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Going back to work after maternity or paternity leave

You will need to spend time planning before you go back to work after maternity or paternity leave.

This will:

  • help make sure your child is well looked after
  • make returning to work easier

You may decide to spend time at home with your baby or you may want or need to return to work after giving birth. The most important thing is that, whatever you decide, it suits you and your family.

Organise childcare in advance

Give yourself plenty of time to organise who will look after your child before you go back to work. You will be more confident to go back to work when you are happy with your childcare arrangements.

It's not always easy to make childcare arrangements, and it may take you some time. There are resources and supports available.

Contact your local County Childcare Committee (CCC) for support in choosing the right childcare options for you.

Where is my nearest CCC? -

Your childcare options -

Budget for childcare costs

Good quality childcare can be expensive. You will need to budget for this when you return to work.

There are subsidies available through the National Childcare Scheme to help you with childcare costs.

The National Childcare Scheme -

Adjusting to your new routine

It can be difficult to be away from your child or leave them with someone else. This is a big transition for you and your child and it may be stressful.

There are things you can do to make the transition easier.


  • introduce your child to your childminder or creche in advance - this helps your child get used to their new environment

  • ask your childminder or creche about their settling in policy - they should be flexible

  • practice dropping off and collecting your child before going back to work

  • talk about any feelings you may have such as guilt or sadness

Separation anxiety in children

If you're still breastfeeding

Try and get your baby used to taking milk from a bottle or a cup before you return to work.

If you decide to express breast milk during the day, consider how you are going to pump and store the milk while at work.

Breastfeeding when returning to work

Share the housework

If you have a partner, agree on the household chores that will need to be done if you are both working.

Look at what jobs you can share and plan in advance. This could include planning outfits for you and your child or batch cooking meals.

This will make it easier to return to work.

Spend quality time with your child

Make sure you have good quality time to spend with your child. This can be difficult when you are exhausted after a day at work and when your child is tired too.

You can:

  • dedicate some time after you pick your child up from their childminder or creche - even if it is only 15 to 20 minutes
  • start the bedtime routine at your usual time
  • take your time bathing them and reading to them

Bonding with your baby during bath time

Reading with your baby

Ease yourself back into work

You may feel worried about going back to work. This transition can be difficult, so try to go easy on yourself.

If you are able to, consider easing yourself back into work.

You can:

  • build up to a full-time week by using parental leave or annual leave to help you and your child settle into your new routine
  • connect with other parents of young children in your workplace

Page last reviewed: 5 April 2023
Next review due: 5 April 2026