I hardly see my baby: challenges and highlights of being a New Zealand working mother of an infant

Combining motherhood and paid work presents a significant challenge for many women. We asked 2388 working New Zealand mothers of infants about their biggest highlight and challenge since the birth of their child. Thematic analysis revealed the top three reported highlights were Enjoyment of the Child (40%), Child Development (29%) and Attributes of the Child (16%). The top three challenges included Time Management (24%), difficulties with maternal role and responsibilities (21%) and work-related challenges (18%). Using logistic regression, working was more likely to be reported as a challenge by mothers who worked longer hours, returned to work when their infants were younger, had greater household incomes, or expressed concern about negative career consequences if they stayed on leave. Working was less likely to be reported as a challenge for mothers whose infants had health or developmental problems and who ‘wanted to get out of the house’. Practical implications are explored.