“As a working mom, finding the time to take a break can be a challenge in itself, but just sitting down to enjoy the moment is also incredibly important to me. Hollywood actress Keira Knightley’s sentiments on “over-connectedness” in today’s social media times, as shared in an HT Brunch interview, made me stop and think. She made me think of three things: working mothers, women
constant struggle to create balance, and freedom (or not) of choice. Closer to home, take the example of comedian Bharti Singh. If he had decided to stop working after giving birth, she would have been judged for better or worse. But that she chose to resume work just after 12 days of giving birth to her, she attracted the thieves. For a woman, resuming work after childbirth is viewed through a deep focus lens!
The protests are not surprising given the social conditioning that a woman must rest for at least 40 days after giving birth. This is also called ‘postpartum confinement’. Even medical experts recommend that women give themselves time to heal and recover after pregnancy. But if a woman chooses to go back to work, from her home or from ground zero, let it be her choice.
“Bahut saari working woman hoti hai joh apne ek hafte ke baby ko chhod kar kaam par jaati hai (Many working women go to work leaving their children behind),” laugh queen Bharti said in her response to the trolls, also clarifying that she is making sure the baby is being breastfed.
Even TV actress Debina Bonnerjee, who gave birth to a baby girl in early April, is quite active on her social media page with videos and brand collaborations. Actress Neha Dhupia had also resumed her job just days after her two pregnancies. In fact, when Kareena Kapoor Khan had her second child and resumed her work a month after her delivery, netizens wondered, “Why doesn’t she enjoy maternity leave?”
To them, I ask, “Why is it your business, anyway?” Doesn’t make them less mothers!
Returning to work after childbirth: Is there a right time?
Delving a little deeper into why women are asked to rest for at least 40 days after childbirth, we contacted Dr. Neha Khandelwal, a gynecologist at Rosewalk Hospital, New Delhi.
“After delivery, you may think you’re ready to get back to normal.
life, but you must understand that this is a transition phase in your life
which will require a lot of adjustments,” Dr. Khandelwal told Health Shots.
“Now you will accommodate a new member in your family, you will have to adjust your sleep pattern, you will need to get enough rest to recover. You need to eat healthy and stay hydrated, you need to stay calm and learn the first prerequisite of good parenting: be patient,” he adds.
Most obstetricians would recommend that a woman wait 6-12 weeks before resuming work after giving birth, as this is the time needed to physically and mentally recover from the journey of pregnancy. But not all women need that time.
“Many women also feel comfortable after 6 weeks, as by then the postpartum bleeding has almost stopped and the stitches heal as well. This is valid regardless of the mode of delivery: vaginal or cesarean section”, says the doctor.
What are the side effects of going back to work after giving birth early?
According to Dr. Khandelwal, these are the possible side effects of going back to labor too soon after giving birth, if proper care isn’t provided:
* Extreme fatigue and exhaustion
Exhaustion occurs due to lack of sleep and of course due to the entire process of labor and birth. Going back to work early could make this worse. Therefore, it could also increase the risk of postpartum depression.
It can cause bonding problems with the baby. It could also cause difficulty
in the establishment of exclusive breastfeeding and it is often seen that working women end up too soon starting artificial or formula feeding.
Postpartum recovery can vary from woman to woman
A woman’s postpartum recovery depends on her physical and emotional health
“If you have had a balanced diet and exercised well during pregnancy, you have had a low-risk pregnancy with minimal or no complications, your recovery would be faster,” the expert concedes.
Precautions for resuming work after early delivery
If a woman decides to resume work soon after giving birth, certain precautions must be taken.
1. In the event that you have to return to work early, talk to your doctor and let them assess your readiness for work.
2. In case your employer allows a return to part-time work or part-time work from home, go for this option as this will give you more time to settle down with your little one. And it will also help you establish yourself as a working mother.
3. As a new mom, don’t hesitate to ask your family for help if you decide to go back to work early.
Having taken note of these points from Dr. Khandelwal, it is safe to say that at the end of the day, to work or not to work, to take a break or to start work immediately after giving birth, the choice is all yours. Just choose carefully and cautiously!