Short Maternity Leave?

(22 Posts)
PandaHeat Mon 12-Nov-12 11:50:54

I am only entitled to statutory maternity leave, but in all honesty we could not afford for me to be off long term as I am the higher earner out of our partnership.
I think, sadly that I will have to go back to work after the 6 weeks at 90% is up.
I am thinking of going back 4 days a week, but initially using the remainder of the years annual leave to bring that down to 2 or 3 days and build up to the 4 days.

DH will also work a 4 day week (self employed) and my Mum will help out the rest of the time.

Is this totally unrealistic?

Having to make the hard choice of putting off TTC as the above is not what either of us wanted for our child but due to meeting later in life, time is not on our side......

janey68 Mon 12-Nov-12 18:07:20

It's doable, and while it's not ideal, if you cant afford longer off then you need to look at it positively and just get on with it.
I would suggest working up to the last possible minute before the birth to maximise time off after. Could you not build up a bit of saving and buy yourself an extra few weeks?
Fwiw all my older work colleagues returned to work when their babies were 12 weeks- I know that still older than yours will be, but it used to be the norm as ML was much shorter. They have all survived and their babies are now healthy happy adults! As a plus, you seem to be able to return part time and your dh will be part time too so will in fact your baby still be spending the vast majority of the week with a parent. And you can express milk too so your child can still be ebf if you want.

There will be some naysayers who try to tell you it's impossible but honestly it isn't. It will be physically tough but you'll get into the swing. As a positive point, your baby will settle far more easily with other carers at this age, as ironically the separation anxiety is worst at around a year (which doesn't tie in well with the longer ML nowadays)

suzyrut Tue 13-Nov-12 17:28:13

hi panda

When I had my daughter (10 years ago now) I only took 6 weeks off in total as I was a contractor and the only wage earner and whilst it is pretty tough it is possible. In real life sometimes needs must and neither of us are scarred for life.

I do think it's worth considering the following though...

1. If you have any pregnancy related complications in the last 4 weeks before your EDD your company can make you begin your maternity leave. Even if you don't you might want to consider whether you can reduce your hours towards the end, as janey says you will probably want to work right to the end but this could make it more manageable especially if you're commuting.
2. My birth was straightforward and I don't know how far along you are or if there are complications, you might want to consider what you would do if things weren't smooth sailing.
3. My hormones were still all over the place at 5 weeks, I toughed it out but it wasn't without the odd cry in the toilets!! Not sure that's much help or what you can do about it but at least if you're prepared for it to be the case you might not find it as tough.

I strongly believe this can be done (I'm proof of that) but I would also try to have a back up plan in case things don't go smoothly and if you could extend it by a week or two in either direction I really would try as it could make all the difference.

Good luck!

PandaHeat Wed 14-Nov-12 10:23:23

Thank you both, I appreciate the responses and honesty.

I am not pg yet, as we want to TTC but didn't want to just jump into it "no matter what" in case we were being incredibly unrealistic about what would be do-able.

Good points about working as late as possible - I had thought of that and thought about just using annual leave to either work shorter days in the late stages or have ad hoc days off.

I work for a small company, and am the only person doing my job so unless I was hospitalised (which I guess is always a remote possibility) they would let me keep working as it would be better to have me some of the time for as long as possible than have me off full stop.

It isn't all doom and gloom, which is what I feared it might be. I know it will be horribly difficult, and I don't doubt that I will be battered emotionally.
I guess I will just need to be prepared, and establish a good routine (which I know is a whole other debate confused )

Rockchick1984 Wed 14-Nov-12 10:43:56

For me personally I couldn't have done it, physically I would have been ok but emotionally I was still struggling just to leave the house! If there is financially no other way around it then you will have to obviously, but remember that potentially you could have to finish work earlier than 40 weeks, and go up to 14 days overdue depending on your PCT. finishing at 37 weeks seemed to be average for my friends with babies (I had to be signed off earlier due to illness) but if you manage to work to 38 weeks (the latest I know anyone IRL worked til) then went overdue, your baby could potentially be 2 weeks old. No way could I have done it then, I physically would have been unable to!

Can't you start saving now, and also review your outgoings? Can you take a payment holiday on your mortgage, any direct debits you could cancel for a month? I once had a month where I knew I would be unlikely to be able to pay my council tax, I rang them and they happily deferred it a month for me so I just got one 'free' month at the end of the tax year rather than 2.

I think the problem is that labour and a newborn are so unpredictable, that you can't know until the time comes if you are able to do it.

BobbiFleckmann Wed 14-Nov-12 10:46:09

I wonder how easy it is to find childcare for a baby that young? i think many nurseries may have a 3month minimum?

wishiwasonholiday Wed 14-Nov-12 10:47:43

I am expecting dc3 and am only going to have a couple of weeks off all being well but I'm a cm so most of my work is just doing stuff I'd do anyway like school runs, toddler groups etc so just means taking a few extrassmile.

Don't think I could go back that early if I worked elsewhere but that's why I'm a cm.

aufaniae Wed 14-Nov-12 10:58:17

Have you got a mortgage?

