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Experiences of women returning to work after maternity leave

With an increase in the number of women in the workforce, numerous studies have looked at the importance of parental leave and benefits of cash, predictors of postpartum depression, and how they affect women, handling work-family conflict, family friendly policies and many more. Of particular interest for many working women is research looking at working mothers and the issues that have an impact on mothers. Longer duration of leave has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits for the mother and the child, such as mother-infant attachment. Similarly, workplace support and work-life balance were found beneficial for working mothers. This study investigates factors such as work-life balance, social support, length of maternity leave and mental health. It explores both the positive and negative impacts these factors have on mothers and their babies once mothers return to work. The study used a qualitative methodology, interviewing 11 working mothers. The participants had returned to work within the last three years, some as recent as four weeks, at the time of the interview. Participants had at least one child under the age of four. The sample of working mothers included most of the mothers working full-time, some working part-time and one mother working as self-employed. Template analysis was used to analyze the interview transcripts. Analysis revealed that working mothers returned to work for myriad reasons after having been on government aided maternity leave. Work-life balance policies like reduced hours and returning part-time initially for some mothers were found along with an understanding supervisor and supportive colleagues. In conclusion, working mothers desired longer leave citing their need to bond with the baby as one of the reason. Mothers had satisfactory support from family, friends and workplace. In addition to the government mandated parental leave policies, working mothers found a lack of information on any additional policies offered by their organizations and preferred more communication on them.
Type of thesis
Sriram, D. (2017). Experiences of women returning to work after maternity leave (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11784
The University of Waikato
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