Looking for Maternity Leave Advice

Updated on April 16, 2009
J.D. asks from Smyrna, GA
9 answers

Hi Mamas,
Does anyone have any advice on preparing for maternity leave - some learning experience you may have had that you weren't expecting? Can be in regards to insurance, work, child care, etc. I'll be leaving work at the end of May, and want to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

A big thank you to all the Mamas who shared some great advice with me! I was overwhelmed by all the wonderful suggestions and learning experiences each one shared with me. Thanks again!

More Answers



answers from Florence on

Work closely with your HR department. They will make sure you have filled out all required forms and such related to a long absence (FMLA, company paperwork, etc).

I started calling around about daycare for my son when I was 5 months pregnant. I was astonished to learn that the vast majority of these places would only put me on a waiting list because their rolls were already full for when I was expecting to enroll my son. I found 2 daycares with space for my son, and I was calling 6 months in advance. I live in Florence, a fairly large town with lots of daycares. This was definitely my big surprise.



answers from Atlanta on

Hi J.,

Yes, I would consider how you will do not working during your maternity leave! I was a career minded person, very dedicated and hard working. I had a hard time with maternity leave, felt like I needed to be working, was very anxious and had a hard transition to motherhood. I never realized the responsibility of being a mom but that you don't get any feedback for all the work you are doing, which was hard for me because I was use to the feedback of either a paycheck or recognition at work. I wish I had prepared myself for the transition more and enjoyed not working and relishing in the moments of the huge life transition of becoming a mom. Anyways, will share more if you are interested. I ended up going back to work for 3 months and then quit my job and started my own business.
Being a mother is amazing, but I think we don't really anticipate the magnitude of the life transition you endure and therefore can have unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
Are you an entrepreneur as well?
My baby turned 4 last weekend and I can still remember the day she was born and the feeling I had, my heart opened up and I became so vulnerable. It is an unbelievable feeling! I now have 2 girls at home and it's so much fun!!!
enjoy the remainder of your pregnancy and don't beat yourself up as a new mom! trust your instincts and live in the moment.
best of luck to you!



answers from Spartanburg on

First of all, congratulations! You're in for a wonderful experience becoming a mother! :)

I would just second what some of the other ladies have already stated. I work in HR and can tell you that it will be important (if you are working) to work with HR and let them help you get the necessary paperwork completed for any Short-term disability and/or FMLA that may be offered to you. FMLA is not offered to everyone...there are a few stipulations and one is that the company you work for has to have at least 50 people employed at your location (or the general vicinity). It's best to just see HR and let them explain it to you. Your employer may have some rules built into their medical plans that you'll need to be made aware of as well. For instance, we have a 30 day window to add someone to insurance after a "qualifying life event". Qualifying events include a few things, one of which is the birth of a child. So, in our company, you'd have to add your daughter to your insurance plan within the first 30 days of her life or you would not be able to cover her until the next open enrollment period. Make sure you check all of that out so you're not caught off-guard later.

It's also nice to make a few notes for the people who will be left behind to cover your area of expertise while you're out. Maybe make a notebook of step-by-step detailed notes on the processes you use to perform your daily tasks. This way, your co-workers have something to go to if they forget what comes next.

I didn't really have any surprises when I went out with mine. I stayed out a total of 12 weeks with my first. Our Short-term disability plan covered me for the first 8 weeks b/c I had a c-section (would have been less time for a regular delivery) and then I took 4 weeks unpaid under FMLA. I did have to play catch up on insurance premiums owed during those 4 unpaid weeks upon returning but it wasn't too bad b/c we knew that was coming and could plan accordingly.

Good luck to you and if you can get this stuff out of the way soon, you can just focus on loving and spending time with that precious baby girl when she gets here! :) Congratulations again!



answers from Atlanta on

Hello, I recently went on maternity leave at the beginning of March. What I thought would be a hard process went smooth. Best thing I can tell you is to make sure you give your employer a 30 day notice. This is required if you are taking FMLA. Another thing is to talk with your HR department and make sure you will receive pay (granted it may not be full amount). I also asked about insurance. I keep my insurance as long as i pay a premium each month directly to the insurance company. So far everything has gone smooth and I have been able to focus on my little one NOT WORK!!!! I wish you luck and congrats!!!



answers from Atlanta on

Hi J.,
Not sure, if you are a working mom, I am assuming you are. Most companies now days allow FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)/short term disability) to kick in. Depending on your company's policy. I work for a large company so I had to exhaust any vacation time I had first, beyond that short term disability kicked in. I was paid in full for the first two weeks and then half, now when I had to have a hysterectomy year 1/2 ago because I had been there longer I was able to get full benefits (full pay) the entire time I was out. Nothing changed. FMLA allows you to take the time off without losing your job. (companies have to keep a job for you.) I hope this helps somewhat. Since your hubby is an entrepreneur, not sure what benefits you have available etc.
Sincerely - N.



answers from Charleston on

Hi there. There are many great posts already but here are my suggestions to add.

