Women who get maternity leave are lucky, at least in the United States. There’s no guarantee of paid leave here.
As a result, 1 in 4 American women return to work within 10 days of giving birth. The Family Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. That’s not realistic for most families.
If you do get paid time off, it may only be 6 weeks paid maternity leave. That means making the most of it is even more critical than usual.
Some confusion is natural. Keep reading for the basics of what you should prioritize during your brief maternity leave.
Understanding Maternity Leave Laws
The bad news is that there’s no federal maternity leave policy. But there are 18 states that do have more generous maternity leave laws.
In California, you can get about two-thirds of your pay, for a maximum of $490 a week. The payments or possible for a maximum of four months, or however long you’re disabled due to pregnancy and childbirth.
To qualify, you must work for a business with at least five employees. Other states require you to have worked in one place for a specific amount of time before you’re eligible.
Some companies will give employees more than what’s required by law. For instance, a few companies give out paternity leave to fathers as well as mothers.
Your company might have a very different policy than the business across the street. That’s why you should sit down with your HR department well before your due date.
Go over your company’s maternity leave rules. If there’s no official paid maternity leave, you may still be able to cobble together something through a mix of vacation days, sick days, and FMLA time.
Making the Most of Your Time Off
Your biggest job during maternity leave is healing from pregnancy and childbirth. Those nine months or so are hard on your body.
But whatever time you get is also about adjusting to life as a new parent. If you have a husband or partner, you’ll need to try and figure out a new routine.
Keep in mind that the first few weeks are often hard and disorienting. No one is sleeping much.
Remember that every other parent has taken the same crash course that you’re about to embark upon. Difficult is not the same thing as impossible.
There will also be some genuinely heartwarming moments during your maternity leave. You might see your baby’s first true smile, for instance.
It will all seem like a blur in retrospect. That’s why you should hire a newborn photographer to get some images of your new family before you go back to work.
Don’t worry about looking tired in the photos. The first photos of your new family unit are still incredibly special.
They’ll also give you something to show off to your coworkers on your first day back in the office.
Beyond Maternity Leave
Many women find their maternity leave is too short, and their maternity leave pay is too stingy. If you feel frustrated, you’re not alone,
You can still get some things done, but don’t feel bad if you don’t get everything done. Being a parent means always having a few things left on your to-do list.
Motherhood is a big adjustment, but we can help. Bookmark our lifestyle section for more parenting tips.