Giving new moms paid leave is essential. But so is helping them return to work

Lauren Reynolds was excited to return to work after having a baby. But she was also terrified to leave her 4-month ol...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 2:47 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 2:47 PM

Lauren Reynolds was excited to return to work after having a baby. But she was also terrified to leave her 4-month old daughter.

"You spend 12 weeks trying to keep the baby alive and function normally," she said. "I was excited and scared for what it meant for me and my family."

Through a phase-back program offered by her employer, advertising agency Leo Burnett Group, Reynolds was allowed to ease back into the workforce. New moms can work at a 60% schedule the first month and 80% the second month. Salaries are adjusted accordingly.

While the reduced schedule is optional, it helped Reynolds figure out her new role of working mom.

"It was hugely beneficial to me mentally so I could feel like I was being an effective mother to my newborn , get comfortable with child care and get reacclimated with my team and projects. I felt I was prepared to step back in 100% after the transition period."

New mom, new life, new reality

Returning to work is hard on new mothers. Even if the plan was always to continue working full time after birth, finding a balance between work and parenting is difficult.

"It can be really hard on a mom to go from staying at home with a newborn who demands a lot of attention, still learning how to breastfeed and not sleeping at night, to go immediately back to work," said Audrey Kingo, senior editor at Working Mother.

Even though the US remains the only developed nation that does not mandate some sort of paid leave to new mothers, companies have increasingly been taking matters into their own hands. They're also adding other benefits like gradual return to work programs, lactation rooms and more flexible schedules.

Other companies like Vodafone and law firm Finnegan and Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner also offer return to work programs. Netflix gives parents a lot of flexibility when returning to work as well. The company offers unlimited paid leave for new parents during the first year, and allows them to return part time, full time, or come and go as needed.

"It's in companies' best interest to have employees 100% committed to doing their jobs to the best of their abilities," said Kingo. "When a mom feels comfortable, she can put in 100% at the time she is at the office."

Leo Burnett has been offering the phase-back program since 2014 and said it's helped give the company an advantage in a competitive market. "It's zero cost to us, only benefit," said Billie Smith, chief talent officer.

Some companies offer flexibility to new mothers if they ask, but experts said it is crucial companies have a formal program.

"A lot of moms are very nervous to ask for more benefits ... the mother penalty is very real," said Kingo. "There is the fear they will hold it against you when it comes time for raises and promotion."

Erin Stach, an attorney in Chicago, remembers being nervous asking for a reduced schedule from her employer when she had her first kid in 2015. "I was absolutely terrified. To be honest, I was terrified to tell him I was pregnant."

She explained to her supervisor that she didn't want to return to a "crazy schedule" and instead cut back to a 70% reduced schedule. The company accommodated her request, and she did the same modified schedule after her second baby.

Making it official

Not having official policies and programs in place for new parents can mean losing workers.

Mother of two Arielle Mir had to negotiate her return-to-work plan after having her first baby in in 2012.

"I for sure had bosses who were understanding and they were accommodating, but it feels different to have official support than just support that you have an understanding manager."

After a while, she decided to look for a job that offered more flexibility.

She accepted a new position with a healthcare technology company that allowed her to work remotely with a more flexible schedule the day before she found out she was having another baby.

"It makes a pretty big difference knowing that there was someone else thinking about how to smooth out the edges. It takes a lot of emotional and mental energy to come back to work and figure out logistics, and when someone says, 'no problem, of course we will do that,' it makes it easier."

The work-life dance can get even more complicated after baby number two. "After the first son, I found it difficult to come back to work," said Lori Mihalich-Levin. "For the second, it was a real struggle." She looked for help online on how to manage the return, but came up empty handed.

So in 2014, she created an organization called Mindful Return, a four-week online program for new parents on how to make the transition as smooth and efficient as possible.

"The transition period is critical," she said. "It takes time to get back into projects."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37210

Reported Deaths: 1495
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12048782
Ramsey4777222
Stearns231219
Dakota224890
Anoka2155107
Nobles16616
Olmsted107615
Washington104840
Mower9322
Rice8277
Scott6844
Clay58037
Kandiyohi5661
Wright4535
Blue Earth4422
Todd4002
Carver3611
Lyon3052
Sherburne3035
Freeborn2890
Steele2231
Watonwan2150
Benton2123
St. Louis17415
Martin1615
Nicollet15512
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1278
Winona12015
Crow Wing10412
Pine1030
Chisago971
Otter Tail921
Le Sueur911
McLeod850
Carlton830
Dodge830
Unassigned8237
Polk812
Chippewa761
Isanti650
Itasca6412
Waseca620
Douglas610
Meeker591
Morrison591
Becker550
Jackson550
Faribault540
Murray540
Sibley532
Pennington510
Mille Lacs342
Brown312
Pipestone311
Wabasha310
Beltrami290
Rock290
Yellow Medicine290
Renville282
Fillmore270
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood170
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Cass142
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Roseau100
Clearwater70
Mahnomen71
Lake60
Hubbard50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30173

Reported Deaths: 718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6275178
Woodbury320144
Black Hawk218058
Buena Vista170511
Linn123882
Johnson12318
Dallas122329
Marshall103519
Story7463
Pottawattamie71911
Scott70410
Wapello70230
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque60922
Sioux4610
Tama45829
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3134
Dickinson2592
Warren2581
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1702
Boone1421
Cerro Gordo1381
Clarke1272
Clay1270
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1110
Clinton1041
Poweshiek1048
Pocahontas931
Carroll911
Bremer906
Des Moines862
Henry853
Franklin840
Cedar801
Taylor790
Emmet780
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd682
Marion680
Hardin650
Guthrie644
Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson580
Osceola580
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Butler522
Buchanan511
Iowa510
Lee502
Monroe506
Hancock490
Calhoun482
Delaware481
Lyon400
Madison402
Clayton393
Davis391
Mills360
Palo Alto360
Winneshiek360
Grundy350
Fayette340
Mitchell340
Kossuth330
Lucas304
Greene280
Howard280
Chickasaw270
Jackson270
Union270
Winnebago270
Ida230
Cass210
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren190
Audubon161
Adair150
Ringgold150
Worth150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne90
Adams80
Fremont70
Unassigned70
Rochester
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Mason City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 68°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Few Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
HOT AND HUMID
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Fans excited for Honkers return

Image

Honkers fall to St. Cloud in home opener

Image

Baseball returns to the Med City

Image

Seans 10pm Weather 7/3

Image

Leaders advocate for the homeless

Image

Fireworks Show During the Pandemic

Image

Pillars of the City Unveiled

Image

A hot day for a bike ride on the Douglas Trail

Image

Sen.Ernst tours homeless shelters, talks challenges

Image

Mask up Roachester Public Service announcement

Community Events