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How to decide when to start maternity leave?

(19 Posts)
kitkat321 Tue 29-Jul-14 16:15:50

I�m due in the first week of December and have always said I�d prefer to work up to as close as the birth as possible so that I can use more of my mat leave to spend with the baby.

I know however that this isn�t always realistic for a variety of years.

I just don�t know how I�m going to feel at that point. I�m only approaching 22 weeks now and although I feel rubbish most of the time I can still function in work and it�s not yet become a chore to go into the office. I also have the option of working from home which helps.

I�d hate to finish a month early only to have a late baby and be pottering around for 6 weeks - I�m usually quite active and get easily bored) but at the same time have people saying it was nice to get that time to themselves to relax before everything changes.

I�d love to take a year off but that�s not realistic so want to maximize time with baby. I�m very lucky that I get 6 months full pay plus I accrue all my holidays so I should be able to get about 7 � 7 � months at full pay and if we can save properly & I get a decent bonus I can probably manage about 9 months before we�d start to struggle (unfortunately just bought a new house so mortgage has more than doubled otherwise I would have managed longer)

So what�s the norm? Is it completely unrealistic to think I could work to mid/end November?

CakesALot Tue 29-Jul-14 16:22:41

Hi kitkat! I'm also 22 weeks and have similar money issues preventing me from taking the full year off that I would love, but like you, I'm managing to push it out to 9 months, whilst understanding we will be utterly skint by the end!

I've also found it difficult to decide when to finish and initially I planned to work up to 38 weeks. However, I'll be in the middle of an extremely busy and potentially stressful time at work if I do that so had a rethink. I've been saving up a bit of this year's annual leave so I will be able to finish at 36 weeks instead.

I also think it's hard to plan because like you say, you don't know what might happen in the last few months/weeks. If you feel confident, I'm sure you could work to the end of November, but be honest with yourself at the time if it becomes too much and finish earlier if you need to.

I'm a first timer so I'm sure others can offer advice based on experience, but I just wanted to say I've struggled making these decision too!

Heatherbell1978 Tue 29-Jul-14 16:31:35

Hi, I'm 37 wks and finished up on mat leave at 35 wks. Well my mat leave officially starts 4th Aug so it's 3 wks holidays and 2 wks mat leave before my due date.

It's difficult as everyone is so different! I always wanted to leave work early-ish because I work in a reasonably stressful job which is very male dominated (albeit office based) so there's not a lot of sympathy for a pregnant woman!

I have had a very easy pregnancy despite a few weeks of nausea in first trimester. I could have easily worked to 36 wks but would be struggling now. Although I still have few symptoms, I just have so little energy. Even today I had a to do list and had to abandon it to come home to sleep! I guess if I had to I could have struggled through this week, perhaps working at home a bit but definitely would have needed to finish this week at 38 weeks.

Oh and I think the norm is about 36 wks from the people I've spoken to.

Churchillian Tue 29-Jul-14 16:42:03

It really depends on how physical your job is, whether you have a long commute, how long your hours are and if you have a non-complicated pregnancy with no additional problems. I worked until 39 weeks last time, using some annual leave to go down to 3 days a week for the last month. As I can work at home in a mostly non-stressful role that was fine and I'm planning to do the same this time. I preferred gradually cutting down rather than stopping but everyone is different. I was tired but enjoyed the distraction of work.

kitkat321 Tue 29-Jul-14 16:46:58

Thanks all for your advice!

We are due to move into our new house about 5 weeks before my due date so I'm wondering whether or not just to take the 4 weeks off - probably 3 weeks holiday and 1 week mat leave which means I can potter about at home and nap when I need to - also means I can get sorted for Christmas before the chaos begins!

I think I've got just over 3 weeks to fully confirm these things and wonder if it would be better booking mat leave to start earlier using holidays and if I still feel like I can function at work then cancelling some holidays to work on a bit longer - that might be the best option!

Treesandbees Tue 29-Jul-14 16:58:23

I have DS whose nearly 1 and I'm going back to work soon. I had the same dilemma as you and ended up going off at 34 weeks (1 week a/l and the rest mat leave). In the end I was induced at 39 weeks due to blood pressure so had 4.5 weeks off. With hindsight I could have worked for another week BUT I loved the time off ! I'm normally v busy person who gets bored easily but I relished in the quite, time to do chores, afternoon naps, seeing friends etc. You will never get this time to yourself again so enjoy it! I think a week or 2 in the grand scale of things won't make much difference. Also now I'm the other end it's actually knackering looking after a toddler so I'm looking forward to going back to work for a 'rest' (well to have a cuppa and go to the loo by myself)! If I had the time over I would go off 3/4 weeks before due date. Good luck!

