These days, more women than ever are playing important roles in the workforce. Therefore, when a woman gets pregnant, it is often necessary to take time off from work as a result. This is known as a maternity leave and it is a legal right of all expectant mothers in the UK. Specifically, women are entitled to up to 39 weeks of paid leave; full details of entitlement is given in this government publication. This time is meant to give the soon-to-be-parent time to prepare for bringing a child into the world and time to care for and bond with the child once he or she is born.
As soon as you know that you are pregnant, you may find yourself feeling stressed out about having to talk to your boss about going on a leave. The fact is that this is not something you should be worried about; whilst your boss may not be thrilled about the idea of your absence, the law states that you have a right to take time off. At the end of the day, you and your child should be held at a higher priority over your job.
You should speak to your boss about your maternity leave when you are ready, but you should not wait until it is already obvious that you are showing. When the time comes, ask your boss to set aside some time for a one-on-one meeting and then work out a tentative schedule regarding when you will be taking your leave and who will take on your role while you are gone. By having a detailed plan in place and informing your fellow co-workers of this plan, it will be easier for them to handle your absence.
In general, it is a good idea to begin your maternity leave slightly before your expected due date. This will give you time to prepare your both physically and mentally for the baby to arrive, and should eliminate the possibility of you going into labour whilst at work.
For the majority of your leave, however, you are likely going to want to be at home with your newborn child. This way, you can take time to simply be a mother, bond with your child, and get comfortable with feeding, changing nappies, and the like. Be sure that, once your maternity leave is coming to an end, you have plans for child care during the day while you are away at work. Whether you plan on hiring a nanny or having your husband stay home with your child, you will want to have this arranged well ahead of time.
Taking maternity leave is essential for most pregnant women, but it is something that should be done only with careful planning with your place of employment.
Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind.
Our children’s welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.