So much to do and so little time

You are at work and those pregnancy symptoms are creeping up again. Nausea? Swollen ankles? Exhaustion? No, its anxiety as your due date draws near.

There are so many things you have to do to prep for the baby. Being at work can be overwhelming. Then it hits you!

I have to prepare for maternity leave too!

As if you did not have enough to do already. Where to start?

You are going to want to plan as much as you can, early – while you still have energy.

When your due date nears, you do not have to worry so much about work-related issues.

You want your last trimester to revolve around preparing for your baby and you want to keep it as stress-free as possible.

This means learning about your rights as a future mama and buckling down at work in advance. It also means being practical about your situation. Do you have a job that allows for extended maternity leave? Or does your job not even recognize that women give birth to babies and need time to bond with them?

Depending on your situation you must plan accordingly. So get ready because I am going to walk you through a few things you need to get started on as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

"MATERNITY LEAVE PLAN" TEMPLATE FREE DOWNLOAD

Click the link below for your free detailed template:
MATERNITY LEAVE PLAN TEMPLATE

 

#1 Save your leave or vacation time

The sooner you find out you’re pregnant, the smarter you can be regarding your time off or leave. This may mean working extra hours and coming in on days you’d rather just stay tucked in bed.

When I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was sleep. But, I realized that I could either spend all my leave while I was pregnant or I could save it and spend more time with my baby.

Doctors’ Appointments

Being pregnant means having a lot of doctors’ appointments. Most, if not all of these appointments will also coincide with your work schedule. If you have a flexible work schedule than you can probably make up the hours during the pay period or make your appointments during your time off.

Being vigilant about how you set up your appointments could mean the difference between having an extra week off or not. For instance, if you take the entire day off every time you have a doctor’s appointment over the course of your pregnancy, you will be at least 9 or so days short. Now, if you schedule your appointments at the end of the day and just miss an hour or so of work you can save about 63 hours or 7 days of time off (if you work a regular 8 hour day schedule).

Personally, I tried to make my appointments at the end of my workday. Most of the time, I would just leave 30 minutes to an hour early making it easier to make up the time.

At the same time, trust your body and if you need that one day off or you need to go to the ER then GO. At the end of the day, your health and that of your growing baby are always top priority.

Holidays

While everyone might be making holiday plans in December, you’ll be making maternity plans. YAY!

I know, I sound like such a Scrooge.

But honestly, working through the holidays does not have to be so difficult. I got the Federal Holidays off and I was working 9-hour shifts in order to get an extra day off. I had my in-laws visiting town so it was a nice break away from home.

Plus, work was a ghost town and I enjoyed the quiet slow pace.

If you are pregnant in the summer and everyone is taking off the Wednesday before the 4th of July and Friday after, those are two days that you may want to work.

If you are a salary worker or if your company is informal about the time you take off, make sure you understand your company’s policies. If nobody notices you have not taken a day off in months and you are ready to take some time off, make sure you have documented it. Or better yet, make sure your supervisor is aware of what you are doing.

If you do plan on taking some time off, that’s ok too. We all need a break and sometimes for the sake of our sanity. Just try not to overdo it, remember those are paid leave days. You will be thankful when you have that day to spend with your baby.

#2 Get smart about your budget and money

Review your finances and figure out how much money your family will be making during your maternity leave. Figure out how much you can realistically save before you go on maternity leave.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much time do I want off?
  • Am I willing to work throughout my entire pregnancy?
  • How much will my partner be making during my maternity leave?
  • Will we be able to afford our bills?
  • Do I have to pay for all my medical expenses? How much will insurance cover?
  • How much will the hospital cost?
  • How much will the doctor charge for the cost of labor and delivery?
  • How much will the pediatrician charge for appointments with my baby?
  • Are there other tests my baby or I will need while in the hospital?

Remember, everything costs money and depending on your insurance will be how much you have to save and budget for. Call your insurance provider, more than likely they can give you an idea of how much the hospital will cost if you have a vaginal birth or a c-section.

Some of your budgeting will depend on whether or not you will be paid while on maternity leave.

Take into account all your current bills, potential hospital bills, insurance premiums, and baby supplies. Write everything down and create a budget plan. Be smart and start saving as soon as you possibly can.

If you have school loans, you can actually stop making payments if you are struggling financially. I knew during my maternity leave it would be more beneficial to not pay my student loan, so I called the loan company and they had me fill out a General Forbearance form. I started repaying my loan once I started working again.

 

***Are you baby crazy too? Here are more posts written by a baby crazy mama***

Advice Every Working Pregnant Woman Must Know on How to Survive Work

The First 15 Things to Do When You are Pregnant and Stunned

#3 Research your company’s policy on maternity leave

Find out what maternity benefits, if any, your company provides. My company did not have a maternity leave benefit.

I have mentioned this in my blog before, I have never met anyone personally whose company has maternity leave here in the U.S. Which is why you need to find out your company’s policy now.

If your employer employs at least 50 people then you should qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Remember FMLA does not mean you will be getting any money – it just means you can potentially have 12 weeks of non-paid leave.

If you’re lucky, your company will offer Short Term Disability during your maternity leave. The time frame is normally dependent on your doctor’s note. I got 6 weeks of short term disability after I gave birth which seems to be the common time frame given for births with no complications.

While on short term disability I was receiving an income, just nowhere near my full rate. It was not an income that I could really depend on, so my savings is what paid the bills during my maternity leave.

Researching your company’s policy will give you a better understanding. Make sure you understand absolutely everything and ask questions when you don’t.

#4 Understand FMLA (USA)

If you need further information on the Family and Medical Leave Act, please click on the following link:

https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28.pdf

This is an easy to understand fact sheet. It will give you a basic understanding of your FMLA rights. It is important to read up on FMLA because it is what secures your job while on maternity leave.