Eminybob Tue 29-Jul-14 17:01:55

I started my mat leave from my due date but took 4 weeks holiday before hand. Lucky I did as baby was born at 37 weeks so I didn't get much of a break before he came!

mssleepyhead Tue 29-Jul-14 17:44:40

I've just stopped at 35 weeks because I'm a teacher and the school holidays started. I thought I'd be bored and hate it, but no... Not really! Suddenly the fact that I was working a week ago seems inconceivable. I'm so tired! And very much look forward to my afternoon nap... Just wanted to reassure you that stopping earlier isn't necessarily a bad thing : )

MrsSpencerReid Tue 29-Jul-14 17:50:42

First time I planned to work to 36w, got signed off sick at 32w and baby born at 35w, second time I decided to be organised and planned to start leave at 32w, but got signed off about 26w! If there is a next time I'm going to plan to finish at 35w so I don't lose time off with my baby, this time it might make the difference between working Christmas or not! (Babies for read the plan anyway!!!)

eastmidswarwicknightnanny Tue 29-Jul-14 19:44:58

I am pregnant with second mat leave will start at 38+4 as will have elective section at 39wks.

However I finish 4weeks before official mat leave at 34+4 using annual leave.

I am due end Nov and finish Oct half term as works well with first starting scan this year.

Also from Sept I am either on leave or working shorter days more due to childcare but also better later on in pregnancy.

Miriama Tue 29-Jul-14 21:01:34

Don't underestimate the tiredness in the final few weeks Im 34 weeks today and the thought of another two weeks commuting into London is making me cry!

Jaffakake Tue 29-Jul-14 21:16:20

My fil is a GP. Usually he keeps his own counsel but he stepped in and recommended I stop work a month before. He was right. I was 2 weeks over in the end & had a demanding birth. If I'd not taken the time to rest I would've been in a worst position. I'll do the same this time.

I took about 10 months off (9 months + accrued holiday). That was ok. I might even shorten it this time, but I'm all about the toddler stage & not the baby stage!

Frizz1986 Tue 29-Jul-14 21:37:48

I finished at 36+5 (due to anual leave my mat leave started at 38 weeks) and in hindsight should have gone a week earlier. I only worked in an office but i was tired and after having my dd i wish i had time to rest before she showed up. I went into slow labour dead on 37 weeks so only had 1 day of rest before it all kicked off.

kitkat321 Tue 29-Jul-14 21:43:05

Thanks ladies - you've helped me make up my mind - I'll be finishing up first week in November!

Acorncat Tue 29-Jul-14 22:06:26

I'm due to finish at 37w (34w just now), but have said to my work that I'll work longer if I can. I still feel fine, a bit tired from rubbish sleep but other than that just same as normal. I work in an office though, and plan to just do non-stressful stuff for last couple of weeks. My maternity is due to start on my due date so hoping I can be flexible about my holidays and keep some till next year if I don't need them. I just don't want to spend up to 5 weeks sitting at home waiting for baby to arrive.

Although my mum had her first at 34w so my plan may go completely to pot!

Gennz Tue 29-Jul-14 22:57:34

Hi kitkat I think we must be due about the same time (I'm due 1 December). I'm currently scheduled to finish up on 7 November, so 3 weeks before.

I am taking approx 10 months - most unpaid (first 14 weeks is stat pay which is about 10% of my usual salary). I'm currently negotiating to work a day from home a week in March.

Hopefully 7 November will be manageable - I do have a v sedentary office job, a 10 minute drive to work and a carpark in the building! If it wasn't for these 3 things I'd be knocking off earlier! I'll see how I go, I might knock off a week earlier, or at least work a bit from home.

November here will be early summer (equivalent of May in the UK) so am looking forward to naps, taking the dog for waddles walks in the sun and hopefully going for a few swims if the weather is warm.

utopian99 Wed 30-Jul-14 10:16:16

First time I planned to work to full term (office based) but employers started 'proceedings' after I told them I was pregnant so this didn't happen. I did however swap to full time property renovation instead - very physical days from 9-5pm) and did this up to a week post due date instead.
Now self employed and will be working to full term again.

dreamingofwineandcheese Wed 30-Jul-14 14:53:53

First time around I finished at 39 weeks. DH was away (he's forces) and I wanted to keep myself occupied, DS was 10 days late so worked out ok.

This time around I'm finishing at 35 weeks (next week, can't wait!). I'm finding it much more of a struggle but I think I'm more tired as have a 2 year old to run around after and I'm carrying a big baby so generally feeling slower and more uncomfortable!

I'm office based though I do think it depends what you do, if I had a job I had to be on my feet for I think I would have had to finish by now.

lizhow14 Wed 30-Jul-14 16:50:07

I am a nurse and finish on Monday. I will be 30 weeks, taking 6 weeks annual leave so start maternity at 36 weeks. It times well for me to have a good chunk off before baby as my DD starts school in September and it means we get lots of mummy days!
Saying that I finished at 32 with my first (annual leave until 37 weeks), again I really valued the time off for preparation (mental and physical) and to relax. My friend was having a planned section and planned for her maternity to start the day before, however she went into labour early and consequently lost 4 weeks of holidays which was annoying!

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