How early to go out on maternity leave?

  1. I met with HR last week to talk about my maternity leave benefits. I'm in California, so we have state disability and family leave, which is better than FMLA benefits, since they actually provide some pay.

    In addition, my company has a pretty generous benefit that they call a "reserve illness account" that can be used only for a serious illness of over a week. It's fully paid time. I have 10-12 weeks of this time accrued, since I've been here >5 years. To be honest, I've always wondered when I was going to be able to use it, so I'm excited to finally get a chance to tap into it.

    The time can only be used concurrently with disability time, which means I can only use it for 6 weeks after the birth (assuming a vaginal birth, 8 for c-section.) So, given this time off, I could go out 6 weeks early and be fully paid for that time, provided my doctor will write me out as disabled, which I think he will if I explain. There's no way to shift it to be extra time after the birth, or I would totally do that.

    However, I wonder if I should go out so early. Will I drive myself nuts being out six weeks before baby comes? Would four weeks be more reasonable? The nursery is really, really NOT ready (crib ordered but not received, changing table selected but not ordered, no idea on the rocker/glider, not painted -- but I do have my crib bedding!) I don't have any friends who don't work and my family isn't local, so I'll be mainly on my own.
  2. I am going out 4 weeks before my due date - believe me, that last month is so uncomfortable, if you have an opportunity to take 6 weeks for yourself before baby, take it, you will really appreciate having it and not having to drag your body to work that last month...
  3. I think your leave time depends on your comfort level. I get approx. 18 paid weeks of time off thru my employer. 75% of that is f/t pay and the balance is at 75% pay. I also have to add sick time and vacation not to mention FMLA.

    I'm due to give birth any second now but I'm still working because I want to spend as much time as I can with the baby. My pg has also been pretty easy and that was the major contributing factor to my decision.

    If this is your first pg then maybe you should take early leave. There are a ton of preparations to make before the baby so it's doubtful you'll be bored. Ultimately you have to decide what's best for you though.
  4. harlem_cutie, that's fantastic that you get 18 weeks of paid leave!! I was excited that I get 18 weeks afterward with job protection, but it's definitely not all paid, so you definitely have a better deal!! Are you in the US?

    It's so hard to figure this out in advance, since I'm just starting my third trimester now, but I need to talk to my boss soon, and I need to give our "absence management" company 30 days' notice before I go out, so I need to get this figured out soon.

    I'd love to hear more of what other people have done - thanks for sharing!
  5. ^^ Kimberf, I work in Manhattan. I'm ecstatic to work for a very generous employer that promotes work/life balance. They also give 6 weeks of paid paternity leave.

    As far as giving 30 days' notice, I believe that as long as you have medical paperwork, especially since pregnancies vary so much, you can leave as long as it's medically necessary. They just may not be able to pay you in time.

    2007 was the year of babies at my job (i-bank) and most of the ladies worked until their 36th week or so and then went out on leave. I also had quite a few ladies that worked part-time in their third trimester. Once the lower back pain kicks in it is very hard to be at a desk job. Disability is usually only given to C-sections. From what I hear it is hard to get it extended for normal births. But that may just be NYS law.

