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when to take maternity leave

(14 Posts)
clothcatclare Sat 15-Feb-14 10:53:12

I'm 32 weeks pregnant. I've had quite a difficult pregnancy - horrendous sickness pretty much throughout, which I've already taken a lot of time off work for. Now in addition to the sickness I have been diagnosed with SPD, it's not as bad as I know some women have had it but it's very uncomfortable and quite restricting. I am absolutely exhausted, finding it really hard to concentrate at work. I had always planned to take maternity leave from 36 weeks, I'm thinking now about going earlier, ie, asap. I've already used up my quota of paid sick leave and have no remaining annual leave. I don't know whether I'm best to take unpaid sick leave (or possibly I qualify for statutory sick pay?) or should I just bite the bullet and start maternity leave in the next couple of weeks? My obvious concern about starting maternity leave early is that it will leave me with less time overall with the baby.
Sorry if this is a bit of a rambling post - just a reflection of where my head's at at the moment! Any advice/opinions greatly appreciated. Thanks smile

OrangeMochaFrappucino Sat 15-Feb-14 11:08:00

It's difficult - I'm 30 weeks, also had a lot of time off due to sickness and now exhausted in a very stressful job. I am desperate for as much time off with the baby as possible but very much doubting my ability to carry on for a further six weeks. I can take more time off sick but this doesn't seem very fair to my employer or colleagues, not to mention my students who have already experienced disruption due to my absence so far. I feel starting maternity leave in the next couple of weeks would be best for my health and most convenient to my work - but I can't afford to do it. At the mom is I am just going to keep going as long as I possibly can - aiming for 36 weeks unless I really physically can't.

MrsM2013 Sat 15-Feb-14 11:10:26

It's tough isn't it- I want as much time as possible with baby too but don't want to be exhausted/miserable/broken by the time they get here.
Are there any changes that could be made at work to make it more manageable?? Half days? Changes to type of work? Or has that all been exhausted?
Ultimately you need to look after yourself or you'll be no use to your little one.

GingerMaman Sat 15-Feb-14 11:16:55

How long maternity leave can you take? 6 months or 12 months?

I was in a similar situation to you and started maternity leave at 32 weeks. It was the best decision I made, and those 8 weeks or so were bliss before the storm hit. I am 9 months into maternity leave and baby still wakes up every hour at night, so I would say go on leave and get rest as soon as you can. All the best smile

BettyOff Sat 15-Feb-14 11:18:37

I think once you're over 28 weeks pregnant and have sickness related to pregnancy you are no longer entitled to sick leave and your employer can force you to start your maternity leave early. To be honest I wouldn't be too worried about starting it now anyway, it is nice to have some time before the baby comes as you'll never have the chance again and you won't notice it as much as you think on the other side, it's tough going back to work and leaving your baby anytime but a couple of weeks either way won't make a world of difference. Just enjoy the rest of your pregnancy as much as you can and be kind to yourself!

kjh5 Sat 15-Feb-14 11:26:33

clothcat I had exactly the same dilemma! I'm 31 weeks and been struggling with SPD for most of the second trimester but it has been getting steadily worse over the past 6 weeks. I got myself in a right state stressing about bringing my mat leave forward but after one particularly horrendous day at work I bit the bullet and have bought it forward to start in two weeks. I can't tell you how relieved I am I did it, there is no way in hell I could cope until 36 weeks.

I expect it differs from company to company but it is worth checking with your HR department whether or not you accrue holiday during your maternity leave. We do at my company (I thought this was the norm actually) so what I have done is tack 15 days of holiday onto the end of my mat leave so I don't have to go back early.

If that fails, get your GP to sign you off sick. Sick leave during pregnancy is recorded differently to normal sick leave and cannot be used against you with regards to any disciplinary or redundancy procedures etc. In addition if you are eligible for SSP, you should get it if you have used up your quota of paid sick leave.

If you can last through another week and take mat leave at 33 weeks then you are only going back to work three weeks early. When I was stressing about this DH pointed out to me that in the greater scheme of things this isn't a huge amount of time. I have to go back to work at some point so the bubba is going to have to go into some sort of childcare.

Finally - I was really worried about the reaction of my boss and colleagues, but they have all been extremely sympathetic. As my boss pointed out to me: your health is the most important thing at this moment in time. You are nurturing another human being and therefore your happiness and wellbeing takes ultimate priority. Happy mum = happy baby! So I say go for it and spend the rest of your pregnancy relaxing at home and indulging in some (light) nesting and lots of pampering before the baby gets here!

kjh5 Sat 15-Feb-14 11:29:10

Oh btw legally your company cannot force you to take Maternity leave before 36weeks. So if you are signed off sick now they just have to lump it.

Here is some helpful advice about your rights:

Beccadugs Sat 15-Feb-14 11:32:37

It's such a tough call. Your employer should be able to make reasonable adjustments, but obviously in some jobs this isn't possible.

Your employer can't force you to start mat leave until you are off sick in week 36.

I worked until 37 weeks (yesterday!) with SPD, but my boss was very good about changing my duties so I wasn't doing the more physical aspects, and all my colleagues were good about getting my stuff from the printer etc!

If you are worried about time with the baby I would definitely look at the sat sick pay, if you can afford this.

Also read up on your rights and have a open conversation with your boss, even if you have to include occupational health!

clothcatclare Sat 15-Feb-14 11:54:40

Thank you so much everyone for all your replies. It is nice to know I'm not alone in this. You've all given me really good/reassuring advice. I know not to feel guilty if I end up going on mat leave earlier than I initially thought. Thank you again x

xxx28xxx Sat 15-Feb-14 12:27:14

I feel for u op and everyone else who is suffering! I am in a similar position, 28 wks and due to finish up at 37.5 and I just don't think I'm going to make it. I'm having constant dizzy and fainting spells mixed in with exhaustion. It's so frustrating feeling like your body is just giving up. I know my body's working hard to feed my baby but I jsut didn't realise how hard pregnancy can be, plus it doesn't help that people always rave about how easy pregnancy is etc.

I think if u need to finish up earlier than planned then u maybe should, even if just be a couple of weeks. U don't want to be utterly exhausted when baby comes, I think I may take my own advise lol

iloveweetos Sat 15-Feb-14 12:36:41

For dd1 I went on leave at 36 weeks. Planned to do the same but things don't always go to plan lol
Managed to last until 31 weeks and I haven't even got spd! Just tiredness,heartburn (constant) and the sickness is back. Just had my first week off and best decision I've made.
Talk to your employer. But don't get guilt tripped into staying. Work should come secondary to the health of you and your baby x

BettyOff Sat 15-Feb-14 17:57:18

Oops, sorry. No idea why I had 38 weeks so fixed in my head! blush

BettyOff Sat 15-Feb-14 17:57:30

Or even 28!

Want2bSupermum Sat 15-Feb-14 18:10:49

I had SPD with my first pregnancy. I know how horrible it is - I hope you are getting physio for it. I found seeing a chiro twice a week kept me mobile and I was able to work until 35 weeks. You really need to look after your health. If you can't work don't think you a hero for pushing yourself. I was lucky to be in the US and under the care of an obn whose research interest is in SPD. She had me monitored for a year after DD's birth to make sure I didn't still have it.

I don't think they can force you to start your leave before 36 weeks. I am also unsure of the rules on unpaid sick leave when pregnant but I am sure its on the site posted upthread.

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