Managing personal and professional responsibilities may be challenging during the postpartum period, as employees navigate new roles, responsibilities, and family dynamics. The purpose of this paper was to understand the work/life balance experiences of diverse stakeholders and identify opportunities to improve the work environment. We conducted a series of in-depth focus groups with faculty, staff, and graduate students (n = 22), and in-depth interviews with administrators (n = 10) at a research-intensive university in the United States. A six-phase thematic analysis approach was used to examine the experiences and perspectives of individuals with different roles. Three themes with subsequent subthemes emerged: 1) employee role shapes perspectives on campus policies and practices; 2) confusion about policies exacerbates return-to-work issues; and 3) coworkers and supervisors are the primary sources of postpartum support in this workplace. Employees in our study expressed strong desires for clear, consistent institutional policies to ensure employees’ postpartum return-to-work experiences were not dependent on informal arrangements with coworkers and supervisors. Faculty, staff, and graduate student postpartum needs are shaped by individual, interpersonal, and community factors. Clear communication between individuals who make policy decisions and those who are subject to the policies may reduce employee issues during the postpartum period.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License