Many mums who return to work after having a baby feel guilty and find being a working parent tough.

While new figures show 64% of mums are now in employment, research suggests more than three-quarters (80%) of these feel guilty about going back to work after having a baby, worrying about leaving their child in the care of others.

But, as Mandy Garner, editor of, rightly argues: "Guilt is a bit of a useless emotion if you can't do anything to change things.

"Finding the right childcare to fit around your work patterns, negotiating flexible working or finding a new flexible job, and planning ahead for emergencies, like who takes time off when a child's sick - these are all things you can do to help reduce the guilt."

She says: "It's very hard to go from an extended period of doing something entirely different from your day job to returning to work.

"Many women find their confidence is affected, but once they're back at work they usually pick up the reins pretty quickly. After all, it's often something they've done for many years.

"What is new is coping with the dual role of working and being a parent. Guilt gets a lot of press and it's definitely an emotionally turbulent time."

She says many women rethink their values and priorities after having a baby, and find it hard to move from being at home with the baby for months and then leaving them for up to 10 hours a day.

"For many women though, there's no choice," she points out.

Indeed, the 2013 annual survey of working mums by found the main reason for mums returning to work after having children is money (94%) - although 75% want to work to boost their self-esteem, and 75% enjoy their job.

So if you can't avoid the need to return to work, the only answer is to try and reduce the stresses that go with it - Garner stresses that being happy about childcare, making sure it's right for you as well as your child, is crucial in this.

"Anything that can reduce your stress levels helps make the return easier and more sustainable in the long-term," she says.

Working mum

Tweaking things a little at work if necessary, such as reducing working hours, or cutting commuting by requesting a couple of days working from home, are also steps which can be of huge benefit.

From the employment perspective, part of the problem with returning to work after having children can be the length of time a woman has been off. The survey found 32% of mums took between one and six months off, 30% took seven to 12 months, and 23% had more than two years away from work.

Jennifer Liston-Smith, head of coaching at Myfamilycare, which provides work and family solutions for both employers and employees, says: "If a woman's taken a long period off work, she has to show she's got up-to-date skills - there's a very definite confidence hurdle.

"She may be questioning whether it'll work for her and can she balance it all, and the world is looking at her and asking if she can do it, has she got up-to-date skills?"

She says leading employers see the benefit of being family-friendly and having mothers return to work, explaining: "They know parents are likely to have developed more perspective, responsibility and loyalty.

"They quite like to employ parents because they tend to be good at prioritising and multi-tasking, and will probably be motivated and loyal if the employer can help them make it work."

Working and being a parent means, of course, that parents have two roles, and Liston-Smith stresses: "A lot of people feel they're happier as parents if they've got their own identity and are able to use their talents and training at work."

Trying a Keeping-in-Touch Day, where a parent on maternity or additional paternity leave is paid to work for the odd day during the leave, can also make the final return to work easier. Parents also have the right to request flexible working, although employers don't have to agree to it.

Getting the work-life balance right is also vital, says Liston-Smith, and it can really help for mums to share chores with their partner if possible - that said, last year's survey found only 27% of parents shared housework and childcare evenly with their partner.

"If you have a partner at home, it's sensible to have constructive conversations about how you share the domestic workload," she says.

"While you're on maternity leave you're probably more involved with housework than ever, but when you go back to work that has to be managed as a household - it can't really stay as just being your job.

"But it's important to be level-headed about it, and use your best delegation skills with your partner!"

Go to he Work and Family Show for more information.