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Balancing motherhood and a career

By CNN's Mallika Kapur

Many mothers are returning to their careers in some form.
What best describes your approach to work/life balance?
Work takes precedence
Life takes precedence
My work and life are in balance
Balance is my goal
Balance is impossible

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Motherhood does not have to mean jumping off the career ladder, and an increasing number of women are choosing to juggle both, statistics show.

A growing number of British women -- 80 percent according to recent figures -- are returning to work either part-time or full-time before their child is 18 months old.

But juggling parenthood and a career often means making compromises.

A survey by charity The Maternity Alliance this year revealed that one in four parents accepted a cut in salary or job status as part of arranging greater flexibility in their hours.

For Denise Tyler, returning to work after having her baby meant creating a new business, allowing her to work from home three days a week.

After struggling to find useful information targeted at working mothers, she decided to set up Mother@Work -- a Web-based magazine specifically for working mothers, offering practical, legal and financial advice as well as a forum for them to share their experiences.

"What I think women are getting out of it is feeling that they aren't alone, because one of the feelings I think most working mothers have -- even if it's by choice that you are working and a mother -- is ... 'How am I going to cope?'"

Tyler says much has changed from 30 years ago, when women campaigned for equality in the workplace.

These days, she says, women can more easily combine their professional and personal lives.

"Now we have achieved that. We can work and have high-flying careers. But we can also have the choice of having a family at the same time."

Management consultant Sharmila Guha, pregnant with her second child, is on maternity leave.

After her first child, son Rohan, now 2, was born, she cut down her working hours, which has involved making a compromise in her career.

"The thing that I've had to accept, which has been quite difficult, is that I've gone from being one of the lead performers in my peer group to being an average performer in terms of appraisals. So that's a bit of an adjustment."

Despite this, Guha says she feels as though she has a good balance between work and motherhood.

"The choice was mine, and at the moment, given the experience I have, I don't feel I have been unduly disadvantaged."

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