Making The Most Of Maternity Leave

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After the birth of a child, most women need to take some time off from work to recover.  In the United States, this is known as maternity leave.  Usually, maternity leave lasts for 6 weeks after birth.  If you’ve had a complicated birth, maternity leave may last for 8 weeks.  If your company meets certain criteria, you’ll be allowed to take a 12 week leave of absence.  This is usually an unpaid leave however. 

Besides taking care of your baby and getting the rest you need to help your body heal, you can use your maternity leave to further your career goals as well.

Consider Your Options

Many women find themselves considering new career options during maternity leave.  For some, it’s a purely economic decision.  Due to high daycare costs, you may discover that most of your take home pay will be used to cover the costs of paying someone to watch your child while you work.   If your baby has some handicaps or health issues, this further complicates things.

Take some time during maternity leave to consider your current job.  Is your boss understanding of the fact that you may need to take some time off  to handle “kid issues”?  Some bosses are not so understanding.  If not, take the time now to explore other career options.

Many moms begin to check out “work at home” options and some create telecommuting proposals to pitch to their bosses.  This is a great time to do these things.

I have known moms that use the 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave as a testing ground of sorts.  Some found that they could survive on one income more easily than they thought; one of my friends did not return to work after her maternity leave.  Another friend of mine did return to work, but her husband quit his job to stay at home with their child.

Keep Current

Stay in touch with your co-workers and your boss.  Six to twelve weeks is a long time to be out of the loop!  Some women I know actually stop by the office for a few hours a week just to catch up on current projects and to stay current with new office policies and information.  This is a great idea.

Keep in touch with major clients during your maternity leave if possible.  Let them know when you’ll be back at work; offer to help bridge the gap with the temporary project manager if necessary.

Above all else, enjoy this time with your infant.  It will pass very quickly!

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