We found out, totally by accident as it wasn't something that they advertised, that our mortgage company (Halifax) did no-questions-asked mortgage holidays for maternity.

So, we simply didn't pay for 6 months. It made all the difference.

6 weeks is way too early for many mothers to leave their babies. I know some manage it, but you won't know until you get there whether that's you or not.

I'm pregnant this time, and we're still pretty skint! We are going to manage this time by having the baby in our room, and renting the baby's room to a lodger for at least the first 6 months, probably longer. This is a solution which suits us, as we like sharing our home, we already have a lovely lodger who says she can't wait to help with the baby, so it suits us, I know not everyone likes sharing their home. DS didn't move into his room until he was about 18months. The baby having its own room is a luxury IMO. A nice one, but not a necessity. (DS was in with us till he was 18 months+ His room was simply used as storage for his stuff!)

I'm not saying you should get a lodger necessarily. But that you could do with thinking laterally about how you might save or make money.

6 weeks is way too early IMO. Personally, I'd rather give up our house and move in with my parents than leave my baby at 6 weeks. You may feel like that too when it comes to it.

aufaniae Wed 14-Nov-12 11:00:48

"I guess I will just need to be prepared, and establish a good routine (which I know is a whole other debate"

This isn't realistic I'm afraid. No matter how prepared you are, you really won't know how you feel about leaving a baby so young until you get there.

Also, you can't simply put a 6 week old into a routine. Some will be babies who take to routine, some won't. And even those who respond well to routine might not at 6 weeks. Making this an essential part of your plan is a recipe for disaster IMO.

kernowmissvyghen Thu 15-Nov-12 20:45:48

There is no way I would have been fit to work at 6 weeks- i still couldn't manage to drive or walk more than a short distance by that stage. Not to mention the extreme sleep deprivation as a result of having a colicky baby who fed every 2 hours day and night...

Some babies are easy and get into a 4 hourly feeding routine within weeks, some scream for hours every day and are incapable of routine! You can't know which kind you will get. Same goes for the birth really- if you have a traumatic delivery or emergency ceseaean, going back to work at 6 weeks just would not be an option.

Hope that helps- better to know now than have all your plans go down the drain when the baby is actually here!

confusedperson Fri 16-Nov-12 09:09:44

After having 2 DC, 6 weeks, I think, are a bit tough, unless everything goes without a single complication. With my 1st I was not ready to leave the house until 6 weeks, due to difficult birth, infection, excessive bleeding etc. 2nd one was a breeze… was active from day 2, but still at 6 weeks they are so tiny.
Ideally if you looking for short maternity leave I would go for 3 months and just try and save up to cover it.
By the way, sometimes after working out childcare expenses, you just see that staying at home with a baby works out financially better than having full-time childcare.

Rachog Fri 16-Nov-12 09:36:01

I think it is going to be extremely difficult and would seriously consider any and all other options first. I couldn't have left any of my babies at 6 weeks and know many people couldn't.

I second the mortgage holiday, save up like a demon in the meantime, use all of your annual leave to extend it at the end of the six weeks.

Someone upthread made a good point about going overdue.

WalkingSense Wed 21-Nov-12 22:27:05

Actually I am from the Netherlands and Maternity Leave is only 12 weeks. It seems to work fine. However, most mums will return 3 days, then build up to 4 later on. Whereas many dads will also reduce to 4 days for the first 6-12 months. Workplaces are supposed to give you time to express at work, and people doing this would have a nursery nearby work or home (so you can pop over for breastfeeding).

I also do interviews for my webportal http://www.mumandcareer.co.uk and many senior women return after 12 weeks, as they feel they just cannot be away for longer. And of course Marissa Mayer, CEO from Yahoo with back within 2 weeks. It's clearly possible! Although it doesn't say how many days a week, and I am sure, being the boss, she can decide her own hours http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2218262/Yahoo-CEO-Marissa-Mayer-work-time-just-weeks-giving-birth-child.html

I think I was ready at about 12 weeks, to change my focus (albeit not in a full-time job!). 6 weeks is very early. You shouldn't underestimate the impact on your body of giving birth, even if it goes smoothly. And then I am not even talking about hormones.

I am sure it's possible but your own health and the babies health are more important than anything. I'd say try and stretch to 12 weeks, and, as you seem to be pretty much unmissable at work, try and negotiate as much flexibility as you can, so you can do 3 days for a bit longer for instance.

The fact that your husband and family can be flexible is very helpful too, and will make a lot of things easier, especially later on (e.g. 6 months, 12 months). But initially it's your body that needs recovering. Also, if you are breast-feeding (which most people recommend you try and keep it till at least 6 months, if it works well for you and the baby).

Good luck!

janey68 Thu 22-Nov-12 07:11:02

That's interesting walkingsense

Quite a few of my older work colleagues only took 12 weeks ML and one thing they feel is actually an advantage, is that separation anxiety hasn't kicked in, so generally they had hardly any 'settling' in issues with childcare. I took longer than that - around 22 weeks, and I have to say I also found my children settled quickly with their cm. the norm now seems to be to take a year off and ironically around 9 -12 months is considered to be the most tricky time to start leaving a child. So look on it as a positive that you may not have the settling problems many mums do

dottt Sat 24-Nov-12 15:06:01

This is doable. You'll be fine. I had to study and sit professional exams 6 weeks after ds 12 days after dd. we planned it and it went well.

