Preparing for your maternity leave ahead of time helps you and your workplace get ahead of schedule or find alternative solutions so you (and your boss) will be less stressed when your baby gets here! Planning ahead also ensures that you get to fully enjoy your new baby instead of trying to focus on too many tasks at once.
What is Maternity Leave?
ACOG defines maternity leave as the time a mother takes off work around the delivery of her baby. Most workplaces offer paid maternity so a mother can relax and enjoy time with her baby in the initial days without having to worry about finances.
Sometimes companies may offer additional unpaid maternity leave for mothers that wish to extend the leave of their own will.
Things to think about while preparing for maternity leave:
As you’re nearing your maternity leave, here are some things you might want to decide on beforehand.
1. Decide how long you need or what your company’s policies are.
Read up on your company’s policy regarding maternity leave. Look up the duration and then plan how you want to divide it. Do you want more days off in your last trimester or do you want to maximize your leave during the postpartum period?
If the duration is less than what you feel you’ll need, ask your HR what the policy is to extend the leave and how you need to go about that. Be sure you work out the formalities ahead of time to avoid any trouble later.
2. Expected Start and End Dates
As we mentioned above, it’s important to figure out when you want your maternity leave and how you want to divide it. Some workplaces allow a specific number of weeks or days before delivery and then the same after delivery.
However, most workplaces might have a specified number of days but it’s up to you when you want to start it. If you’re able to manage work until your last trimester, you might want to save up all your leave for the postpartum period so you can rest and spend time with your baby.
Either way, it’s good to have tentative dates planned out so you can adjust your work around it.
3. Responsibilities while you’re out
If you hold an administrative position or a position that calls for a specific set of responsibilities, see who you can delegate responsibilities to while you’re gone.
Work out a game plan to handle things while you’re out. Start training individuals on handling your responsibilities. You can decide if you want to hand over things to one specified individual or divide responsibilities amongst different people.
4. Accessibility while on leave
Sometimes you may have to decide how accessible you want to be while you’re on leave. Do you want work to be able to contact you through email or call while you’re out or do you want to be left out of work-related things completely?
5. How you will want to transition back to work
This is super important to consider and talk to your boss/supervisor about! Some people like to go in all at once or you can start with working part-time initially to adjust and then slowly transition to full-time work when you can.
6. Discuss your plan with your company
Of course, having your company on board with your plans is super important so none of you or your coworkers run into any trouble later. Pregnancy is a very special time; you don’t want to be caught up in other things when it’s the last thing you want to do.
Don’t forget to think about…
Prepping for the postpartum period at home
While on maternity leave, have a tentative list of things you want to do while you’re on it. Are there any postpartum goals you want to achieve? Any baby-related work that you want to get done while you have the time?
Either way, preparing for your postpartum period helps you stay organized and utilize your leave in a better way.
Childcare options for when you go back to work
While your time is your own on your maternity leave, it’s important to work out options for when you finally go back to work. Do you want to take your child to daycare or do you want to hire help to babysit at home? It’s good to have it figured out so you can transition to work more smoothly.