    Good luck to you whatever your decision.:flowers:
  6. Take all the time you can!
  7. That's a tough question to answer because it varies by person. I had to go out 6 weeks early because, though my pregnancy was easy, I began to have trouble walking (sciatica). I hated it. It drove me nuts and there was nothing for me to do. Dh did everything (baby room and so forth) and didn't want me to lift a finger. I wanted to work all the way to the end. We just have a 4yr old dd, but we're trying for a second now.
  8. If you are not uncomfortable, I wouldn't take the whole 6 weeks personally. I might take 3-4 weeks though.
    What if something comes up in a few months and you really need that time and it's gone?
    In most healthy pregnancies we're still relatively comfortble up until a few weeks before delivery.
    If your job isn't stressful or strenuous, I'd take a good portion of it but maybe not all of it.
  9. I took 4 weeks with my first and it drove me nuts. Part of the reason was that I was 2 weeks late so it ended up being 6 weeks! I was used to working and my friends/family were all working as well so I was completely alone during the day. With my second, I left 3 weeks early but was 8 days late so I was at home for 4 weeks before the birth. This time though, I found I needed it because I was exhausted from working all day and then taking care of my son all afternoon and evening. When I went on leave, I could nap when he was napping so I got some rest. Honestly, if you can't shift the extra time to after the birth, I would take 3-4 weeks off. The last month is really draining and exhausting and you will need extra rest. Not to mention the fact that I could no longer sleep at night in the last month of pregnancy so being home to nap helped a lot. I can't believe that some of you have to go back to work so quickly after the birth. Up here, we are very lucky in that we have 2 YEARS of maternity leave. One year is paid leave and if you want, you can take another year of unpaid leave. The government subsidizes our pay so that we make 95% of our salary for 16 weeks and then 75% of our salary for the remaining 36 weeks.
  10. Thanks ladies, that's basically exactly what I was leaning toward. I'll take 3-4 weeks, I think. That way if baby is late or I have a c-section, I have extra time afterward. The issue is, really, this time is so hard to use otherwise -- you have to be out sick for a week before you can start to use it, you can only use half of it for a family illness -- and they're going to change our benefits soon so it's accrued differently, so I'm a little reluctant to just leave the time on the table. But I think that 3-4 weeks will be plenty of time, and then I have a couple of weeks' cushion in case the schedule doesn't work out as planned or there's a problem.

    And, biggestbaglover, I need to move to Canada! I've seen quite a few studies about how the US has the worst maternity benefits of any developed nation (and worse than quite a few developing nations, in fact!!) I'm lucky that I live in California, other states are even worse, but it's still pretty poor overall! Thankfully, if push comes to shove, I have the option of just not going back at all because DH makes enough to support us, but I'd much rather just be able to stay out for a year or so without having to make such a decision.
  11. Oh, and believe it or not, it's better than it used to be here. My mom took FIVE DAYS after she had me. She was a teacher, and I was born Dec. 21, so they told her she had to be back after Christmas break if she wanted to keep her job. Now that is just shameful!
  12. Only a male-dominated society could ever expect a woman to come back to work after giving birth five days prior! That's ridiculous!

  13. I am a teacher too. The benefits that I told you about are actually available to everyone but in teaching we also have an added bonus. We have the ability to take a parental leave for 5 years. The first year is paid, like I said. The second year is unpaid but your job is held for you in its entirety at your school. If you want to stay home longer, you can stay home for an additional 3 years. Your job, as you know it, in your school will be given away but you still have a contract with your district employer and they will place you in another school within the district after those five years. So, essentially, you coudl stay home until your kids are in school. Unfortunately, I will head back to work half time (every other day) in June and stay at home the other days. I can't take anymore than the one year off because it is just too much of a financial hit but if someone's spouse makes enough to support the family, a teacher up here can stay off for 5 years and then return to work. We really are very lucky.
  14. It's so nice that you have the ability to take some time both before and after the birth of your baby, and I think you're absolutely balancing the time before and after correctly! My employer only follows FMLA, so I could only take 12 weeks unpaid - I'm actually returning at the end of this month (what I;m going to wear remains a mystery). I was able to accure a little less than 4 weeks of vaca/sick time, so that was better than nothing - I had a previous employer who didn't qualify for FMLA and not only wouldn't pay me, but wanted me back in 6 weeks.

    biggestbaglover - I'm totally jealous of you! I would love to be able to take a year with pay off! Good for you - teachers deserve all the rest they can get (I teach, but it's in a private post-secondary/career school, so we don't get benefits like that)!

    kimberf - that's unbelieveable about your mom. I agree with rockstar's sentiment!
  15. I worked up until both kids were born (2 days before they were both born) since I wanted to have the time afterwards. My job is pretty stressful and my 2nd pregnancy was a nightmare so my doctor almost put me on bed rest. That threat made me change my whole outlook and I was able to get my Blood Pressure down. Working up until 2 days before delivery enabled me to stay home 4.5 months with baby girl and 3.5 months with baby boy. In order to stay out with pay I had to use all the sick/vacation leave I had accrued working as a state worker for 10 months. I just went back to work this week and now have only 12 days of vacation left.

    I always joke with my husband that if men gave birth maternity leave would start at conception and be paid until the kid turned 5.