I'm in Germany and I'll have to go off six weeks before the due date because the employer's health insurance won't cover you after that! Seems bonkersly early and I'm sure I'll go mad (especially as it will be July!) but it doesn't come off the other end thankfully so hopefully it will be alright.
I'm 35 weeks and I finish this coming Friday. I had planned to have 3 weeks off before the week baby is meant to come (planned section in the 39th week) but the hospital is fully booked and I'm now booked in for the 19th march 40+2 so unless I go in to natural labour or a date frees up I will have 4 weeks off before baby which will be nice in a way as last one was an emergency at 32 weeks and all plans went to pot but I might regret that at the other end when I have to go bk lol.. I could continue working as feel completley fine but don't want to mess employers about by changing it.
In my first pregnancy I worked up to 38 weeks and then took 2 weeks annual leave before starting mat leave.
In my second I worked up to about 28 weeks when I was signed off sick by the doctor for the remainder of my pregnancy due to spd and sciatica. I went on annual leave at 35 weeks pregnant and mat leave started at 40 weeks.
Both times I was very conscious and worried about loosing time from the other end.
This time I'll be working up until 28 weeks because I'm term time only and it doesn't make sense to go back to work after the summer hols, so I'll tag on some annual leave before staring mat leave.
I have always had spd and sciatica in my pregnancies to the point I've been on crutches and mostly incapacitated so I'm factoring that in. I've realised that I struggled so much in my first pregnancy and pushed myself too much and actually what I needed was the time off beforehand. Having children to look after when pregnant is a game changer; I can't push my luck, I need to look after myself. But I'm lucky in that I didn't loose time off at the end of my last mat leave due to not starting it officially until 40 weeks and this time my employment contract means that it falls at a time that won't effect the end of my leave either.
Figuring this stuff out when you're unwell is basically a risk assessment. It's working out the advantages and disadvantages of any decision you make. While you don't want to loose time from the other end, would you be able to manage otherwise now? Don't forget you accrue annual leave on mat leave and can tag that on at the end.