When you’re working and expecting, it’s important to plan your maternity leave with the same level of detail as your baby’s arrival.

Follow these guidelines to prepare for a smooth transition.


10 Steps to Plan for Your Maternity Leave

Step 1: Know Your Rights

According to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), if you’ve worked at the same company for one year or longer, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. However, that only applies to companies with at least 50 employees; smaller companies may have different expectations and regulations.

Other laws that protect your rights as a new or expectant mom include the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) and the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.

Familiarize yourself with all four laws so you’re prepared for a conversation with your employer.


Step 2: Talk with Your Boss

It’s best to tell your boss about your pregnancy as early as possible so you can both begin planning for your maternity leave and transitioning your workload.

A few tips:

  • If you intend to come back to work after your leave, make that abundantly clear to HR and management.
  • Emphasize your commitment to the company and your team.
  • Reassure them that you’ll develop a comprehensive plan so that things continue to run smoothly in your absence.


Step 3: Consult with Your Peers

Do you work with other moms? Ask them about their maternity leave. What did they like about it? What would they do differently?

That extra insight will be helpful as you’re planning for your little one’s arrival. Just remember to take all advice with a grain of salt. What worked best for one family may not work best for yours.


Step 4: Nail Down the Basics

Start by determining how much time you’d like to take off and if you can afford it. Will you want a few days off before your baby arrives or would you prefer to work as close to your due date as possible to maximize time with your newborn? How accessible do you plan to be to your colleagues while you’re away? Is working remotely before or after your leave an option?

Next, make a list of your responsibilities and talk with your boss about who can take over while you’re out. If there’s no other employee with the bandwidth or expertise to take on your workload, you may suggest hiring a temporary replacement.


Step 5: Prepare Your Team

Once you know who will take over for you in your absence, take sufficient time to train them so they’re comfortable and confident.

If you have a team that reports to you, have candid conversations with them about your leave and how it may affect them. Reassure them of your support and show them how this is an opportunity to step up and take on more responsibility. Consider designating a point person to filter and escalate absolute emergencies to you as needed.


Step 6: Communicate with Clients, Partners and Vendors

Notify clients about your maternity leave as early as possible. In the months leading up to your leave, introduce each client to the team member they’ll be working with so you can iron out any wrinkles before your absence.

You should also let partners and vendors know about your leave and who they can work with while you’re out.


Step 7: Allow Some Flexibility in Your Plan

Having a baby can be unpredictable, from the due date to the baby’s sleeping habits to breastfeeding. Stubbornly holding onto a plan that isn’t working will only add to your stress.

So, remind yourself to be flexible and cut yourself some slack. Keep your sights set on what’s most important: getting comfortable in your new role and bonding with your little one.


Step 8: Consider Childcare

It’s never too early to look into childcare. Find providers near you that have capacity and offer everything you want and need for your newborn.

Once you’ve identified a few candidates, schedule meetings to find the childcare provider that fits your family the best.


Step 9: Plan for Your Return

Your discussion about your maternity leave should also include the plan for your return.

  • Will your working hours be the same?
  • Can you work remotely as needed?
  • Will you have the same responsibilities and workload as you did previously? Will the transition be gradual or abrupt?
  • How will breastfeeding and pumping breaks fit into your day? Is there a designated area where you can take those breaks?

A week or two before you return to work, schedule a meeting with your boss to review these details again and ensure nothing has changed.


Step 10: Identify the Support You’ll Need at Home

As you anticipate your baby’s arrival, it’s easy to only focus on your child. But don’t forget about other details that are important for a stress-free maternity leave, like identifying friends and family who can assist with meals, overnight support, transportation and grocery runs.


Looking for an OBGYN in the Southgate or Brownstown area?

Click here to schedule an appointment with Northline Women’s Health Center and get the expert medical care you need for a smooth pregnancy and delivery.


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