How long should maternity leave last? Presenter Alex Jones talks regret at returning to work too quickly

Alex Jones has opened up about the realities of being a working mum [Photo: PA Images]
Alex Jones has opened up about the realities of being a working mum [Photo: PA Images]

Alex Jones thinks she went back to work too soon after giving birth to her son, Teddy, last year.

‘The One Show’ host became a first-time mum in January 2017, but just three months later had returned to her presenting role.

Opening up about the realities of being a working mother on the ‘Happy Mum Happy Baby’ podcast, the 41-year-old told host Giovanna Fletcher: “I went back too soon. I was still trying to feed going back to work.”

“After the meeting I’d try and express, then go into the rehearsal, and go back and try and express a little bit more, and my milk was in the fridge with all the food being given to the guests! I was like, this is not working, this is a nightmare.”

The new mum also spoke candidly about the realities of combining her return to work with breastfeeding her baby.

“I’d sit on the sofa and the titles would start playing and I’d feel this stain start coming through the dress and I’d think, ‘Oh no, this is awful’. I thought, ‘I really hope people out there will understand what’s happened here.’”

“Of course, you can imagine, there were some comments that were really upsetting to read but there’s nothing I could do about it,” she continued.

And Alex revealed that the difficulties lead to her making the decision to stop combination feeding (a mixture of breast and formula feeding) Teddy and switch to bottle feeding.

“It destroyed my confidence in terms of trying to feed and be back at work,” she explains.

“So by four months I had to give in to formula completely. I was combining but it just wasn’t working.”

The TV personality also opened up about another tricky subject that many working mums will relate to – feeling jealous of the person who looks after your child while you’re at work.

For Alex it was feeling envious of her baby’s nanny, Jess: “Jess is a ­brilliant girl and we couldn’t do without her,” she explained. “She’s wonderful in so many ways and we love her, however there is still that feeling that I want to be doing the things that she’s doing with Teddy.”

“And it’s really tough. I remember the one where he crawled for the first time and she’d sent a video of it to Charlie and I.

“And both of us were crestfallen, thinking – I wanted to see it!”

But Alex knows that missing out on certain baby milestones is a reality many new parents may have to accept.

“It’s a reality that all parents face, isn’t it? You can’t be there 24 hours a day.”

According to Worksmart an employer is not permitted to allow new mothers to work for a two-week period which starts with the date their baby is born. This is known as compulsory maternity leave.

Mothers who work in a factory, will be not be able to resume work for four weeks after giving birth.

After that period, it is up to the mother to decide when they want to return to work.

For mothers who are still breastfeeding when they return to work Maternity Action has some advice about the transition including finding childcare close to your workplace, so you can breastfeed your baby during breaks, expressing breast milk for your baby at work and partially breastfeeding, which means that you breastfeed your baby when you are at home but the baby is given formula milk while you are at work.

The NCT advises that while the law does not give a specific right to time off for breastfeeding you do have some health and safety protection and the right to ask for changes to your working hours.

“It is important to talk to your employer before returning to work so that you know what facilities are available and what adjustments need to be made,” the site advises.

It isn’t the first time the TV presenter has opened up about motherhood. Earlier this month she revealed that her breastfeeding journey was more painful than she’d imagined.

“I tried really hard to breastfeed, but I had no idea it would be so excruciatingly painful. Often I’d be feeding with tears cascading down my cheeks,” she told You magazine.

The popular personality also spoke candidly about the effect parenthood had on her relationship with her husband, Charlie.

“Charlie is a fantastic support and now I think our relationship is a lot stronger because of Ted, but we struggled to find a way to even like each other sometimes in those early days,” she told the publication.

“Once I sat upstairs in our bedroom for about four hours trying to feed Ted, feeling so upset and isolated.

“Or there would be nights when I was waking to feed Ted every two hours; Charlie would be snoring beside me while I felt murderous.

“It’s not your partner’s fault he can’t breastfeed, but it’s tough.”

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