Paying for Maternity Leave!?!

Updated on May 20, 2010
R.M. asks from Beaverton, OR
20 answers

Hello Mamas-

I am not in a position to qualify for a “normal” maternity leave, 6 weeks paid off time off, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to prepare for this lack of normal income during 6 weeks. A girlfriend used company sponsored short-term disability policy to provide her with income during her maternity leave, but that won’t work for me.

I’m sure I am not the only Mama, Mama to be, Hopeful Mama to be, who has faced this issue and I would appreciate to know what you did. I am saving money each month today, but if there is a way for me to make this work, without depleting the savings I’m accumulating today, I’d like to know. I know the money I’m saving today will come in handy for diapers, diapers and more diapers.



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answers from Kansas City on

I took 3 months, and it was hard, as it was all unpaid. We saved up enough to cover my bills without my working for 3 months, plus a little extra, which ended up coming in handy when I couldnt breastfeed and we had to buy formula.

And Marly, unfortunately in America the customary time is 6 weeks - 3 months, which totally sucks. And most people in this economy are worried about even taking that much time off and still having a job to come back to.

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answers from Kansas City on

I don't know what kind of company you work for, but I worked at a school and they were very understanding with maternity leave. You should talk to your HR people and see if they are willing to work with you in any way. At my school they would prorate your pay when you were on leave, if you wanted them to, that is. Your paychecks were less for a significant period of time, but you still got money while you weren't working and that helped a lot of people. If you work at a smaller company maybe they would be willing to do something like that.

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answers from Rochester on

I did get short-term disability for my second maternity leave, but it barely covers a fraction of your income if you do get it. For my first, I did not have paid leave. One thing we did was to plan ahead for the time I would not have income, including starting to pay extra on our utility bills each month, so maybe $10 more on our gas and electric, etc. It would carry over, so before we knew it we did not have much due (if anything) the months I was out of work. This might work with several areas (phone, etc.).

For us, making credit card payments was another concern. I called all the companies before my maternity leave and was given a grace period of sorts without interest or late fees, which was a very nice courtesy. Most companies are pretty flexible if you talk to them ahead of time.

Planning meals, freezing meals, etc. can cut down on grocery costs during that time. Buying bulk items early, too, that don't go bad (like diapers in varying sizes and wipes) means you won't need to worry in the middle of your leave.

If you sit down with your monthly budget to see what you HAVE to have to make ends meet, shave some off by paying ahead and planning a bit, you will probably be okay. Depending on when you are might have occassions when your income could increase and you could put some money aside from that (a raise, a bonus around the holidays, etc.). If you are due around Christmas, you could elect to go cheaper for family and save the money as well (most people completely understand when this happens).

Another idea that we tried, since sometimes saving is easier said than done, was to add money to our grocery account. Wegmans (grocery chain) has a Shopper's Club and you can add $$ to your account and use it in the grocery. We put money on that gradually so if something came up and we did not quite have enough for bills, we knew we already had money for groceries. You can also see if your company/employer has a flexible spending account so you can put pre-tax money aside for medical expenses and/or child care costs.

Thankfully, about all a baby needs those first several months is mommy and diapers (if you are able to nurse), so you just have to worry about resting yourself and paying a few bills. Again, I had no trouble contacting anyone I had a bill with ahead of time and as soon as you say "baby" they start to work with you a bit more. Good luck! Try not to be too stressed since you can only do what you can do. :)

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answers from Seattle on

i got 4 weeks of disability pay (which was 60% of my regular salary), but it did not start until i was out for 4 weeks. i also used a couple weeks of vacation but things got pretty tight and we were lucky to have savings we could use.

we spent more than we expected while i was away from work. diapers, formula (baby couldn't BF until around 6 weeks), our food, having the heat on at the house all day... it added up. it would have been helpful to prepare meals and freeze them. we spent a lot on takeout, pizza delivery, roasted chicken from the store, etc.- (exhuasted people with a preemie colicky baby do not feel like cooking) we could have saved a lot by having things ready to microwave.
good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

for my first child, my husband was in the army and got called up right after we got preg. So his job that he was at did not like this and got rid of him. I was just a temp at my job and was trying to prove myself so they would hire me full time. I knew I would not have a perm job in time for the baby and so would not get paid so I got a extra job and worked both jobs as long as I could. We also signed up at all of the formula places to get samples (when I could not breast feed anymore we used what ever formula was a good deal he is not 6 and is very healthy so I don't think it matters if you switch formulas on them). We also made (and still do) our own laundry detergent (you can find diff ways to make it on the web). If you look up walmart samples you can get soap, formula, shampoo, etc from there. that helps to have have to buy that. We also premade meals and froze then for days when we were to tired to cook so we would not go out to eat. We also canceled the cable and what ever we did not need (once the baby comes you will have to much to do to watch tv anyway). We have never gotten any goverment help (we definatly qualified for a few years so that tells you how poor we were) So if we could make it so can you!!! I like the idea of cloth diapers. We never thought about that. I think I am going to try that with my next child! Good luck

