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how much time do i physically *need* for maternity leave

(30 Posts)
fishnchips1987 Tue 30-Apr-19 16:22:40

I am the main breadwinner in the family, but because I started my role AFTER I got pregnant, I am not entitled to any beneficial pay packet or SMP. I am however entitled to maternity allowance. This is a MASSIVE reduction in my salary and I am not sure how we are going to afford to live on this.

Having looked at finances it actually makes more financial sense for me to go back to work whilst my partner leaves his job and stays at home to look after the baby. I therefore want to know how much time do i physically need maternity leave wise? Ignoring breastfeeding here, I am talking about purely the physical recovery. I work in an office job, and I have the option to work from home most days.

OP’s posts: |
dementedpixie Tue 30-Apr-19 16:24:46

It depends what you mean by 'need'. By law you need to take 2 weeks off, the amount you take after that is up to you

HappyBee18 Tue 30-Apr-19 16:24:56

I had a c section and didn’t feel “right” for at least 8 weeks. Good luck with everything, hope all goes well

PeachMelba78 Tue 30-Apr-19 16:26:12

6-7 weeks? I had an emergency c-section, then flu (looked after my kids who also had flu at the same time), then an infection in my c-section wound. After 6-7 weeks I was ok - I didn’t have to look after a baby though (Surrogate). You could save your holidays and take 6 weeks off on ML with 2 weeks holiday after?

puppymouse Tue 30-Apr-19 16:27:32

Another c-section here and didn't heal until 13 weeks pp. I also couldn't sit at a computer or walk for any length of time for weeks before I was due so was signed off by the doctor on my midwife's advice. I had 14 months off in total.

londonloves Tue 30-Apr-19 16:27:51

Honestly I would say three months min to feel back to normal. I went back two days a week at four months and it was a massive struggle physically and emotionally.

CountFosco Tue 30-Apr-19 16:28:08

You're not allowed back for 2 weeks if a normal birth but will be longer if you have a section.

How pregnant are you? Save up as much holiday time as you can, and save some money as well for the next few months to buy yourself more time.

If your partner is going to give up work totally to look after your child you should marry him. But he can take unpaid shared parental leave (and may get some paid paternity leave from his employer) which is probanly a better option, allows him to return to work which he should do for his own security, particularly since you are not married.

Settlersofcatan Tue 30-Apr-19 16:30:11

2 weeks would have been fine for me. I don't know anyone in real life who wasn't physically pretty ok by 6 weeks. Contingency plans in case you are unlucky would be wise though.

cubesofjelly Tue 30-Apr-19 16:35:10

It depends on how your birth goes, I would say 8 weeks should cover most eventualities.

Initial recovery for me (two births, vaginal) has been about two weeks, although felt very differently between both. Felt better much quicker the second time around. That is for getting passed most of the swelling, lochia, healing stitches, piles etc.

After 3-4 weeks I felt much more confident being out and about. After DC1 I returned to my studies (post grad, evening, twice a week, 45mins journey both ways on public transport) at 4 weeks postpartum.

My DCs were fairly easy in terms of settling into some sort of routine, by 6 weeks we had a rough routine which made managing the day easier (eg knowing they tended to wake at x times for feeding in night and such, but slept longer earlier, so DH and I used to go to bed very early sometimes to get more sleep ahead of night wakings).

So IME I’d say 4 weeks minimum, but 8 weeks gives you much more time to get back to some semblance of normal and routine as well as recovery and gives you more tolerance in case things are more complicated.

If you’re not 100%, do you have the option of returning part time temporarily? Eg doing 4 days instead of 5 to buy you some extra flex/pace yourself until later on.

Overthinker33 Tue 30-Apr-19 16:36:24

Difficult to say as you just don’t know what kind of birth you will have, tears etc. 8-12 weeks may be a safe bet vs the legal minimum.

Fatted Tue 30-Apr-19 16:36:39

I've only had experience of c-sections. With my first, I wasn't back to anything any where near normal until about 12 weeks PP. I also didn't leave the hospital with him until after a week. With my youngest, I was back to normal by about 6 weeks.

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. You legally don't have to tell your employer when you plan to return until so many weeks before hand, so you do have some flexibility.

