didn’t get one for very long, or they may not have even gotten one at all. They may comment or complain to you like it’s your fault, as if you personally took a good maternity leave to spite them. Nevermind how much work you were doing during that “time off”, preparing for birth then going through it so you can have this new lovely human in your life. You’ve been doing a lot, and reluctantly have to leave them.
When people comment about their experiences with maternity leave, usually to complain about how bad their leave was, there isn’t much we can say back to them. We can pretty much just shrug, really. Tell them your maternity leave was fine, hard work but enjoyable. We didn’t choose to have a better leave than other people’s leaves were, we just happened to have an enjoyable time. You can tell them it was hard, difficult to go through, but enjoyable to have the time with your new baby. You wish you could have more time at home with your kids, really. Maternity leave wasn’t nearly long enough!
15 How’s your baby doing?
It can be an innocent enough question, you have a new baby and people will, of course, ask how they’re doing. Once you hear it a hundred times, however, it gets a little frustrating. You know if you answer too honestly like if they’re not wanting to sleep without being held or are colicky, you’ll hear a hundred different suggestions, most you’ve already tried and didn’t see any success. If you say the baby is doing fine, people may think you have it too easy, or you’re simply lying. It’s not that people want to be rude with their assumptions, they just have their own experiences that influence how they’ll take your answer.
The best thing to do is to say the baby and you are adjusting to each other and your new lives. Not too much information, but enough you don’t sound like you’re riding easy while everyone else has to work. People get jealous, especially if they think you have it easy and they’re still working. It’s not intentional, and it doesn’t help to work them up by an answer they could perceive as complaining or as you having such a nice, simple time. Babies are not easy, but some people think they are. Prepare for this question, you’ll hear it a lot!
14 But don’t you miss your baby?
Some questions are just dumb. This is at the top of the list of stupid questions you’ll hear often. Of course, we miss our babies when we’re not with them, sometimes we even miss them when we are with them! They’re peacefully asleep and we miss them, holding them and rocking them even if we were tired of it just moments before. So it’s no wonder we would miss them when we return to work. Instead of seeing them constantly, we have to leave them at home or at a sitter’s house while we go. It’s not easy, and it shouldn’t be made into a dumb question that has an obvious answer. It also makes us feel guilty if we get caught up in work or enjoy some quiet if we have a vocal or colicy baby.
With this question, I don’t like the idea of being coy. If someone wants to ask a stupid question, give them a blunt and honest answer. Tell them of course you miss your baby, your whole entire little world. Of course it’s hard to leave them, it breaks your heart. Of course. That’s the honest and blunt answer. It’s like saying duh I miss my baby without being as rude as they’re being. You’re being the bigger person by not being rude, but you’re making it clear they asked an unnecessary and ridiculous question. They should be aware and smart enough to know the answer already, having to ask if you miss your baby is dumb, plain and simple.
13 If you want my advice, and you do…
Everyone, whether they’re parents already or not, have some advice they want to give. Everyone wants to feel important, especially after you come into the spotlight when returning from maternity leave. Everyone wants to be included. And even outside of work, even about things not pertaining to children, someone has some advice over your life. Sometimes it’s good advice, people want to help sometimes too. Other times, it’s like people are just talking to hear their own voice. It’s a frustrating balance to know who is sincere and who just wants a part of your pie. People have motives for everything they do, from innocent ones to rude or jealous ones.
When people give you advice, and a lot of people do, we may feel like we have no choice but to follow it. Maybe they know something we don’t know, or maybe they just present the information and themselves in such a way we feel they know what they’re talking about. But when you get non-stop waves of unwanted or unneeded advice, it can be exhausting. The best thing to do is thank them for helping, whether they’re trying to help or just being rude, and decide for yourself what advice is worth keeping or not.