Feeding went fine too expressed and had a freezer full of ebm and we made sure baby was used to a bottle from day dot so there was no bottle refusing.

My body was fine, frankly looking after a baby FT is tougher physically than any job I've ever done!! So away time was a bit more restful.

A bonus for my two was that dh was very involved with the dc while they were small. He did a lot of night feeds and colic pacing which was lovely for all concerned.

Agree its much easier, well it was for me, parting with a younger baby.

aufaniae Sat 24-Nov-12 15:16:43

I think it's unfair to tell the OP that it's doable, particularly for her first baby, just because you managed it.

Many mums would find it impossible to leave such a young baby (including, but by no means only, those who have a difficult time at birth and who are not fully recovered at 6 weeks).

Others would find it doable but totally heartbreaking.

In her shoes, if the issue is purely financial, I think exploring other options such as a mortgage holiday may be a much better solution for her. Or renting a room perhaps (it's what we've done - our baby won't be getting their own room tlll s/he's at least 6 months if not a year or more.)

getagoldtoof Sun 25-Nov-12 15:38:43

aufaniae, we can only go by the experiences of others, what else can we base our views on?

I went back 4 days a week when my son was 4 weeks old. In fact, I was in lectures when he was a week old. Not a huge problem. I left him with DH, so was very lucky in that respect, don't know how easy it would have been to leave him with a relative stranger.

I missed him like crazy, and when he was 8 months I took 6 months off to get a chance to spend some quality time with him. Is that a possibility?

I am so pleased people told me it would be possible. I am so happy we chose to do it that way. I completed my studies and have loads of lovely baby memories too. I found I snapped back to the real world a lot quicker than some of the mums I knew who had babies at the same time as me. I was able to study, work and keep the house in order while maintaining a social life simply because I never let go of all those things.

Feeding was my way of providing for him, so I expressed while at work.

It worked fine for us. I know a couple of childminders who look after tiny babies. They seem to have a lovely bond. This would be the key to making this work, good childcare.

aufaniae Sun 25-Nov-12 16:03:05

There's a difference between saying, "it was possible for me, and could be for you too" or "it was impossible/very hard for me and could be for you too" - which is useful info - and "It's doable, you'll be fine" or "it's impossible you won't be able to do it".

No one knows what the OP will feel like after having a baby, not even the OP! Nor whether her body will be physically able to go back to work so soon.

Nothing wrong with people sharing their experiences. Very unfair IMO to encourage false expectations by making definite statements.

That's what I was trying to say anyway! Hope it makes sense now!

getagoldtoof Sun 25-Nov-12 19:09:53

That does make sense aufaniae, and I hope my experience could be helpful, and of course you are entirely right - OP doesn't know how she will feel until it happens.

All I was saying was that I personally was grateful others had told me it was perfectly manageable, otherwise I would never have done it and would now be looking at retraining and claiming benefits while I did. For me, knowing that others had done it and been fine meant I would be too.

MistressIggi Mon 26-Nov-12 11:42:14

I don't know how "short" time is for you exactly, but if you are fairly young (I've just had dc2 at 42) I would put off ttc for a year and save everything you can so you can take a reasonable maternity leave. Posters on this thread have proved it can be done, but I can't honestly think why you'd want to if you could avoid it. I wanted to take 6 months ml with dc1 and then be full-time - I took ten, and went part-time. With dc2 I knew in advance I'd take a year. Money is so so tight, but as long as we can meet the mortgage it's worth it. Incidentally I recovered in 6 weeks after first c-section, took 3 months for wound to heal after 2nd. How well will you work if up several times a night?

YoullScreamAboutItOneDay Mon 26-Nov-12 13:51:56

I haven't done it - I've taken nearly the year both times. Just as a disclaimer to my level of usefulness!

But, from observing people at work and friends, it seems to make a massive difference if you can get to about 12 weeks off. By around the three month mark a lot of babies get more predictable, get night and day a bit more sussed (likely to still be waking, but might be more predictable about it), and most people have recovered physically from the birth. You also don't feel quite so shell shocked about new motherhood.

In fact, I think about 20 years ago three months was what you got for maternity leave.

If you used a couple of weeks of holiday and maybe tried to save really hard, it could make a big difference being able to take just that little bit longer. As others have said, you might well be able to get a one month mortgage holiday if you are a home owner. Even if they don't normally do them, I know someone who got one for two months from their bank ad-hoc.

fledtoscotland Mon 26-Nov-12 19:08:27

I wouldn't have been physically able to return to work after either birth. DS1 was a traumatic delivery with stitches which got infected. DS2 was c-section so not able to drive for 6wks let alone work. I bled for nearly 6wks after both boys and had severe after pains with ds2. It was probably 8wks before I was really up and about as normal.

I know some woman give birth without any complications /interventions but any birth requires some recovery period mentally and physically

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