Returning to Work After a Pregnancy Loss: What You Need to Know

If you have recently been through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other pregnancy loss, you are likely dealing with a wide range of emotions. You are trying to deal with your grief while also returning to your “normal” way of life. You have likely taken some time off of work, but must eventually face the idea of returning to work after your pregnancy loss. The thought of returning to work can be difficult and hard to process. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the things you need to know when returning to work after a pregnancy loss.

Here are a few things you should know as you navigate this new normal. The first and most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to feel about going back to work. The decision to return to work has many factors and is not just a straight forward answer for every person. Some may feel they need to take some time off of work and spend time working through their grief. Others you may find that being back at work is a nice distraction. There is no wrong answer, so do what feels right for you.

What Factors Should I Consider About Returning To Work After A Pregnancy Loss?

Your physical recovery: After a loss, you may need more time to recover physically. If you had a c-section or any other complications, it is important to give your body the time it needs to heal before returning to work.

Your mental health: As we mentioned before, you may not feel emotionally ready to return to work. It is important to consider your mental health and if returning to work is going to be too stressful for you.

Your occupation: Consider if your job is going to be a good fit for you after a loss. Will it be too difficult emotionally? Do you have the support you need at work? Is there anything about your job that may be triggering?

Your financial situation: Returning to work may also have an effect on your financial situation. Are you eligible for any leave or benefits? Do you have any paid time off or will it all be unpaid?

Your support level: Are your coworkers and management supportive? Will they create issues for you regarding your pregnancy loss and return to work? Will they give you space to heal or expect you to resume your former job immediately?

Woman sitting on the floor in front of a couch and working on a computer.  Returning to work after pregnancy loss.

When Should I Return to Work After a Pregnancy Loss?

The timing of when you decide to return to work after a loss can be based off of many different factors. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:

How much paid time off (PTO) do you have?

Can you afford to take unpaid time off?

Are you feel emotionally ready to return?

Do you feel you have physically healed enough to return?

Do you want to return to the same job or find a different job?

These are just some of the many questions you may be asking yourself when thinking of returning to work after a pregnancy loss. You can also speak with your doctor to see if they have any recommendations on when you should return to work.

Many women have to return to work before they may fully be ready. This can be due to not having enough PTO or not being able to afford taking unpaid time. Others may fear they will lose their job if they do not return quickly enough. It is important to remember that you have a right to grieve and heal after a pregnancy loss. If you feel like you need more time, be sure to speak up and advocate for yourself.

If you have a physically demanding job, you may not feel physically ready to return. Try asking if you can take on a less physically demanding role until you are fully healed if you cannot afford to take the unpaid time off.

If you have the option, try asking to work at home for a bit before returning to the office. This will give you a chance to get back into the routine without the pressure of being around your coworkers.

What Should I Tell My Coworkers About My Pregnancy Loss?

What you choose to share with your coworkers is completely up to you and the information you feel comfortable sharing. If you do not want to talk about it or be bombarded with questions, ask your manager to tell people ahead of time. They can then request ahead of time that your coworkers respect your privacy.

If you do feel open to sharing, feel free to talk about your baby and your loss experience with your coworkers. Only share the information you are ready to talk about and do not feel obligated to give any more details than what you are ready to give.

Some women feel more comfortable talking about their experience with people who have also gone through a pregnancy loss. If there are coworkers you know that have been through a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other loss, try talking to them about their experience and how they approached returning to work.

You may be close with your coworkers or may be more distant. This may mean you share more information with the coworkers you are closer to and less or no information with the coworkers you are more distant with. No matter your relationship with them, know that you do not have to share anything you are not ready to share.

Women working on computers and sitting around a conference table.  Returning to work after miscarriage.

What If I Feel Emotionally Unprepared To Return To Work?

If you are feeling emotionally unprepared to return to work, there are a few things you can do to help yourself feel more prepared.

Talk to your doctor: You can always speak with your doctor about how you are feeling. They likely have a recommendation on when you should return to work.

Create or join a support group: There are many support groups available for women who have experienced a pregnancy loss. This can be an excellent way to share your experiences with other women and to help you feel less alone. You can learn how other women have approached the idea of returning to work after their pregnancy loss.

Talk to a therapist: If you are struggling to cope with your emotions, talking to a therapist can be very helpful. They can help you work through your emotions and can give you tools to help you cope with your grief.

Take your time: Returning to work does not have to be an immediate decision. If you do not feel ready, talk to your boss or manager about taking a few extra days or weeks before returning.

Changing Jobs After a Pregnancy Loss

After a loss, there are some people who decide they do not want to return to their old job. This can be for many reasons, like feeling unsupported after a loss, dealing with unpleasant memories or grief, working with children or another place that may be difficult to face after a loss, or many other reasons.

If you have decided that you do not want to return to your old job, that is okay. You can start by looking for a new job that may be a better fit for you. When searching for a new job, look for places that may be more understanding of your loss or offer more support. You may simply wish to start over in a place that does not know about your loss and where you do not have to talk about it.

After we lost our daughter, Jasmine, at 32 weeks, I went back to the same job. Things were different after the loss and it did not seem to be a good fit anymore. My boss and I both agreed that I would need to start looking for another job. I was able to find one and start over in a fresh place that did not know about my loss. I told people at my new job on my own timeline. It was just what I needed after the loss.

Woman wearing a hardhat and working on a piece of machinery.  Going back to work after a pregnancy loss.

Other Job Options After Pregnancy Loss

If you decide you do not want to return to the same job, or a similar job, there are other options you could try. You may want to take some time off and decide what you want to do next. This can be a difficult decision, so take the time you need to think about the things you would really like to do.

Try starting your own business doing something you enjoy. Perhaps you have a hobby you could turn into a business. This can be a great way to have more control over your work environment and hours.

If you have always wanted to try something different, this may be the time to do it. Going through a pregnancy loss is a traumatic experience and can be the perfect time for a new beginning related to your work. It can show you that life is short and you do not want to waste it doing things you do not enjoy.

Take some time to decide what is best for you. You may find that returning to your former work is the best decision for you, or you may decide that now is the time for a change.

Two women are working in an industrial kitchen.

Take your time in making the decision to return to work. There is no right or wrong answer and what works for one person may not work for another. Consider all of the factors we mentioned and make the decision that is best for you. Make sure you have a support system in place if you need someone to talk to. Most importantly, be sure to advocate and speak up about the things you need.

If you have experienced a pregnancy loss and are returning to work, we would love to hear from you. What worked for you? What did not work? Let us know in the comments below.

You may also be interested in:

How to Honor Your Baby’s Birthday After a Pregnancy Loss

How to Respond to Hurtful Comments After a Pregnancy Loss

7 Ways To Reconnect With Your Partner After A Pregnancy Loss

15 Songs About Baby Loss

24 Books to Read After a Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Pregnancy Loss

A to Z Emotions of Pregnancy Loss: Understanding the Grief Process

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