A quarter of mums find maternity leave harder than they expect

Over a quarter of mums did not enjoy their maternity leave as much as they thought they would – according to a poll commissioned for The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live.

maternity rights Working Mums


ComRes questioned over 1,000 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.

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

Younger mums

The poll also paints a picture of younger mums finding maternity leave harder than older mums.

Nearly half (45%) of the mums aged 18-24 who ComRes questioned for the survey, and a third (30%) of the mums aged 34 and under, didn’t enjoy their maternity leave as much as they thought they would.

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

Having a sense of self

Emma Barnett, 5 Live presenter, who is 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 to say you love your new baby, but that you don’t love your new existence yet.”

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