Laura went back to work when her baby was a year old:
"I'd had a year off and it was wonderful being with my baby. But I knew I had to go back and from about nine months I started to prepare. I visited the school where I teach to find out what was going on. I started to read the education section of the newspapers again, and I reminded myself every day that life was going to change. So it was less of a shock when it actually happened."
Katie, however, felt totally unprepared:
"I didn't want to go back to work. My partner got really angry when I kept saying I wanted to stay at home with Tom. We had lots of arguments, but I knew we would be short of money if I didn't go back. I left looking for a childminder far too late and wasn't happy with the person we chose. So the day I went back, I was miserable and couldn't concentrate. It was a disaster really."
Yasmeen combines working as a journalist with being a mother:
"I was determined not to give up my career when Isobel was born. I went back to work when she was four months old. It was tough because you don't have regular hours when you're a journalist. But with a really brilliant nanny, plus some help from my Mum, and an understanding husband, I've made it, and so has Isobel!"
So if you are going back to work through choice or necessity:
• Get ready well in advance;
• Accept that you have a right to a career;
• Ask for help from your partner, relatives and friends;
• Allow plenty of time to choose a carer for your baby - you won't be happy at work if you're worrying about who she's with.