***Other MUST-READ articles for pregnant women***

How To Pump at Work Quickly and Efficiently

Announcing Your Pregnancy at Work

#5 Insurance

If you are on your company’s health insurance plan, talk to your company and see what out of pocket costs you are responsible for. Your premiums or what you pay your company to have insurance may not be covered while on maternity leave.

If that’s the case, then it’s an added expense you need to take into account.

Yes, you read it right, you may have to pay for your insurance premiums while you are out. If each paycheck they take out $300 for your health insurance, you may have to pay that $300 to your company to cover your insurance. For some of us that can easily be $600 a month – while you are not making much money!

Also, find out if they provide breast pumps, most insurances cover the full cost and let you choose the brand.

Finally, if you are adding your baby to your company’s insurance find out what paperwork is needed, what plans are offered, and if you have any deadlines. I had 30 days to change my health insurance plan and to add her as a dependent for all of my benefits. Just make sure your baby is covered by your insurance during the grace period. My child was covered as a part of my plan temporarily for her first few appointments.

#6 Your State’s Rights (USA)

While Federal Law protects pregnant women, every state has its own provisions. Review your state’s laws regarding maternity leave by clicking on the following link: US State Office Links

More information on federal rights: Department of Labor Rights 

 

#7 Find out about the breast pumping room situation

Federal law requires employers who fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to give nursing mothers a reasonable break to pump for one year after the baby’s birth. They are also required to provide a room other than a bathroom that provides privacy in order to breast pump.

Now, these are Federal Laws meaning states cannot take away but they can add further provisions. In the state of Texas, your employer must also provide you with access to clean water and storage for your breast milk.

If you would like to know more about your state laws, please click on the link: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/breastfeeding-state-laws.aspx

Remember, this is only if your employer is subject to FLSA. As long as your employer employs at least 50 employees then they should be subject to these rules. Small businesses who employ less than 50 employees are not subject to FLSA. If they say it would impose an undue hardship then they are not required to accommodate nursing mothers.

This is why you must find out your rights immediately. If you work for a small business, they may still be flexible and follow the general guidelines. But it is up to you to have that discussion with them and to share your research findings as a back up to your needs.

#8 Create a maternity leave plan, attached is a downloadable template

Be proactive with your work duties! Show your employer that you have their best interests at heart as you prepare for maternity leave by creating a tailored and very specific Maternity Leave Plan click to download.

This plan will include instructions for the person or people taking over your job. It should have details on all the projects or assignment you are currently working on and if they will be completed prior to your due date.

It should also have all the projects that will continue past your due date with specifics on how your replacement can accomplish what is needed. It should also have points of contact that your replacement can reach out to if they need help.

Make it easy for the person to find the files and supplies they will need to complete your duties. The more specific you can be the better. Especially if you want them to continue to work how you do and not start a whole new process. If someone begins a new process then you will be the one who will have to learn it when you come back.

Also, put down the length of your maternity leave and when you plan on coming back. Along with how you are getting paid, will it be vacation time or will you be getting short term disability or no pay? Although I did share everything with my employer, you can keep some of this information internal for yourself.

I created a maternity leave plan as a template and it is available to download. Of course, this is just a guide and you should tailor it to your duties and responsibilities. Make sure you share it with your supervisor or whoever is in charge so they can see all the work you put in upfront to prepare the person. You want them to double check that you have included everything and it is in place.

#9 Tie up any work-related loose ends

At least a month in advance of your due date, try to wrap up various things you do at work. Remember, some babies come sooner than later, which means you need to do things ahead of time. The last thing on your mind during your maternity leave should be work.

Try not to plan any meetings or deadlines near your due date. Let your supervisor know what projects you are working on and give access to the information and files they may need to complete any project if you suddenly go into labor. You can do this with your maternity leave plan.

Think of the small things too, like if you water plants or if you make sure the windows are closed before you leave. Let people know the little things you do so they do not fall through the cracks. Trust me, you do not want to come back to work and find all your plants are dead (or to find out nobody took care of the office pet goldfish)!

When you have a baby, your work benefits may change, you will need to update them. Make sure you know all the steps you must take to add your child to your health insurance at either your job or your partner’s job. Have HR phone numbers of on standby so you can reach out to the people who can help you if you need it.

Make a list of phone numbers for people you may need to call if you go into labor and can’t make it to work – ensure your partner has them too.

If everyone at your workplace is excited about your new arrival, create a mini distribution list of who you want your partner to notify once your baby is born. Or have a point person back at work who can share the news with everyone and maybe a picture or two. If you work at a place like I do, they are going to want to know that you and the baby are okay.

Final thoughts

The more you prepare early, the more you can really enjoy your maternity leave with your baby. If you want to be worry-free from work with no interruptions, then this is the way to go.

If you do not prepare, then two things can happen:

  1. Someone will end up calling you to bother you for information and it is going to happen right as your baby is blissfully falling asleep in your arms or
  2. You come back to work and everything has changed because instead of asking you how you do something, people will do it their way and maybe even take over some of your duties

You really do not want the latter to happen, you want to come back to work knowing exactly what needs to be done.

You can’t control everything, but control what you can!

As you can see there are a ton of things to consider before you go on maternity leave, but trust me, if you start early you can get all of these things done and more. Did I forget something? Is there a step or major point I am missing? Let me know in the comments below. Best of luck as you plan for your maternity leave!

Related Posts:

Advice Every Working Pregnant Woman Must Know on How to Survive Work

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An Extensive and Detailed Guide to Effectively and Quickly Pump at Work

 

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