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answers from Chicago on

Speaking of diapers, consider cloth diapering your baby to save some cash! You can buy a few to get started, or even find them used on Craig's List or The best part is, they are better for the environment, for your baby's skin, AND any other kids you have will be diapered for FREE! :) And don't forget that breastfeeding is free food (and the best food) for your baby!
I think saving every month is a great idea. If you can sock away your income tax refund (if you haven't already spent it), that can be helpful. You don't mention if you are already pregnant, but if not, can you find an extra PT job on the side to bring in some extra cash that you can save for later? Just an idea? Sell some things online or at a garage sale this summer? Buy baby things at garage sales so they are cheaper? Cut out cable TV or eating out for a few months? There's lots of great ideas for saving on this site. I'm a SAHM (didn't plan on it at first, but love it now). We've made a lot of adjustments to how we spend to be able to afford for me to stay home with our son. I do work PT now, and started my own business to help supplement, but you just have to really think about every purchase you make, and whether or not you really, truly need it.

Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Cloth diapers are a great idea for saving money. There are so many amazing different kinds and they are easy to rake care of and they are good for the ennvironment, your baby and your wallet.
Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed your baby and is free, and there is a lot of support available out there to help you do it.
Getting baby stuff at goodwill and garage sales help.
Sign up for WIC (women in and children) benefits!!!! This has been very helpful to us.
Saving every month is a great idea, keep it up.
I had no paid maternity leave and my husband and I are making it work.



answers from Seattle on

Find out what kind of resources around your area that can help you save up and or help provide you with the necessary items you will be needing while on maternity leave. I use the WIC program that we have here in Washington. I don't know if you have that in Oregon, but I would check it out. They help provide you with numerous things. We also have something called CareNet where I live. You earn points by watching videos and participating in small classes to prepare you for parenthood...or keep you updated. Those points can help you earn clothes, diapers, and even cribs! (These items are even new!) Believe me, it'll help you in the long run. A good way to find out resources is on here. Ask other moms in your areas if they have any good ideas for resources. I also signed up for something called This site is so helpful. I've been able to get free diapers, wipes, feminine needs, and so much more. :D Hope this helps!



answers from Seattle on

I do shift work, so I didn't and won't get paid time off. First, I worked extra shifts while pregnant last time and saved as much as I could. Second, you need to look in to budgeting SMART for your child.

1)don't waste your hard earned money on disposable diapers. Average cost of diapering a child from birth to potty training with these is about $2000. Plus, dermatologists will tell you that they are horrible for your child's skin. I cloth diaper (with velcro, no pins) and have spent about $300 on my child's diapers in her whole life (she turned one in march) and the diapers are in great condition, so come january, I won't be spending one red penny on diapers for number 2)
2) Breastfeed/pump. Breast milk is free. formula is $20 or more per large can. You will need a good pump when you return for work, and the initial cost can seem pricey. However, a good electric double pump can be had for the same cost as 8-10 cans of formula, so in the long run you will save a ton.
3) Buy used infant clothes. On sites like craigs list you can find clothing for about $1 per garment. You will be washing them before use any way, and used infant clothing frequently looks brand new.
4) Use friends gear. we used a friend's baby swing and bouncer (her baby was to old for them and she was saving them for number 2). Thank goodness we did not waste money on those items - my daughter hated them, so we returned them to my friend pretty quickly. Either way, sharing equipment among friends is a great way to save money. We also shared maternity clothes :)

Basically, most parents I know say they spent way to much on baby items for their first child, because they didn't know what they would use and though they needed everything. With 2nd children, they were getting rid of gear they never used of the first. So be smart about what you buy and how you buy it.

The biggest expences for infants are diapers, formula, and child care. Obviously, while on maternity leave you will not be paying for child care. Even if you decide to skip pumping and formula feed when you go back to work, breastfeeding while at home on maternity leave will save you money and is good for you and your child (it helps your uterus return to normal size and helps with the baby weight). The diaper thing is again, up to you, but with modern cloth diapers they are really easy to use and will save you a ton of money, especially if you plan on having additional children.

