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Is maternity leave really a break?

(122 Posts)
FormerlyKnownAsPrincessChick Wed 10-Apr-13 15:34:17

I've had it from several people. Basically, it would seem that maternity leave is like a jolly long holiday where I will be enjoying lie-ins, followed by slobbing around on the sofa all day drinking tea, eating cake, watching homes under the hammer or else going out for yummy mummy lunches and generally having a lovely break from it all.

Now, I do kind of expect to end up slobbing on the sofa all day drinking tea, eating cake and watching homes under the hammer but with a baby on my boob and matchsticks in my eyes, hormonally weeping at the lovely job that couple have made of that bathroom, worrying if bright yellow poo is normal or an indication of something very, very wrong with the baby whilst nursing a very sore fanjo.... Also, given that maternity pay isn't loads and loads I can't see that I will be going out for lunch at all (unless it's sarnies in the park or similar)....

Obviously very grateful that I'll have paid time off work to look after my baby and can't wait to bond with him / her. But I kind of think that regular work is probably easier than having a new responsibility 24/7? Am I wrong? Is it going to be a nice long break from it all?

AIBU to think that maternity leave isn't really a break / extended holiday?

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 16:00:42

The thing is, people are comparing maternity break with work without a baby. If you were to go back after 2 weeks, you will be having no sleep all night + meeting those performance targets and deadlines. Just because you went back to work doesn't stop you being a mum.

With that, it is why most try to take as much maternity as possible. Hopefully by the time you return to work, the baby no longer wakes up every 2 hours. Or was up all evening when not cuddled.

Groovee Wed 10-Apr-13 16:01:17

My maternity leave with dd was just 18 weeks in the days when you got 14 weeks, I was taking 4 weeks unpaid. Left 4 weeks before she was due. Planned lazy mornings and wandering round the shops getting everything I needed.

I left work at 4.30pm... went to the dr at 5pm.. sent direct to hospital and admitted by 6pm with pre-eclampsia. She was born 11 days later. I still resent that I missed out buying all my stuff as MIL had to do it all.

So not it wasn't a nice break.

melonribena Wed 10-Apr-13 16:01:24

I'm currently on mat leave. The first 6 wks before I had the baby were bliss. Make the most of them!
The next 6 months were incredibly hard work, but it gradually gets easier until one day you realise this!
I'm really enjoying the second 6 mths but am also looking forward to going back to work.
I love my job and I think I would feel differently if I didn't.
I make sure I keep busy or I think my brain would rot too, but it is wonderful to spend every day pottering with your gorgeous little one!

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 10-Apr-13 16:01:41

I mean it's much much harder to be a mum to a newborn that has to go to work, vs one on maternity leave.

vj32 Wed 10-Apr-13 16:02:01

I took ML at 29 weeks because I was so ill and had a long commute. Then a couple of weeks later, after a lot of rest, felt really well. So that was a jolly, yes. Once baby arrived, no.

I now have a nearly 2 year old who runs around all the time, and I certainly enjoy going to work for the rest. Our work closed for a snow day this year. I think I was the only one who wasn't pleased. A day stuck in the house (most of the day, bar a couple of short walks in the snow) with a toddler who won't sit still - horrible.

yellowhousewithareddoor Wed 10-Apr-13 16:03:08

Depends on a lot - support network, family, friends, transport, and most importantly sleep. After 12 months of sleep deprivation and no support I was ready to give the baby away.

Arcticwaffle Wed 10-Apr-13 16:03:50

No. Even with a cheery baby who slept through the night, it was still a break to go back to work after maternity leave.

For years I LOVED Monday mornings, back in the office with a cup of coffee and noone tugging at me.

MarianaTrench Wed 10-Apr-13 16:04:04

The first 4 months were gruelling but after that it was ok. I love my job though and find work much easier than being at home with a demanding 3 year old.

motherinferior Wed 10-Apr-13 16:10:06

It would have been fine without the baby. And the stitches. And the sleeplessness. And the feeling as if I'd been kicked in the stomach by a horse (although admittedly that did decline after the first month). And the constant, dreadful worry that my life as I knew it was in fact completely wrecked. And the concerns about the baby dying every time I took my eye off her. And the utter utter isolation and loneliness.

Those do not, to my mind, constitute a 'break'.

stargirl1701 Wed 10-Apr-13 16:14:55

7 months in. It's not been a break. Baby has silent reflux. Often spends 8/9/10 hours a day screaming. Never sleeps longer than 90 minutes. It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life. Not enjoyable at all.

kalidasa Wed 10-Apr-13 16:19:21

I'm with motherinferior. I started back at work last week. Baby is four and a half months old. I don't think I have ever been so relieved in my life! Personally, I would MUCH MUCH rather go to work after a scant four hours' (interrupted) sleep than spend an entire day with a wakeful baby who needs frequent feeding, constant stimulation and emotional input and who will only nap properly when being pushed in the pram (and this winter that almost always meant through the sleet/snow/pouring rain).

But I am jaded from a horrible pregnancy and some PND. Most of the other women from my NCT group seem to be enjoying maternity leave at least to some extent. So I think it probably depends. Maybe if I'd stuck it out longer I would have reached the more enjoyable bit, but as I was off sick my entire pregnancy it's been over a year now anyway and I really was on the verge of going completely mad.

kalidasa Wed 10-Apr-13 16:20:53

Just read the rest of this thread. There should be a 'hating maternity leave' thread on here for solidarity!

sittinginthesun Wed 10-Apr-13 16:22:08

Depends on your baby, and your health. I took 6 months first time, 7 months second time. Both were the most knackering, exhausting times of my entire life. I spent at least half my time in tears.

