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Returning to work after maternity leave

Post maternity leave must-knows before heading back to work

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Post maternity leave must-knows before heading back to work

Drawing from our extensive expert advice and product tests, here are five key things to consider in the lead-up to your first day back.


Returning to work after maternity leave is a shock to the system. There are no doubt a million concerns swirling around in your mind about the logistics of it all, so we’ve compiled a cheat sheet of suggestions to make the return to work a smoother process. 

Find good childcare

Childcare is at the top of the list for a reason: this will be arguably the biggest hurdle in returning to work, and you’ve probably already started thinking about it. To help you decode the complex and expensive world of childcare, we’ve got a series of guides on your options plus everything you need to know about childcare vouchers, should you decide to use them.

Compare the cost of childcare and read our guide to childcare vouchers.

Have a backup plan

More childcare

Tracking down plan A for childcare can be hard enough, but make sure you also secure a plan B, and C, so that you’re (almost) never scrambling around at the last minute for childminding options.

Extra child car seat

It's a good idea to have a spare in case you need to call in backup on the childcare run, or for the childminder to have in his or her car so there’s no need to hand the one car seat back and forth. 

Browse Best Buy child car seats and Don’t Buy child car seats to avoid.

Digital thermometer

A digital thermometer will let you know instantly if your baby has a temperature and needs extra attention or a trip to the doctor. You can then make arrangements with your workplace if need be (or call in that childcare backup plan). Remember, as an employee you’re allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.

Read more on how to buy the best digital thermometer and discover parents' verdicts of the more popular models.

Get organised on the go

You’ll be running around a lot, so having a few portable tools to hand can cut out a lot of extra back and forth.

Breast pump

The Health and Safety Executive recommends that it's good practice for employers to provide a private, healthy and safe environment for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk. Note: the work toilets don’t count.

Electronic breast pumps tend to be more popular with parents, although they are the more expensive option. See what might suit you best in our breast pump reviews.

Baby changing bag (a new one)

According to our survey of parents, baby changing bags are one of the most useful baby products you can buy. You probably already have one, but going back to work could be the ideal time to update yours, as they're indispensable for organising all the bits and pieces you need when splitting your time between home and office. Check out popular baby changing bags to refresh yours and treat yourself.

Lightweight stroller

Fold it up and throw it in the boot in case you need it for picking up or dropping off your little one at childcare.

Check out our Best Buy pushchairs, including lightweight options, in our pushchair reviews section.


A tablet is a useful digital PA for busy working mothers. Which? tablet expert Adam Marshall says: ‘Whether you’re an iPad or Android user, there’s an array of handy tablet apps that can make your life as a new parent easier – from those that help you schedule all aspects of your baby’s care, to apps that assist in coming up with tasty meals for you and your new family.’ But beware of technology tying you to the office 24/7.

For help navigating the crowded tech market, have a look at our tablet reviews.

Know your rights

As a new mother returning to work, you have certain rights that are protected by law. Find out all about your options and the benefits you are entitled to in our guide to your rights when returning to work after maternity leave.

Make quick work of housework

Keeping the home (relatively) in check needn’t be too much of a chore. New mums and dads can enlist the help of the internet and a few nifty appliances to tackle dinner time and dirty laundry.

Online grocery shopping

The saviour for busy parents. But how do you know you're getting the best value as you click? Each month we compare the average price of between 80 and 100 popular food and grocery products to find out which supermarket offers best value. Browse our supermarket prices compared to find your best-value option.

Slow cooker

When you’re running in between work, childcare, home – and anywhere else – the thought of having an easy option for dinner is very appetising indeed. No matter your level of prowess in the kitchen, or the tightness of your budget, you can chuck all your ingredients into a slow cooker in the morning and have a nice stew waiting for you in the evening. See all our Best Buy slow cookers and a guide to the features you might want over at our slow cooker reviews.

Mini blender

Use a Nutribullet-style mini blender to whip up easy single portions of breakfast to go, or a quick and nutritious snack to battle the energy slumps. You can even make batches of purées for your baby. Pop the jug in your bag for wherever you're heading and easily clean it when you’re done.

Is the Nutribullet worth it? We compare this most popular blender to cheaper rivals.

Washer dryer

This new little person in your household creates more than its fair share of extra laundry – enter a washer-dryer that can assist you by combining two jobs in one machine. We’ve got a rundown of the best washer-dryers on the market in our washer dryer reviews.