Deciding when to return to paid work is unique to every woman. There are a number of familial, professional and financial considerations that will come into play. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Consider childcare options

Looking into childcare is something you could start doing before the birth. Some women may find this reassuring in terms of future planning. You may find that many childcare centres have waitlists (some waitlists are 6-12 months). So getting ahead is a great idea! Talk to friends and family in and around your area and organise some tours, where you pop in and have a poke around the facility. You’ll get an instant feeling if the centre is right for you.

In terms of fees, have a chat with each facility (fees can vary centre to centre, state to state) and find out if you're eligible for any government subsidies. You may also want to ask each centre if they have a minimum in terms of how many days your child is enrolled. A two day minimum is not uncommon.

Consider parental leave

Have a look at your employment contract when you fall pregnant and assess your parental leave clause and entitlements. Your employer may offer a period of paid leave (they also may not), which means you’ll have some money coming in during the early days with your new baby.

On top of this, investigate if you’re eligible for the Paid Parental Leave government payments which can be paid to whoever assumes the role of the primary carer within the household. If you’re a freelancer, just be wary that the government will usually only grant you Paid Parental Leave if you’re working 0 hours of paid work. Every household is circumstantial, so give CentreLink a call to discuss your personal situation.

Returning to paid work while breastfeeding

If you decide to return to paid work while you’re still breastfeeding comes with additional considerations, including how and where you’ll pump and store your breastmilk, and the time it will take to have these breaks in your day.

To start, invest in the right equipment including a portable, comfortable pump, the right clothing (comfortable maternity bras and outfits that grant easy boob access) and a decent supply of nursing pads (just in case of a leak). You’ll also need milk storage bags and a fridge to store it in.

You can discuss with your employer and/or perhaps other female colleagues who are also mothers about how to most comfortably accommodate your expressing needs.

If you’re interested in reading about lived experiences, below is a list of stories from women in the community who returned to paid work.

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