Sorry. smilesmilesmile

Wishihadabs Wed 10-Apr-13 16:22:22

Depends on the job and the baby. 1st time round was a walk in the park frankly. But then I have an uber physical job with anti-social hours.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Wed 10-Apr-13 16:30:18

I have now read some more replies and I want to emphasise the money worries part. DH and I are shit with money at the best of times. Take £1000 a month out of our joint income and things start to spiral out of control very quickly. I couldn't do anything or go anywhere. We have one car between us and if I wanted it I had to get up with DH and drive him to work, and then go back (round trip of an hour) to get him at the end of the day. However, we live in the middle of nowhere with no public transport, so I had the choice of sitting in the house or walking the dog in the empty countryside. If I did make the effort to have the car, it used twice as much petrol as DH's normal commute before I'd even gone anywhere. When your baby has been up every 90 mins all night the last thing you want to do is drive for an hour first thing.

FormerlyKnownAsPrincessChick Wed 10-Apr-13 16:31:55

Job is fairly easy (and I have the huge perk of working from home); baby temperament is obviously a massive unknown.

We try and live by the saying "plan for the worst, hope for the best". So, I guess what you are all saying fits in neatly with this. Plan for feeling wretched and having a baby that screams all the time; hope for a magic sleeping baby that feeds and plays nicely most of the time.

Sorry to those of you who have had really difficult times / PND.

I guess I'll just have to wait and see! I am excited but I am also very nervous at the same time. I guess that's pretty normal for a first time mum though?

noblegiraffe Wed 10-Apr-13 16:41:39

My first maternity leave was very difficult with a non-sleeping baby and by 10 months when he was at the whiny wanting to crawl but can't yet so cries all the time stage I was nearly out of my mind. Going back to work was great.

My second baby is now 11 weeks and so far has been incredibly easy and I have had the tea while bfing on the sofa and lunches out no problem. DC1 goes to pre school so I can nap in the morning. I think it's going to get more difficult when DC2 becomes more hassle, weaning and crawling I'm not looking forward to.

AutumnMadness Wed 10-Apr-13 16:42:35

Bua-ga-ga. I had a baby who woke up at least every two hours in the night. During the day he only slept in a sling and only when I was walking (not standing or god forbid sitting) outside. After this, I skipped back to work like I was going to Tenerife.

Wishwehadgoneabroad Wed 10-Apr-13 16:45:06

Oh mine was a lovely break! Pottering round the shops, going out for lunch, playgroups, car boot was very nice. I'm a teacher and one little baby seemed easy after a whole class. Of course that's not all day every day but on the whole it was very nice indeed.


I guess it depends what job you do. So far, being on mat leave is definitely like being on a fab extended holiday for me grin

AutumnMadness Wed 10-Apr-13 16:45:20

OP, I really wish you get an easy baby. But sign up for LoveFilm online just in case. Very handy for being stuck on the couch boobfeeding for hours. smile

MajaBiene Wed 10-Apr-13 16:47:37

I had a nice break to be honest. He was never a great sleeper but I breastfed and co-slept so it wasn't too much of an issue, especially as I could nap with him in the day. I didn't expect to do much except carry him around and breastfeed for the first few months so it was basically as I expected.

kalidasa Wed 10-Apr-13 16:50:40

Good advice from MajaBiene. I think if you can find a way to relax and enjoy not doing anything else (e.g. forget about work/housework/hobbies etc) then that would help. I just found that impossible to be honest. But as I said above, the preceding nine months of being cut off from all normal activities didn't help. I am sad I haven't enjoyed these first months with my baby but hope there are better times ahead!

showtunesgirl Wed 10-Apr-13 16:51:47

Absolutely hated the first three months due to a not nice birth and slow recovery from EMCS.

Then I didn't really bond with DD until she was about 7 months old but months 7-12 before I went back to work were lovely and we did such nice things like going to loads of the Paralympic Events.

She also started regularly sleeping through at about 10 months but before then, when she did wake, a quick BF and off she went again to the land of Nod which made things much more bearable.

teacher123 Wed 10-Apr-13 17:03:13

I've had the full year and start my new (part time) job next week. Maternity leave has had it's ups and downs tbh. There have been days where I've been bored silly, as I haven't really got on board with the whole baby group thing, and didn't join NCT. I've made some acquaintances, but no friends through having DS. However I have continued to do some freelance work whilst on maternity leave, I played in a concert 4 weeks after having him, so in some ways I've had the best of both worlds really! I can't decide whether I'm really looking forward to going to work, or dreading it.

The hardest thing is thinking of things to do! I spend a lot of time going for walks with the pushchair...

Snowflakepie Wed 10-Apr-13 18:10:53

Depends on your job, your baby and your situation at home really! Hated my job which was exhausting, demanding and soul-destroying, and that was before I was pg. Left at 25 weeks and had the most lovely extended holiday of my life, but then my interests are simple and I was happy to relax at home, watching TV and crafting for days on end. Bliss. Then I got the baby with silent reflux and unable to sleep for longer than an hour, and when awake didn't stop screaming. For 9 months. No family nearby, DH trying to keep his job on very little sleep, and constant judgy comments any time I did venture out. I hated it. Returning to work part time was an absolute godsend, into a job with much less pressure though. And the baby grew up into a toddler who is actually quite good fun (and is now at preschool 15 hours a week, praise the lord). I really really hated everything about the newborn and baby phase, but the only targets and pressure were driven by me rather than some faceless corporation. Not sure which is actually easier to deal with though!

Someone tell me why I'm doing this all again in 10 weeks time?

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