Good luck!!!


answers from Dallas on

i can totally understand. last year i would have qualified for short term disability for maternity, but it ended in march. my doc said i couldn't do my job in early april, so i am on fmla and getting unemployment. funny thing is, i get double in unemployment than i did when working. (yes, it's correct, allready had it checked). i buy everything except carseat secondhand. having a babyshower saturday. it sucks having to do that, but it'll save you alot in the long run. i'm also going to be using wic.
i also am doing odd jobs on or babysitting. extra money is extra money. but it's hard now that i'm 31 weeks...people just don't want to take a chance on a preg. lady getting hurt lol. good luck.


answers from San Francisco on

I'm not sure if you receive EI Benefits as in Mat Leave. Anyways the way it would be done here in Ontario is to go on SickLeave after your Mat Leave. Have your Physician fill out a form that your having trouble and that you can't return to work at the present time. Tell your Physician that you feel that 6wks. should be sufficient. You'll have to say you have back problems from the birth or something. This is something EI cannot dispute, the back is a tricky area so they won't question it. Hopefully this works for you. Again, this is after the little one is born. Congratulations mommy and I hope your rules and regulations are the same as Ontario. We have 1yr.Mat Leave why are you only receiving 6wks.Mat Leave? Get back to me I would certainly like to know. Take care!!



answers from Portland on

Actually the norm in the U.S. is no paid maternity leave. I was working as a professional for two different employers when I had my babes, and at neither one did I get one day of paid maternity/parental benefit, not for leave or for short term disability. It's kind of disgraceful, the U.S. is one of only 5 countries in the world that does this, the others being countries like Liberia, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, etc.

I did have paid sick leave at the second job, so I hoarded that and my vacation leave from the time before I got pregnant, knowing that I would hopefully need it some day. I ended up with 5 weeks paid by doing that. For the rest of my leave, I just hoarded money, and lived as cheaply as I was comfortable. When you see how much money accumulates by cutting out extras, you start feeling so good about it that you are comfortable on less (we already didn't have cable, have a cheap mobile phone plan, don't eat out or get prepared foods much, etc). I do cloth diapers, which saves us about $800/year, I calculated. With my first, the daycare didn't do cloth, so we were paying about $65/mo on that, I think. I got my cloth ones used, so they were cheaper; it seems like a lot upfront, but it is cheaper in the long run. Also you can get a lot of your baby gear on Craigslist or yard sales. I bought baby clothes used, got them from friends, or on ebay in lots. Collectively, you can save hundreds of dollars. All of these things were relatively painless and didn't take much getting used to. I've seen others who save tons of money with their groceries and other things that are great, but a little too involved for me!

The best way to start might be to take a few minutes to think out a budget of how much money you need to make it through your leave, and then write down what you think you need to spend on your bills and other various spending, and then see what you can cut back on. We try to keep our utilities low, even if it's just saving $15-20/month, it adds up over a year, and I wouldn't turn someone down if they wanted to give me $200, but I would want to keep it rather than burn it up into the ether and not even notice it.

Good luck, and enjoy a happy, healthy baby! Oh, and BREASTFEED if possible, work hard to make it work! Formula costs $hundreds a month.



answers from Seattle on

Have you considered supplementing your income with a home-based business? This can be a great way to bring in some extra income, work a flexible schedule with a new baby and receive discounted products from the company you are working for. I am a consultant with Arbonne International. We are a botanically-based Health and Wellness company with a very generous compensation plan. We also have an amazing baby line! If you would like more information, you can go to my webpage at



answers from Indianapolis on

Most maternity leave is traditionally covered under short term disability - you have to be on leave a week before it kicks in. My previous employer than arranged to have 5 weeks paid at 60% of my salary. I'd take a week of vacation and then another week unpaid to get to 8 weeks. Somehow I made it to 9 with my daughter - I guess I'd banked a lot of vacation time.

The Federal Government requires that you have up to 12 weeks. Some employers have phenomenal maternity programs, none of my companies ever have. Pretty standard.

Depending on how far along you are, I'd recommend buying as many things (such as diapers) at stores like Costco. We save SO much money each year shopping there and are fortunate to have a house large enough to store the extra toilet paper, paper towels, etc.

Also, look at expenses you have now that you won't have during maternity leave: lunches, gas to/from work, dry cleaning (if that's how you dress for work).

It's hard to anticipate what you'll need if you're going to be a first time mom. Some of the recommendations other people gave us weren't really things that we preferred to use.

Breastfeeding is considerably cheaper than formula. I nursed our son for the first 12 months and had to formula feed our daughter after 3 months to start chemo. Formula is expensive, really really expensive even if you get it at Costco/Sam's club.

