The amount of time women spend out of work postpartum has implications for both health and economic trajectories which may result in long-term social inequities or exacerbate those already existing. The purpose of this investigation was to describe the characteristics of women who return to work within the first year postpartum and to identify specific occupational and health factors associated with returning to work among women who worked during pregnancy. The EDEN cohort is comprised of pregnant women recruited in two French university hospitals before 24 weeks gestation with a singleton pregnancy. Questionnaires were administered at 4, 8, and 12 months after birth. Multivariate logistic regression was used to model the odds of returning to work within 1 year of childbirth with inclusion of sociodemographic, health, and occupational variables that were significantly related to returning to work at the level of p < 0.05 in bivariate analysis. Eighty percent of the women who worked during pregnancy in our sample had resumed work before their infant's first birthday. After adjustment, occupational level, full-time work, standing position, job reward, desire to change job, education, and father's occupational level remained significantly associated with returning to work. Women's perception of their work as rewarding was the strongest predictor of resuming employment (OR comparing high reward to low reward: 2.48, 95 % CI: 1.60-3.83 for women with parity 0 or 1). Experiencing an adverse birth outcome had no relation to returning to work within 1 year postpartum. Across all indicator variables, women of higher socioeconomic status or with greater resources had greater odds of returning to work compared to those of lower status. This suggests that the crucial period of employment transition around the time of childbirth may intensify preexisting social inequalities.