12 Did it feel like a vacation?
We might not be at our jobs, but we’re still working hard. Being a parent is a fulltime job and some people just don’t get that. Maybe they’re older and forgot how much work the kids are, especially when they’re still babies. Maybe they don’t have kids so they don’t have any of the insight at how much you had to do to bring your baby into the world. Whatever the reason, people will ask if it was a vacation. They’ll question if you enjoyed your ‘time off’ when having the baby. They say how lucky you were not to be working, regardless of what your job is or how hard or easy it was. They assume if you’re not at work, it’s like you’re on a fun vacay to play around with friends.
The truth is, we’re not on vacation. We’re working harder than we ever have before, growing a new little person and birthing it. We have to have our baby and try to adjust to this new human living with us. We have to get things ready to leave them and return to work. We have a lot of new responsibilities and it doesn’t stop, we don’t get breaks like with work. We try to cram in our lunch before the baby wakes up, demanding their own food source immediately. It’s very rewarding, but it’s not a fun little vacation from work.
11 Are you still happy here?
We return back to work after maternity leave for so many reasons, sometimes it’s because we enjoy the job, we’re happy there and want to return. We miss being there and really hate when we have to leave, even if it’s to have our precious babies. We love our kiddos, but we want to get back into the hot seat too. When we finally do, people will, without a doubt, ask if we want to be back. If we’re still happy to be at work. If it’s enjoyable anymore, especially after our “vacation time off”, like work is no longer enjoyable because we have a baby at home. Sure, we’d rather be home snuggling with our babies, but we enjoy work, too.
When asked this, simply smile and nod and tell them you’re happy with where your life is right now. They’re looking for a specific kind of answer. Either that you’re glad to be at work rather than home with your new child, or you’re miserable at work and want to leave as soon as possible. This way, you won’t give them the satisfaction of an answer they want to their loaded question, but you’re still being honest and truthful. You’re happy with where your life is, things are alright, you’re happy to be at work and to spend time with your baby.
10 Do you feel like you’ll never catch up on your work?
Sometimes we have to wonder how they got along without us at all, when we return to work and there’s a ton of stuff we need to do. Did the company just come to an entire standstill the couple months we were gone? Apparently, they did, judging by how much we need to do when we get back. We were working hard on bringing life into the world and setting things up when we have to leave our new baby to go to work, now we have to work on catching up. Which might seem daunting and unforgiving, but we can do it, slowly but surely we’ll defeat the piles of work left waiting for us. Just focus on what you need to do, and get it going as best you can. It won’t be easy, but it won’t last forever, either.
People will see and know you have a lot of work on your plate when you get back. Instead of trying to offer a hand to help, they’ll ask dumb questions. Maybe they want to be funny, maybe they’re just nosy or rude. Whatever the reason, it’s frustrating to have all this work to do and have someone making comments about you never being able to finish it all. Simply tell them you’ll do your best and it’ll be finished soon. If you want to get cheeky, you can ask if they’re interested in helping, since they’re asking and all.
9 You don’t look like a mom.
What is a mom’s standard look, anyways? Do we have to wear frumpy shirts and really high waisted mom jeans to classify as “mom” looking enough? In all honesty, your style won't be changing much after you have your child, anyways. You had to get new clothes when you were pregnant, nothing else from before would fit. So your style had to adjust during pregnancy, give room and space for your growing baby. But after you have your little bundle of joy, your style will most likely return to to usual. You have something you like that’s comfortable to you, that doesn’t change just because you had a baby.
Without a doubt, someone will tell you how much you don’t look like a mom. Probably more than one person, probably more than one time. Some mean it as a compliment, you look good and they want to say something to let you know. Some are just being rude, probably jealous of how great you look. Try not to let it bother you, they’re just being rude and you deserve so much better. Tell them you’re definitely sure you’re a mother, after having your baby you know for sure you’re a mother.
8 How was the birth?
This one is a very personal question, and definitely will not the last of personal questions you’ll hear after having a baby. It’s like people think they have a right to know every detail about your labor, like it’s not a private thing. Sometimes they’re parents themselves and want to connect over something they now have in common with you, it’s not meant to be prying. Maybe they had a unique experience they want to share with you, try to bond over something you both share. Sometimes they want to know because they’re nosy, or think it had to be an easy, simple process. Whatever the reason, they’ll ask like t’s not private or personal.
