Planning Your Maternity Leave

Julie Kirk
mother sleeping on sofa with baby

If you are pregnant and have a career, you may have concerns about taking your maternity leave. There are steps you can take and resources you can access to help ensure that your maternity leave will go smoothly and you can enjoy your time off with your newborn.

Share the News With Your Boss First

Letting your boss know about your pregnancy should be a priority. You should handle it professionally and ask to set up a time to speak with him. Pregnancy news can spread quickly in a work setting and you don't want your boss to find out from your coworkers. Things you should discuss with your boss include:

  • An overview of the projects you're working on and your progress.
  • Which coworker may be the best fit to provide coverage for you while you're out.
  • When you will actually be going on maternity leave. (1 or 2 weeks before your due date or up until you deliver.)
  • How much time you are planning to take off on your maternity leave.
  • What your availability will be if questions arise while you're on maternity leave and the best way to contact you.
  • Reassure him that you will keep him informed of any changes with your workload or issues with the pregnancy that may occur as well.

Check Your Benefits

While it is important to understand your maternity medical benefits, it is just as important to be knowledgeable about your actual maternity leave and time off. If you know a co-worker who recently went on maternity leave, you may want to ask her what you can expect. However, your best resource for more specific information on your medical benefits, short-term disability and FMLA is your human resources department. Depending on where you work, you may need to use your sick, vacation and personal time prior to your short term disability kicking in. It is important to know what's available to you so you can plan and budget accordingly especially if you take time off without pay.

Short Term Disability Options

Short-term disability is typically offered by your employer. The amount of the benefit can vary depending on your company and the pay can range around 50 to 100 percentage of your salary. For pregnancy, the short-term disability benefit will usually pay out for about six weeks, however, it may be longer if you've had a c-section or pregnancy complications. It is highly recommended that you double check these benefits with your human resources department.

FMLA Information

FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) is a federal law that allows employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave and the law will also help keep your job secure during this time. There are some stipulations for qualifying for this benefit such as, the company must have 50 or more employees and you need to have been employed there at least a year. If your company qualifies and you want to use FMLA, you should also check if there will be any changes to your employee benefit premiums while you are on leave.

Prepare or Train Your Co-Workers

Organizing your work and completing important work projects prior to your maternity leave is crucial. Try not to leave any loose ends for your coworkers. It is important to be considerate to your coworkers especially when preparing them to take over certain aspects of your job while you are on maternity leave. Don't wait until the last minute to train because you never know when you may be put on bed rest during your pregnancy or go into early labor. Besides the training, you should also make a detailed list or outline the protocols they may need to follow as well as letting them know which clients of yours may need special attention or may be somewhat difficult to deal with.

Choose the Pediatrician for Your Baby

It is recommended that you choose your pediatrician well in advance of your baby's arrival. Do your research and check with friends and family. Personal and first-hand references are always the best.

Check Into Childcare in Advance

If you are going back to work and need childcare, you will need to weigh your options. Interviewing nannies, taking tours of reputable daycare facilities, or asking family members if they're available should also be done in advance. Keep in mind that there may be a waiting list for certain daycares.

Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

You should decide how you would prefer to return back to work after your maternity leave. This should be discussed and negotiated with your boss prior to leaving on maternity leave. Will you come back full-time, part-time or phase back into your position? You may want to see if there are flexible options available such as telecommuting.

Cover All Bases

It is important that you have thorough knowledge of your maternity leave benefits and that you're well-informed about your employers policies, that way there are no surprises. The only thing you should be concerned about during your maternity leave is enjoying your special bonding time with your new baby.

Planning Your Maternity Leave