5 Tips For Planning Your Maternity Leave
As your delivery date approaches, you may be feeling a variety of emotions from excitement to overwhelm. If you work outside the home, the thought of leaving your job for several weeks may make you feel almost as anxious as the idea of bringing a baby into the world!
With proper planning and communication, you can have a worry-free maternity leave. A smooth transition will allow you to focus on what’s most important: taking care of yourself and that beautiful new baby who will soon be in your arms.
Here are five tips to consider for a smooth maternity leave:
1. Know your maternity leave benefits.
Be sure you have a clear understanding of your employer’s maternity leave policies and procedures. In addition to reading the employee handbook or any written guidelines, schedule a meeting so that you can ask questions and avoid confusion. Also, note that some states such as California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut now have paid leave laws.
2. Understand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
In addition to knowing your employer’s stated policy and state laws, educate yourself about your rights under the FMLA. The FMLA was passed in 1993 and mandates job-protected leave for up to 12 weeks per year, provided certain conditions are met. It is important to know that the FMLA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, except for government agencies and elementary and secondary schools, which are covered regardless of the number of employees.
3. Talk to others who have already been there.
You are likely to find co-workers or friends who have experience with a similar maternity leave situation. Ask them to share their experiences, lessons learned, and advice. These same people are also great resources for after the baby is born, since they’ve been there too!
4. Set boundaries in advance.
Particularly if you work for a smaller company or are self-employed, it’s important to know how you will realistically take the time you need after the baby is born. If this is your first child, you may be surprised at how all-consuming an infant can be in those early weeks, not to mention the lack of sleep! Enlist the help of whatever resources are needed to take over your duties. Also, make it clear when you do and do not want to be kept in the loop.
5. Expect the unexpected.
No matter how much you prepare, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. This is especially true when you’re bringing a new human being into the world! Be ready for some surprises, and try to enjoy every moment along the way.