Maximise your maternity leave


Before baby

Depending on your company’s policies, you might try to work right up until your due date, in order to maximise the amount of time you spend with your baby. But it may be worth taking a week or so off work before your baby’s born, to relax – and sort out all your admin.

While things like finalising your maternity leave and doctors’ appointments can probably be done from work, if you haven’t had time to devote a weekend to your nursery yet, then you’re going to want to set this up.

It’s also a good idea to cook and freeze meals for once you get home from the hospital, because trust us, the honeymoon period of gifts and meals from friends and family eventually wears off. Also, use this time before your baby arrives to test out your baby gear.

Prams, car seats, baby monitors, bottle sterilisers, and camp cots – they’re a lot harder to figure out than they look. Practise things like setting up the pram or correctly inserting the car seat.

Once baby's here

Once your baby has arrived, you may hear people talking about the “fourth trimester” and wonder how on earth anyone could be pregnant for over a year.

But the fourth trimester is actually your baby’s first three months, where you need to think of him or her as if they were still in the womb. Now is not the time to try and implement routine and structure into your baby’s life.

Rather, it’s the time to feed on demand, sleep whenever you both want to, and kiss, cuddle and rock your baby who wants to be close to you, as much as possible. You can’t spoil a newborn baby. This is what your maternity leave is for and why you’ve been given the go ahead to hibernate. You never get this time back, so enjoy it.

Before you go back to work

You’re going to have to face reality eventually, and right before you go back to work, you’ll need to get your baby to take a bottle and learn to express your milk. If you want to continue breastfeeding, then make sure you have a good breastpump and know how to use it.

Also, start storing some milk in the freezer (in a proper freezer it lasts up to six months), in case you’re called in to a last minute meeting or get stuck in traffic. It’s also vital that you talk to your partner about how you plan to share the responsibilities at home once real life starts.

If you both work full time, then it’s an equal game you’re playing, and he needs to be on board to split all duties with you evenly.

Finalising maternity leave with the boss

You’ve probably told your boss that you are pregnant, but have you finalised your maternity leave plans? Book an appointment with your employer well before the day of your departure.

When you meet, keep it professional. Before the meeting, re-read your contract, or speak to your HR department to see what maternity leave or parental policies you are eligible for.

Come prepared with your exact dates and reassure your boss that you are committed to your job. Ensure that you are both clear on who will handle your work. Let your boss know if you will access work emails or not.

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