I wish I had more advice and sorry you're not going to receive better coverage, but you'll make it work. Just make minor sacrifices here and there, and you'll end-up OK.



answers from Seattle on

Allso check into seeing if you can unemployment from the state. I know the state of washington has that, but it has been put on hold. But you never know, call your Job Source/Work Source and they should be able to help you. I would also look into cloth diapers. We use them and love them and they have saved us soooo much money. I bought seconds bum genius from Sign up for their reminders, I got them with inserts for very cheap and they can be used from day one. Also remember the other free thing you can do is breast feed. Formula is very expensive and breast milik is free. :)



answers from Seattle on

I didn't receive maternity leave (I was told I could have 7days, then come back or loose the position) and therefore lost my job. My husband was laid off when our girl was 4 months. What help tremendously was WIC, food bank, cloth diapers, a huge baby shower, and I did completly deplete my savings paying rent. But now she is almost 2 and everything is back to normal. We are both employed again and am thankful for everything that happened to afford us the opportunities we have now. I recently discontinued WIC even though I still qualify because it wasn't fun for me to get assistence. But its there if you need it and its very very helpful. And remember, apart from formula, the first year they don't really need much. I barely spent any $ on my baby the forst 12months. Good Luck and Congrats.



answers from Portland on

I'm pretty sure that BY LAW your employer has to allow you to take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. That doesn't mean it's paid, just that you will still have your job (or one similar to it) when you return to work. I know for some small businesses that's not always an option, nor does the employee want to turn it into a legal issue; just didn't know if you knew that.

I was able to take off 12 weeks unpaid leave (FMLA) and just saved money from the start of my pregnancy. I also filed for food stamps (or EBT) through the DHS offices here and received about 320.00 per month of "unemployed" leave to use for food (when you fill out the application you include your unborn child as another member of the household). This was really the saving grace. I didn't have to figure my food costs into my budget. You do have to be a "single" mom to get this benefit, or your husband also has to be unemployed. I'm not married, but we are living together which you can't admit to in the application was a little white lie, but saved us from starvation. Yes, it was a bit of a hassle to apply, wait to be interviewed, etc but really worth it.

We also budget billed any utility company that would let us. For instance, the gas bill got averaged per month so it was the same payment every month throughout the winter, instead of skyrocketing in the winter and going down to nothing in the summer. We ended up having to pay off a bit of a difference the following fall, but I was working again so we could afford it.

The real deal also was that we didn't GO anywhere. We were at home, went for walks, barely spent money on anything other than utilities and the like. Obviously when you have a new baby, you aren't going out to eat much or going shopping.

Good luck, mama! I know everything will work out well for you. Once you have that beautiful baby in your arms, your world will shrink to worrying about just them. :)



answers from Seattle on

I lost my job when my daughter was 10 months old had to find a way the save some money and stay at home have you looked at cloth diapers they will save you a ton in the long run if you have a washer and dryer. I'm not even talking old school cloth with pins and plastic pants we use what is called a pocket diaper goes on just like a disposable but when you take it off you can wash it and use it again and again, Try looking up Bum genuis in your seach engine or even just cloth diapers you'll get the old school version also but even with prefold and the nice covers today they are so nice and not hard to use, that's also the cheapest way to do cloth. Cloth diapering and staying home to eat and making more from scratch sometimes using the crockpot are the ways I'm saving money. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

Hi R.,
just wondering, have you tried couponing? It won't save you completely, but it sure will help your money to go a lot further than without. I tell you, there is a mass amonut of free stuff you can get with coupons. Diapers are always on a 'deal' and would really supplement your money.



answers from Seattle on

In addition to all of the great ideas you've gotten about saving money, you might want to consider looking into something you can do from home to make extra money, too.

There are a lot of companies who use independent reps/distributors to market their products. Compare the start up costs, sales/purchase quotas, monthly ongoing costs and profit margins of several different companies.

Choose products that you will use yourself, because in addition to earning commissions you will be able to purchase products for your own use at a discount which will help your budget, too.

Another thing you can do is affiliate marketing. You can either buy your own domain name and hosting for about $10 per month or start a blog on a free blog site and include affiliate links that have products that are relevant to your blog topic.

Squidoo is another place where you can earn by creating free webpages (called lenses) about any topic of your choice and add modules for Amazon, eBay, CafePress to earn a commission. You can also include links to your blog, business website or affiliate programs to help you increase traffic and sales to those sites. To see an example of a Squidoo lens, here is a link to one of mine:

Here is a link where you can see all of my lenses:

As you can see from my lenses, you can write about anything you are interested in, your vacation trip, share a favorite recipe, gardening tip or just share information about things that happen in your life.

You can also use these methods to help market products that you are selling as an independent rep or distributor. If you'd like to get started and make your own lens, here is a link:

None of these ideas will make you an overnight millionaire, but if you get started now before you have your baby you can use the time to build and steadily increase your income to help you make some money while you are on maternity leave.

Feel free to contact me if you would like more information!

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