There has been a lot of focus on loneliness and isolation at work in relation to remote...read more
As we celebrate International Mental Health Day, workingmums.co.uk speaks to Meg Murray Jones about how her organisation Postpartum Plan supports parents’ bodies and minds after giving birth and returning to work.
For most women the period after childbirth is characterised by a mixture of physical, mental and emotional upheaval. Yet support for many women returning to work, where it exists, tends to ignore the emotional side.
That’s where Postpartum Plan steps in. Founded by mother of three Meg Murray Jones it aims to revolutionise postpartum support and is the result of a long journey. Meg was working in the corporate world in a very female friendly company when she had her first child. The birth was traumatic and left her feeling very anxious and unable to cope with day to day issues. She says: “We think giving time and money is all people need, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to good emotional and physical recovery.”
Meg quit her job after her traumatic birth and took up reflexology. “I saw amazing pregnant women coming and then as soon as they had their baby all their focus was on the baby. As a society we tend to see birth as the end of the story,” she states. That excludes return to work and access to the right physical and emotional support to thrive after the birth.
In lockdown Meg started thinking about all the women who were giving birth in pandemic conditions, often isolated from family, and about the long-term emotional impact of that. She believes the Covid birth experience combined with the mental and physical impact of giving birth is behind some of the increase in women leaving the workplace in the last year or so.
Meg decided to do something about it so she set up Postpartum Plan in 2021 and it has snowballed since then. Postpartum Plan [PP], which focuses on late pregnancy through to return to work and beyond, has five pillars, from nutrition and movement to recovery and reflection, but the most popular is mindset. For Meg, emotional recovery comes first. “When it comes to work, it’s not just about going back to work, but how you feel about it,” she says.
Meg herself became a member of PP when she had her youngest child Peggy, who is 10 months old. She says she feels stronger physically and mentally as a result.
The programme includes expert advice including a sleep coach for parents, yoga, positive psychologists, a postpartum doula, parenting coaches, nutritionists for everyone in the family and a back to work coach. Parents can buy membership individually at a cost of £30 a month or employers can gift it to their employees.
Meg has been working to get more employers on board. They buy membership for a year which they then give to employees going on parental leave, including adoption and surrogacy leave. The programme is deliberately gender neutral, with only the recovery pillar being solely for women. Members get access to videos, podcasts, recipes, a weekly live session with experts [through the Postpartum village which adds a community support aspect] and a toolbox including a massage ball and a book on postpartum recovery. Meg sometimes gets involved with her employer clients and takes part in Q & A sessions. One dad fed back that his baby came early and he and his partner won’t prepared so the PP helped them a lot. There is also training for senior leadership which aims to raise awareness about the return to work journey, including the potential physical and mental challenges. Meg cites high retention rates for those who sign up and good feedback.
She runs the whole enterprise from home, but has support from a social media manager and communications expert. She says the organisation is on the cusp of massive growth as more employers join up, seeing the link between retention and support. Employers she has worked with so far include law firm Fieldfisher and women’s health company Hertility.
Meg admits it has been hard graft getting the Postpartum Plan up and running. And she adds that it’s not enough in today’s volatile marketplace to say the programme is good for employee wellbeing. Employers need data about how it will impact their bottom line and she has been researching that data.
Employers who sign up get an accredited badge which they can display on their website and some choose to press release their membership. That matters as Meg says Generation Z and millennials are actively looking for companies that support them both in and outside work. She adds: “Companies often spend on flowers and muffins which, not only are not good for parents, but don’t make the tangible difference to their lives that Postpartum Plan does.”