A reader wrote in:
Hi there, my question is about the leave prior to delivery, should I take advantage of the 4 weeks prior to delivery? I work as a dental hygienst and planning to work up till 39 weeks, taking the last week off. I’m a first time mom, so I am confused a bit. Please help me in deciding how I should approach this situation. Thank you!
4 weeks before delivery is use or lose
Remember that your due date is just an estimate of when your baby decides she wants to be born. Even though you might want to work up until the 39th week, your baby might decide to make an early appearance. If your baby is born before you start your maternity leave, you do not get to tack on the 4 weeks to the end of your maternity leave after birth to extend it. It is use it or lose it.
This happened to me, so I ended up not getting any rest to prepare for my baby. I went from working to going to the hospital on my last week before starting maternity leave.
Financial impact if your baby is late and you start maternity leave early
At time same time, you also need to consider what happens financially if your baby is late. Typically a doctor would induce labor if you are 2 weeks pass your due date. Let’s say you are two weeks late for this discussion.
If you are two weeks late, SDI would still continue to pay your maternity leave benefits (you’ll have to do more paperwork) at 55% of your pay. But you need to come up with 45% if you want a full paycheck for the two weeks your baby is late.
If you have plenty of sick leave or vacation, starting your maternity leave earlier might not be a problem. However, if you only have a limited amount of sick leave or vacation that you plan to use after delivery, then you might have to take a pay cut if your baby is late and you already taken the 4 weeks prior to delivery off.
It’s not all about the money
As a first time mom, I felt guilty for wanting to start my maternity leave before the “normal” (as my HR department calls it) 2 weeks off. As if all my years of dedicated service to my job is called into question just because I want to rest and prepare for the baby. At same time, I felt like my co-workers would think I am a slacker for wanting to take more time off.
People have short memories. A few months after you come back from maternity leave, they would have forgotten about it.
The last month of my pregnancy was hard because I was exhausted from not getting enough rest (she wanted to play when I sleep), anxious from the upcoming birth, and fearful that I am not prepare to be a mom.
As a I mentioned before, I ended up working up until I gave birth. I wish I started my maternity leave 4 weeks prior to delivery so I would be able to just rest and relax at home before the demanding nursing schedule of a newborn. However, a few of my friends prefer to work because they want to stay busy and not think about the delivery.
So it all depends on your personality. Are you the type that need to stay busy? Are you getting enough rest in the 3rd trimester?
Besides, it is not like you have to decide right now. You just need to give your employer 30 day notice to start maternity leave.
Good luck on deciding when to start maternity leave. Just make sure to install that carseat no later than a month before your due date.
To find out about how to make the most of your maternity leave and enjoy the time with your baby, you need to watch this. I watched this video in my birthing class and it made a huge difference on how to get our baby adjusted to being outside the womb and to stop crying. His method really works!
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