How far along are you? Start looking at ways to economise now. Chances are some things may fall by the wayside anyway after having your baby. Save as much as physically possible and save up your annual leave to take after your mat leave finishes.

cubesofjelly Tue 30-Apr-19 16:37:05

(Not including CS in that, as I’m not familiar with CS recovery, I know some people that needed at least 3 months, others who felt well around 6-8 weeks).

Chachaslider Tue 30-Apr-19 16:39:16

I would say 3 months for physical healing and for the 'fog' to lift and hopefully baby going longer stretches and somewhat predictable so you are getting a half decent sleep.

randomsabreuse Tue 30-Apr-19 16:43:23

2- 3 months before I'd want to trust my brain to work well. Absolute minimum 4 weeks - longer if winter born just because DS got hospitalised with bronchiolitis at that point!

Astrid0208 Tue 30-Apr-19 16:45:37

3 months I'd say.

Chartreuser Tue 30-Apr-19 16:46:25

All three of mine had no routine until they were 12 weeks and then it was like a switch had been flicked and they understood the difference between night and day and started sleeping for chunks of time. I am not very good at not having enough sleep and it affects my mental health terribly so I wouldn't have been able to go back to work until then (and even when I did return I was only getting about 5 hours sleep a night). If you are ok on little sleep and don't get PMT and have a relatively straightforward delivery then sooner, for me with 3 straightforward deliveries but being hormonal and sleep deprived not until at least 3 months.

What I will say too is wfh from a baby is not easy either. So you have an office where you can be away from op and baby? Temptation to get involved is strong, especially if you are breastfeeding and let down when you hear them cry. I think I would not assume that wfh will always be easier.

My DH went part time when I returned to work and loved it, rather than your OH give up his job could going part time be an option?

abcriskringle Tue 30-Apr-19 16:48:04

I'd agree with 3 months. That allows time for recovery as that can take a while. It also means you'll (hopefully) be getting more sleep and the annoying hormonal aftermaths like bleeding, massive night sweats (fun!) and mood swings should be long over.

JaniceBattersby Tue 30-Apr-19 16:50:38

For me it’s always been about the dog tiredness. I guess if you’re not going to be breastfeeding then your partner can do the night wakings and you’ll probably be able to go back to work within six weeks ish (although piece of string, obvs) I’ve had four babies and I’ve been physically over the worst of the aches and bruising etc by the time they’re about two months old.

If you’re going to be expressing then don’t underestimate the physical toll of providing enough milk for a small baby. In the early days, you’ll need to express every couple of hours to keep supply up if that’s the path you want to take. Honestly, if you’re returning to work so quickly I’d probably formula feed in your situation.

CrotchetyQuaver Tue 30-Apr-19 16:51:12

Aim for 6 weeks as a minimum. It's important you don't go back too early - before you're fully recovered from the birth, which is different to "feeling fine". With hindsight I went back way too early with my second child at 2 weeks following an EMCS. I didn't have much choice though as it was my own business but I'd have done it differently and sucked up the cost of paying someone to keep it ticking over for longer if I'd realised it was better in the long term to take more time off. If you did end up with an EMCS, it makes sense not to go back until after you're able to drive again.

StylishMummy Tue 30-Apr-19 16:55:05

6-8 weeks minimum

YesQueen Tue 30-Apr-19 16:57:38

My friend is self employed and went back both times after 4 weeks (physical job)

ScreamScreamIceCream Tue 30-Apr-19 16:59:48

I'm the main earner and went back to work after just over 4 months. By then my daughter was sleeping at least 7 hours through the night but often more. She had a brief regression at 12 weeks for just over 2 weeks.

I should add had I had an easy birth and so was out and about after 3 days.

The issue is not only you being well but having a baby who sleeps at night otherwise you will end up at work knackered. Even then I had to breast feed her before work for a month until she started waking up after I had gone.

fishnchips1987 Tue 30-Apr-19 17:00:18

Thank you all so much! These are really helpful replies. I am going to Citizens Advice tomorrow to discuss finance options further because I would ideally like to take as much time off that we can possibly afford and need a contingency plan in case healing takes longer than expected.

Thanks again smile

OP’s posts: |
Backwoodsgirl Tue 30-Apr-19 17:06:15

I was back at work 8 days later, working from home.

megletthesecond Tue 30-Apr-19 17:09:55

After 3 months you should be over the worst and have settled into some sort of routine.

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