1. The day that you go into labor, have someone at your work notify HR so they know when to start your paperwork. If you have a certain number of days before short term disability starts, they will start the clock right after you leave.
2. Find out which person will be your claim representative because they will be your point of contact for all things dealing with short term disability.
3. If you haven't found a day care, get on a list IMMEDIATELY! No one told my husband and I this, and we searched for MONTHS to find quality care givers.



answers from Atlanta on

I just wanted to be sure and clarify that the FMLA is available to you, but you do not get paid for it. I think you can take up to twelve weeks and then be able to go back.
At my job, we get short-term disability (after vacation is exhausted) and that only pays 60%. You get a lump sum check for your entire pay and then you have to be sure and pay back the insurance payment.
Good luck to you!



answers from Atlanta on

Just be sure to understand your company policy regarding maternity leave, short term disability, the difference between FMLA and non-FMLA. I thought I understood the policy but when I had to go out early on bedrest things got complicated as to when the various types of leave started and stopped. Other than that just enjoy the time of with your little one and try to remember that you don't have to do everything everyday!



answers from Atlanta on

Hmmm... The paperwork for filing for short term disability is always more of a hassle than you think it will be, and the deadline will sneak up on you.

Ask for the maximum amount of time off that you can. Maybe more. You can always come back earlier (yeah, right!), but it's hard to ask for more time once you're out.

You probably won't be able to get as much done in your "time off" than you think you will.

Be prepared to change your mind about whatever daycare you have selected. I visited several places when I was pregnant with my first and was impressed with how well they seemed to know babies, and I didn't see any problems. But a month after the kid was born, I went back and falt COMPLETELY different, as I thought to myself "What! They're bottle-propping a 3 month old! Somebody pick up that baby crying over there! For heavens sake, can't anyone here console a crying baby? It doesn't take two hands to wipe a counter." In fact, with both of my children, I changed my mind at the last minute.

If you have a little extra room in your house, at least look into the cost for an Au Pair. When I came back from maternity leave, I had no vacation days available, and everytime the baby was even a little bit sick, I had to take an unpaid day and it was an administrative hassle. And getting all those bottles cleaned and boxed, waking the baby up early to get them off to daycare on your way into work. It's a lot of hassle, and having someone in your home to watch JUST YOUR BABY can be reassuring, if you can get used to the idea of giving up some privacy. (Note, I haven't gone the Au Pair route myself, but I recognize now that there are definite benefits, so at least consider it for the first year or two.)

All Montessori schools are not equal. But once your child is old enough for a toddler program at a GOOD Montessori, I highly recommend that over other daycares, even the fancy Creme de la Creme and Goddard ones, and certainly over the "educational" ones like Primrose. They really teach toddlers so many practical, useful skills - my second child is on one now, and he's so much more capable in so many ways. (Montessori teaches self-care stuff like, being able to wipe your own nose, do your oen buttons, put on your own jacket, pour your own milk, clean up spilled milk, set the table and make yourself a bowl of cereal. My older son that was at creme learned to recite the months of the year, even though it was years before he had a good concept of how long "five minutes" really was.)

Oh - here's a GOOD one: Talk to your employer now about what you will need to pump when you return to work. And don't take "the employee bathroom" for an answer. Or even "you can use my office." I was pretty vocal about this, and it's not a topic that most men are comfortable talking about, so they tried to find a quick solution rather than have to hear details. As a result, my workplace now has a small, windowless conference room with a table, two chairs, electic outlet, and phone. (It still has to be usable for other purposes. Oh, and they have a small "library" of technical books.) The door didn't have a lock, so I bought one of those bars that you can jam against the handle - you know the anti-theft ones you see 'em at Home Depot. I even got them to reimburse me, and it stays in that room. So far, three other returning moms have been able to use that room.

I was a bit of a pain about this, but it has made it soooo much easier for other women at my work. Just one year before my little crusade, a co-worker (much less assertive) used a stall in the ladies restroom. NOT FUN. Especially when you want everything to be... clean and safe.

And finally, if your work and your job aren't close, try to get a daycare close to your home rather than close to your work. SERIOUSLY. There will be a few times it's a hassle, like when your kid gets sick or maybe gets a minor injury, but it's worth it. The plan to take breaks from work to visit your baby usually doesn't pan out for very long, especially when they are a little older. Once they see mom, they do NOT want you to leave. And if they're close to your work, you may have to battle rush hour traffic with a baby in the backseat, one that may not be happy. Also, if you stay there for a while, you'll probably make good friends with the other families. If it's close to home, it makes it easier for playdates, birthday parties, and, hopefully, trading babysitting with other families so you can have a date with your husband without spending a fortune on a sitter. If you are VERY lucky, the playdates will gradually evolve into grown-up time, too. Now that my oldest is 5, the playdates that he has with his very oldest friend (they met at 3 months in the infant room) involve the kids playing more or less independently while the grown ups have wine or margaritas, a nice dinner together and sit around the firepit watching the fireflies come out. It's usually so pleasant that we end up keeping the kids up way too late. You know all those friends that you haven't seen since they had kids? You'll probably start seeing them again. It's not that your social life ends - it just morphs.

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