Well into the third trimester of pregnancy, it is time to take a call on maternity leave. The length of maternity leave is going to depend from person to person. While some may opt to work right up until the last few days of the pregnancy, or in some cases, even hours before they go into labor, others take a few weeks off to rest up and get prepared for childbirth.
When to take maternity leave depends on many factors, including financial status and the employer, how much time can be given off, and whether the maternity leave will be paid or unpaid. The usual time that the maternity leave starts is about 34 weeks into the pregnancy or about six weeks before the child is due to be born.
While taking time off is dependent entirely upon the individual, typical maternity leaves can last anywhere up to 12 weeks post-giving birth. This is a good time for the mother to bond with her child and take care of any other household chores that need attending.
While some mothers report being bored during maternity leave, a variety of activities can be carried out during this time that is good for both the mother and the child in the long run. The things to do during maternity leave can be broadly classified into three categories: before childbirth, essentials, and fun activities.
If a mother decides to start her maternity leave in the weeks leading up to childbirth and has a bit of time on her hands before the little one arrives, it is an excellent time to prepare for the baby’s arrival. So here are some of the little things to pay attention to during this period.
Learn to switch off: Some women may find it difficult to adjust to the new routine of not working. A routine that has been set up over the years is not easy to let go of, and people are known to reach for their smartphones to check work emails constantly. Maternity leave is a period where one can completely disconnect from work, which should be made the most of. Boredom can kick in, and it is not uncommon to miss work life. Letting teammates and co-workers know that the intention is to disconnect completely is considered normal and healthy and not something that will be frowned upon. So, take this opportunity to take a break from work.
Get ready for the big day: Even the most well-laid out plans can go awry during the time that labor kicks in, so it is better to have backups and alternate strategies in place. If you are planning to use the services of a hospital, a packed bag for the hospital is the first thing on this list. Prepare to spend a couple of days in the hospital, with enough clothes for both mom and baby, napkins, diapers, and all the other essentials that may be needed. A good idea is to leave this by the door, so it can be picked up on the way out. Alternate routes to the hospital in case of any roadblocks should be charted out.
A strategy for a home birth, in case the need arises. In case you have opted for a home birth, use this time to check the credentials of your professional midwife or doula, fix your appointments, and find out what preparations you should make for the day. You can also sign up for breathing, yoga, or pre-natal classes based on the advice given by your qualified professional. Choose the room that you would prefer to give birth in, and make sure that all the necessary things are kept in readiness for the midwife, doula, and your helpers. The time that labor kicks in can take anyone by surprise, and it is way better to be overprepared than under.
Double-check, then check again: The packed bag, recheck it. Comfortable bedding; recheck it. Has the rocker been assembled? Check again. Are there enough clothes, pacifiers, diapers? Humans tend to forget and overlook things, and it never hurts to check again.
Get yourself ready: The weeks following childbirth will usually be hectic. Time flies even before you even know it, and suddenly, it will be time to get back to work. Now is a good time to do some things that one may not have had the opportunity to do in quite some time. Spend a day in the parlor getting a haircut, getting nails done, or a complete spa experience. Go shopping for essentials that may be needed after the baby arrives. Spend some time with friends and family, as going out again may take some time. And the most important one of all, get some rest before the child arrives, as your body and mind will crave it in the weeks to come.
The childbirth is over, and now comes the most crucial time to bond, care, and nurture the new little bundle of joy. While it either may feel like there is no time for anything, some others do not know what to do with the amount of time that is suddenly in their hands. This is where some essential activities come in during maternity leave.
Rest: A new mother will soon be tired of hearing the same thing over and over from well-wishers, but rest happens to be an essential thing after childbirth. Also, one can never seem to get enough, as the mother will have to follow the newborn’s sleep schedule as well. Even when feeling well-rested, a mother must rest as much as she can. Other pending work can take a backseat or be delegated, like cleaning the kitchen or washing dishes. With the body going through so many changes during pregnancy and childbirth, postpartum recovery is vital in resetting the body. Self-care is paramount during the months post-childbirth, and once the maternity leave ends and work begins, one may not find enough time to get adequate rest.
Get some help: it is crucial to get adequate rest during the first few months after pregnancy, especially during maternity leave. There might be various things to do around the house, like laundry and dishes other than caring for the baby. Now is an excellent time to get some help around the house while taking care of the baby. This can be in the form of house help or parents or relatives willing to come in for a couple of hours and get some work done.
Take a break: It is important to break from the daily routine that seems infinitely repetitive. Allocate about a half-hour every day to at least get out and take a walk around the block or do some stretching or yoga. This will go a long way in improving health and also a little mental break from daily activities.
Day-care prep: Maternity leave is also an excellent time to get the baby used to a nanny or someone else that will take care of the baby when you return to work. This gives the mother ample time to figure out what works and what does not. It also gives enough time for the nanny to adjust to the feeding and sleeping schedules, changing times, and other things that have to be paid specific attention to.
Get used to pumping: The brand-new breast pump has been bought I have never used yet. Maternity leave is an ideal time to test out the equipment and figure out if everything fits. However, it can turn out to be a pain if the first time the equipment is tried out is the day before you are expected back at work. A couple of sample runs with the device will also help figure out how long to pump to get the desired volume of milk.
While most postpartum time is taken in caring for the baby, the mother needs to have some time off. Some of these activities will help take some time off and keep a fresh mind on the days the going gets tough. After all, this period lasts only a short while, and every mom must enjoy it, whether first-time mother or not.
Keep a Journal: Writing down the events of the day or every week will someday come in handy to relive these cherished memories. In this day and age of smartphones, many mothers keep photo journals of the time spent with the newborn. In addition, some mothers like to set goals for how they want to take care of their baby and how the child should grow up. Writing these thoughts down can help remember them over a more extended period and can also help in improving mood.
Join a New Mothers group: A small set of new friends going through the same thing together can be a welcome change from the mundane. Joining a new mother group will help with this. This is especially useful for little tips and tricks, brands that people in the vicinity use, new equipment and toys, and so on. In addition, these groups tend to be incredibly informational.
Invite some friends and family: While the steady stream of visitors seems to trickle down after a couple of months, an excellent way to unwind is to invite some friends and family over to spend some time together. In addition, it will help the mother get her mind off things and get some much-needed help with the baby.
Have a date with the husband: Going out for a meal limited to very low or not at all is a good time to rekindle the romance with the husband with a romantic night at home. A couple of candles and a lovely meal ordered in can do the trick and give the mother a chance to relax.
Take a trip: This is the best thing one can do towards the end of their maternity leave. It might take some time to get used to the idea due to low energy levels and the body still in recovery, but a trip will leave one feeling refreshed and ready to go back to work. The trip itself does not have to be a long one; even a weekend away from home will do the trick. And the best part: the baby travels free on the plane!
Maternity leave can be quite an enjoyable time, and how each one spends is up to them. Remember that this is a great time to seal the bond with the baby, and when work starts, this quality time will be missed. So, enjoy it to the fullest.