Maternity leave harder than expected, survey reveals

By Hollie Ewers on 16 November 2018 Breastfeeding Maternity Leave Employment

More than a quarter of mums (27%) did not enjoy their maternity leave as much as they thought they would a poll commissioned for The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live has shown.

ComRes questioned 1021 women who’d been on maternity leave in the past 10 years, and found that nearly half (47%) felt lonely while on maternity leave.

Nearly one in five mums (19%) wished they’d gone back to work earlier, and two in five (41%) missed being at work.

A quarter (27%) found it more difficult to bond with their baby than they initially thought, and half (49%) felt obliged to be positive about spending time with their baby.

More than half (54%) found breastfeeding more difficult than they thought they would. 

The poll reveals that younger mums are finding maternity leave harder than older mums with nearly half (45%) of the mums aged 18 to 24 and a third (30%) of the mums aged 34 and under, saying that they didn’t enjoy their maternity leave as much as they thought they would. 

Nearly three in five (59%) mums aged 18 to 24 said they felt lonely, and nearly two in five (38%) mums aged 18 to 24 wished they’d gone back to work earlier.

5 Live presenter Emma Barnett, who is herself returning to radio presenting this week after eight months maternity leave, said: ‘I have had some of the loveliest and more memorable times of my life during my maternity leave. But it’s still been bloody hard, and, at times, lonely.

‘As the one at the home, you struggle to have a sense of self; to remember who you were; and what you thought about before your child came along.

‘There should be no guilt in saying you find maternity leave hard; that you don’t enjoy every single second with your child; and that it’s exhausting. It’s OK to say you love your new baby, but that you don’t love your new existence yet,’ she said.