Meghan is rumoured to be taking only three months maternity leave - we ask a GP what she can expect

25th Apr 19 | Lifestyle

What is going back to work early like on a new mother's body, three months post-partum?

Duchess of Sussex pregnancy

Rumours about the Duchess of Sussex’s impending childbirth have ranged from claims she’ll raise the child gender neutral, to wild speculation that it’s twins. The latest is that Meghan plans to take just three months maternity leave, according to The Sun.

The paper says a royal source revealed that the duchess, who is due to give birth any day now, has “made it very clear she wants to return to work as soon as possible.” The source told The Sun: “She’s pencilled in three months – but she’ll most likely return to public life in six weeks – on the Queen’s official birthday.”

Often new mums take nine months to a year in the UK and Ireland, but three months is actually pretty common in the US.

Duchess of Sussex pregnancy
(Chris Jackson/PA)

But is it tough on your body returning to work so soon? We asked Dr Clare Morrison, GP for online doctor and pharmacy MedExpress, about what Meghan – if she does take a short maternity leave – and other new mums, can expect three months post-partum.

Is it possible?

“From a health point of view, there shouldn’t be a problem with returning to work after three months, provided the mother is fit and well, and there is reliable, consistent childcare,” says Morrison. “I personally only had two and a half weeks off with my first-born, so I know it can be done, though I wouldn’t necessarily advise it for everyone.

“By this stage, the mother’s body will usually have recovered from the birth, even after a caesarean. It would be rare for any complications to be severe enough to still be causing significant problems.”

Duchess of Sussex on International Women’s Day
(Yui Mok/PA)

What if a new mum is breastfeeding?

“Breastfeeding could be very difficult, or impossible, once the mother has returned to work,” says Morrison. “It will depend on her working hours and whether or not she can still be near enough to the baby to feed regularly.

“Most jobs make it impossible to breastfeed during working hours, though it may be possible to  express milk to be used later. This wouldn’t be particularly easy, and most women who return to work tend to opt for formula milk at that point, if they aren’t doing so already.”

Doesn’t it all depend on how much help you have?

“The length of time a mother typically takes off after birth varies a great deal, depending on the woman’s wishes, where she lives, what job she does, whether there are any health issues in mother or baby, and how much help she has,” says Morrison. “Returning to work after just three months will require help, planning and organisation.”

Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit to Morocco – Day 3
(Facundo Arrizabalaga/PA)

What else should Meghan bear in mind? 

“Advantages of work include boosting the mother’s confidence, giving her a break from the baby, and stopping her feeling isolated,” says Morrison. “That’s not to say it won’t also be stressful, particularly if already feeling tired, emotional, and sleep-deprived. There is the worry about finding childcare that she trusts, and missing the baby during those crucial early months, when they start to be become more socially aware, and attached to the important people in their life.”

Any advice for making going back to work after three months more manageable?

“Mothers can make this easier by limiting their working hours to a manageable length, and not taking on too many other commitments. They could get help with other chores, so that, at least when they’re home, they can spend precious time with the baby. This presumably wouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Duchess of Sussex!

“Sleep deprivation can make the mother feel exhausted and depressed, making work even more difficult, so if possible, it’s great if someone else can step in, at least some of the time.

“It also helps to have a healthy diet, including plenty of fish, salads and veg; and exercise regularly, for example, a brisk 30 minute walk, every day.”

© Press Association 2019

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