Reflections on Maternity Leave, by Char Sutton

Becoming a mum, and having the last 12 months to focus on this journey, has been a privilege. It has been full of moments of wonder and joy; but, without a doubt, also one of the toughest challenges I have faced.
Coping with mental and physical exhaustion (the newborn stage is no joke!), assimilating 'mum' into my identity, and experiencing extreme highs and lows. As I return to work I have been reflecting on the past year and what, from a workplace wellbeing perspective, has helped me to stay well and navigate the wild adventure of parenthood.

  • Role-modelling: from the leaders and fellow parents in my team on how to manage the blend of home and work life, and prioritising health and family over work. Honest and vulnerable sharing of the vast array of experiences that come with having kids has naturally created a safe space where all feelings are valid, and will be met with understanding and empathy.
  • Handover: being closely involved in the hire of my maternity covers and having enough time to do a thorough handover meant I felt calm and supported during my final weeks, and confident that my clients and projects were in safe hands.
  • Private healthcare: just knowing this was available provided peace of mind, and when I needed support while on maternity leave I was able to use this valuable benefit to access it easily and quickly.
  • Clear communication: and respect for my preferences on touch points. Making sure I could attend our Quarterly Business Reviews to be updated on the big picture and key projects, as well as attending team socials for much needed connection time was really important to me. Dates were organised in advance and I was kept in the loop about what mattered to me.
  • Supportive manager: needless to say your manager plays a huge role in your experience at work. For me, having a manager who has taken the time to understand me as a person, how I work best, and the value I add has been invaluable. Having a few 1:1 calls while I was off created space for me to ask questions, air any concerns, and for us to check that the keep in touch plan still worked on both sides.
  • On-boarding: I have received such a warm welcome on my return, without an instant list of deliverables and targets. Although I have been itching to get back, this has been planned at a gentle pace which is allowing me to process the emotional load of my sweet baby boy starting nursery alongside getting myself back up to speed and adding value in a way that doesn't feel overwhelming.

Throughout everything it has been clear to me I am valued, respected, and seen as a person - not just an employee. This speaks to the culture and values that have been thoughtfully and intentionally cultivated at Kamwell, and I am very fortunate to be part of such a brilliant team.