It’s hard to find the right answer to questions like this, especially since it’s a personal question. Try not to get worked up over it, brush it off as best as you can. Tell them it was tiring but you’re happy to have your baby. That’s all the answer they need or deserve, really. It’s a private event that happened with you and your partner, it doesn’t involve them. It’s not a regular question to simply ask, it’s very rude and not fair to put you in that position.
7 Who has your baby while you’re at work?
The question alone is upsetting, bringing up that you’re not with your baby and how much it sucks. Then they have to word it in a cruel way, like you’re abandoning your baby instead of simply returning to work. There’s many reasons people will ask this, and especially in this way. Sometimes they’re resentful that you can provide childcare so you can return to work, maybe they couldn’t do the same easily or affordably. Or they think you should be home with your child, regardless of wanting to work. There’s a lot of reasons, and they’re usually dumb, to be honest. Rarely, people are either trying to make conversation or simply ask about your life, but it doesn’t happen often.
When asked this, simply tell them they’re with someone safe and you’re happy you can afford to do that kind of care so you can also return to work. It’s not the answers they’re looking for, it won’t fuel whatever motivation they have to pester you with this question. And that’s good. Don’t give them that satisfaction. You’re not leaving your baby, not in the tone they’re making it seem. You’re returning to work and that’s a good thing. Not only are you providing for your child and their future, but you’re doing something for you when everything in your current life is centered around your new baby.
6 Did he get vacation time too?
While most prying questions will be about you specifically, some people will sometimes ask about your partner too. Maybe they’re asking how they’re coping, or what they did during the birth. How life at home is going now that you have another, tiny, helpfuls human living with you. But a lot of times, when you first return from maternity leave, they’ll ask if your partner was given time off, too. And, again, it’ll usually be asked if they had a vacation like you did- never mind it wasn’t a vacation at all, since you were still working hard on having a baby and bringing them home.
Answer honestly, it’s not a big deal even if it’s annoying to be interrogated by everyone over everything. Either they did or they didn’t, easy. You don’t have to explain how they spent their “time off”, you don’t need to say what they did or if they enjoyed it. If they helped with the baby, which would no doubt be part of why they’re asking. They want to see if you have help, if it’s easier or harder. Maybe it’ll make them feel special, maybe they just want to see if they need to be more jealous, who knows what’s going on in these people’s heads.
5 Did You tear? Have you healed?
Personal questions only get worse as they’re asked, and no one seems to have shame in asking. No one would walk to someone who has no kids and ask how they’re doing in their pants, why does it seem like a logical or acceptable thing to ask just because someone had a baby? Who knows, but you can bet at least one person will ask if you tore or how bad the damage was. If it’s better now. Like it’s any of their business, or like it’s not a private situation. Maybe they had kids and had a lot of tearing, or zero tearing, and they’re interested for some weird, mildly creepy reason. It’s impossible to know why they’re asking, but they will ask nonetheless.
When asked this embarrassing, prying question, there’s hardly any way to really answer the question and keep your privacy or pride. The best thing is to either tell them it’s private and not something appropriate to discuss, especially at work. Or tell them. In detail. Gross them out, make them regret asking such a rude and gross question. They want to know? Let them know. Most people would rather avoid having to answer the latter way, with complete understanding because it’s a very rude and nasty question to ask. If you can’t share the details, that’s fine. It’s entirely understandable, and you’re in your right to refuse to answer. However, if you can answer in all the gory details, they’ll think twice before asking someone something so personal again.
4 How’d you even afford to have a baby? Did you sell the car?
It’s no secret that babies cost a lot of money to have and raise. Between the hospital trip, diapers, wipes, clothes, and food sources; they cost quite a pretty penny to have. Regardless of if you breastfeed or use a bottle, you have to buy feeding supplies. It costs a lot to keep your kids safe and healthy and well fed, you know it and so do others. Still, it’s unfair of them to question your finances. Sometimes babies just happen, planned or not, financially ready or not. It’s not anyone else’s business how you afford to have a baby, unless they plan to give you money, they shouldn’t even ask. But they will ask anyways, because people are nosy and rude. They want to butt into everything they can, get involved, sometimes for sincere reasons, sometimes just to get nosy. It’s frustrating, but it happens.
