Our mummy experts
Joanne Lim, 35, marketing and business development manager; mum of a six- and two-year-old, and a newborn
Angela Poh, 35, regional communications manager; mum of a ﬁve- and two-year-old
Ann Neo, 37, graphic designer; mum of a two-and-a-half-year-old
Bhavana Gupta, 37, marketing professional; mum of an eight- and six-year-old
Loh Hsian Ming, 37, director of a public relations agency; mum of an eight- and three-year-old
Roslyn Monteiro, 32, accountant; mum of a three-year-old
1. PREP FOR IT
From packing breast pumps to planning for the unexpected, it’s a family affair when mums go back to work.
“Besides packing my breast pump, it is also about dealing with all the things that can happen in the morning before I leave for work – my clothes might get soiled while handling my baby or my preschooler might have a meltdown.” – Joanne Lim
“I wanted my girls to be exclusively breastfed so I made sure to express my milk whenever possible to make sure my daughter had a ready supply while I was at work. We also had to get her accustomed to being bottle-fed by her granny, who’s her main caregiver during the day. After I had my second child, we had to change our routine as we decided to send our older daughter to childcare a few days before I returned to work. This was to help her get into the groove of school and so I could get used to the change in timings and routine.” – Angela Poh
2. YOUR PRIORITIES WILL SHIFT
For many mums, their attitude towards work and overtime will see adjustments as they make room for their new responsibilities.
“After my second child, I opted for a role without regional responsibilities so I wouldn’t have to travel. And as my kids grow up, I have been upfront with my supervisors that family-life balance is important and working long hours on a regular basis is something I am not keen on.” – Bhavana Gupta
“I couldn’t work as late as I had to pick my daughter up from my in-laws’ and spend time with her, or take the day off when she fell ill. She became my priority, which meant I had to work smart to get things done within ofﬁce hours.” – Ann Neo
3. EXPRESSING AND STORING MILK
Incorporating this into your workday can be tricky, but it can be done with a bit of creativity and good time management.
“There were no nursing rooms at the companies I worked at; the only place I could express my milk was in meeting rooms, which weren’t conducive, so I ended up supplementing with formula milk.” – Bhavana
“Timing was an issue as I couldn’t keep excusing myself to express my breast milk. Gradually, I spent less time doing this as my supply dwindled or I was too busy to take time out. “I used to store my milk in opaque containers, which I labelled, as I ﬁgured some colleagues may feel uncomfortable seeing bags of breast milk next to their can of coke or iced coffee. It’s ideal if your workplace has nursing rooms, or else it can be tricky ﬁnding a place to pump.” – Joanne
4. DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF
With so much to grapple with, this is the time to cut yourself some slack so you don’t get too overwhelmed.
“Take care of yourself and be sure to have regular timeouts even if it’s just 10 minutes.” – Bhavana
“Take it one step at a time.” – Ann
“I have come round to the fact that it’s hard and perhaps impossible to achieve a work-life balance. At times, I’m a better mother and at others, I’m a better worker. Being able to admit this makes it easier for me to accept the reality of my life now, where it is hard to keep everything under control.” – Loh Hsian Ming
“It’s about managing expectations. Try not to be overwhelmed as things will pile up and it doesn’t help if you don’t get your act together. I always remind myself to conquer one thing at a time.” – Joanne
What was the biggest challenge of going back to work after having a baby?
“I had supportive supervisors but at times, it was the perception of colleagues that was challenging. I felt I had to put in extra effort to ‘show’ that being a mother was not affecting my work.” – Bhavana
“Waking up in the middle of the night to feed my baby and preparing for work earlier than usual, yet having to be productive and alert at work.” – Ann
“I had to be more effective on less sleep and rest, given that I still had to manage night feeds and wake up on time to get to work. There were also more chores to reckon with after work. All in all, there was much more to be done in the same number of hours in a day, but on much less sleep.” – Hsian Ming
“I had to express my breast milk during lunchtime so my social life in the ofﬁce took a hit as I kept turning down lunch invitations.” – Angela
“Working overtime. It’s hard to be away from my newborn so the real challenge here is time. I guess that’s why many mums are willing to bring work home and continue working after they’ve settled their infants.” – Joanne
“Having to deal with the ‘guilt’ of not being with my baby 24/7 and possibly missing out on important milestones.” – Roslyn Monteiro