The best response is to tell them you’re balancing everything fine. Maybe even say you’re accepting donations of money or diapers, as joking as you can, to give them the idea it’s none of their business and they shouldn’t be asking people those questions. It might not sink in, if they’re giving you the third degree already, they probably won’t catch the hint. But you’ll know, and that might make dealing with it a little easier.
3 Did you breastfeed? It’s better, right?
When pregnant, we consider all of our options to decide what’s best for our coming baby. With everything giving us countless bits of information on what we should or shouldn’t do, it’s a long battle to decide what’s best. Some people bottle feed, maybe they simply think it’s the best for their personal situation, or maybe they can’t make milk like I couldn’t and you have no choice but to use bottles. Many people want to breastfeed, even if it includes pumping and all kinds of unpleasant aspects. But in the end, it’s your choice on what to do, neither are any better than the other. A fed baby is a healthy baby, and in the end that’s all that matters, having a healthy, safe, fed baby.
While it’s your decision and you’ve done your share of looking into the details, someone will inevitably ask you if you’re breastfeeding or not. They’ll also no doubt insist it’s the only good option, swearing formula and bottles are evil and bad. They’ll go on and on about breastfeeding, even if you picked that option already, until you’re tired of hearing their voice. It’s another personal question, really. They’re your breasts and it’s your baby and it’s your call if you breastfeed or bottle feed. Just tell them your baby is regularly fed and very healthy and happy, getting big as they grow and that’s the important part. You don’t have to answer them.
2 Do you plan to pump at work? Have you let the bosses know?
Many women who work also wish to breastfeed, even if it means having to pump on breaks and lunch while at work. It can feel embarrassing or overwhelming to deal with, and that’s before anyone starts questioning you. After asking if you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, they’ll start asking if you’re pumping, then if you’ll be pumping at work. Maybe they did the same thing so they’re curious, maybe they’re immature and grossed out at the idea and want time to prepare or hide from you during pumping time. Maybe it’s something else, who knows. They’ll ask and it’ll be frustrating.
It’s another personal question no one has a right to ask, but as we know well by now, they will ask anyways. It’s so frustrating and bothersome to deal with, and you don’t even have to answer them. Tell them it’s your business and concerns you and your baby only. Or you can tell them if you plan to pump or not, if you don’t mind answering. But don’t feel required to tell them, you don’t owe them an answer, especially for yet another personal question. You can tell them you’re not comfortable talking about it, or it’s not appropriate for work. It’s a private thing that you’ll be doing in private, so what concern is it of theirs?
1 Are you still wearing the mesh underwear?
There will be no end to the amount of personal questions you’ll get when you’re pregnant or after you’ve had the baby. People don’t care, they’re nosy and rude and will ask anyways, despite it not being their business. As bad as it was to ask if you ripped or tore, they’ll also ask if you’re still wearing the oh-so-fashionable mesh undies you get from the hospital. It’s like a bad party gift, a bag full of mesh undies, numbing wipes, pain relief spray, pads, and a nice little water bottle to clean up after going to the bathroom. It’s bad enough to deal with those fun goodies after you give birth, then you get people asking questions about it like it’s not a private and kind of gross aspect of childbirth.
There’s no real tactful way to deal with a rude, prying question like this. No one would really go up to a coworker and ask about their undergarments in other situations, it’s not fair for them to decide you having a baby opens a door for them to ask these questions. The best way to deal with it is to, again, explain it’s not appropriate and you’re not comfortable discussing it, especially while at work. They might get the idea and not ask again, but if they’re already asking, they’ll probably still ask again to someone else at least. It’s ridiculous, but all we can do with these questions is to take a deep breath and try not to let it get to us.