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When to start maternity leave?

(24 Posts)
bubblesincambridge Tue 28-Jul-09 10:04:37

How many weeks before EDD do people generally start their maternity leave?

StealthPolarBear Tue 28-Jul-09 10:09:08

I think the average is 4-6 but it depends on a lot of things - how your pregnancy is going, what sort of job you do etc.
I'm having a normal pregnancy so far and have a desk job with an easy commute so I plan to stay until just before 38 weeks.

arolf Tue 28-Jul-09 10:17:47

I've made the mistake of saying I'll start my leave 3 days before my EDD - am now just under 8 weeks before my EDD and regretting that decision, as I'm exhausted! I'm now planning to start working from home more often, and maybe take a day of holiday every week. Just a warning

SheWillBeLoved Tue 28-Jul-09 10:19:38

I left at 35 weeks. Not a job which you can just sit down in, and we were in the middle of doing up our new house and moving. In the end it got too much, and although my pregnancy was/is normal, one of the two had to give.

HensMum Tue 28-Jul-09 10:22:55

Try and save your annual leave up so you can take a day a week in the weeks running up to maternity leave.
I stopped at 37 weeks, but also had a non-eventful pregnancy and office job. The worst bit was getting to and from work as it's a half hour walk or ride on a busy bus.
3 weeks would have been about right...but DS was 2 weeks late...Make sure you have lots to keep you busy if you stop work early as all that waiting around can be horrible.

stillstanding Tue 28-Jul-09 10:25:28

I agree with StealthPolarBear - it really does depend on your circumstances.

I started mat leave two weeks before EDD which was perfect for me - and is what I recommend to friends in similar situations.

I didn't want to start too early as I wanted to maximise my time after the baby was born and I found it was only when I got to about two weeks before that I was starting to struggle with waddling in etc.

That two weeks before EDD was such a wonderful time - I remember it so fondly! Lots of movies and beauty treatments and sitting around in coffee shops/parks reading books etc. Also used the time to get all the baby's things ready which was lovely. Really relaxed and spoilt myself.

Remember though that you will be pretty big and probably quite tired. I had all these grand plans of trekking into London to see exhibitions and museums but they were all shelved as there was no way I was up to that kind of exertion.

Also in the end DS was two weeks late (relatively common for first babies) and so ultimately my mat leave started 4 weeks before birth date. The second two weeks I remember less fondly as I was pretty knackered and fed up by then!

I would have personally found taking 4-6 weeks before EDD a bit boring and think 2 weeks was perfect.

Having said that next time round I think I may stop a bit earlier so that I can enjoy being with DS on his own for a bit before no. 2 comes around but I will see how I go.

walkingwomb Tue 28-Jul-09 10:32:52

Last pregnancy i planned to work up to 3 weeks beforehand but was so knackered that I changed it to 4 week. I found that I needed at least a week to unwind when I had finished. However, I wasn't overdue so it didn't end up being six weeks.

This time i am planning on 4 weeks again and keeping DD in nursery grin

GinaFordAteMyBaby Tue 28-Jul-09 10:34:58

It's really difficult to anticipate how you're going to feel, and while I could quite cheerfully have finished a month before edd, I agree about maximising the time off you have when you actually have the baby. I used 2 weeks leave so finished 2 weeks before edd and started leave on my due date. I had an inkling I was going to go over though, and had baby come early then my maternity leave would have had to start on that date.

I had grand plans for stripping wallpaper, painting the kitchen etc but all I've done is slob around the house.

StealthPolarBear Tue 28-Jul-09 10:38:21

yes, I used holiday to effectively work PT in the last month or so last time and it really helped. This time I can't as much as I'm finishing end of August - holiday season! but am having the odd day off here and there which always gives me something to look forward to.
Last time I finished 3 weeks before, but DS was 4 days late so I had a month off. It was lovely and I don't remember being bored but I'd prefer the time at the end.

lal123 Tue 28-Jul-09 10:39:17

If you change your mind about when you want your maty leave to start you can usually cahnge the date with your employer? Alternatively - if you are feeling too tired etc you could always go off on sick leave which would then automatically trigger your maty leave to start?

My maty leave starts 1 week before edd, but am taking a couple of weeks annual leave before that.

BikeRunSki Tue 28-Jul-09 10:39:23

DS was early, so I stared the next day!

Actually, was due to start ML on the Monday, at 37+5. DS came on the Sunday morning. I had had a few days annual leave before hand though.

Leaving work late - you get more time at home with your baby when they are older (and maybe more interesting?) BUT all bar one of my "Mummy" friends has already gone back to work now (the babies are 10-11 months old). And I also missed out on a few lunches and coffees when with my NCT buddies when they all finished earlier than me.

lazylion Tue 28-Jul-09 11:02:13

I'm finishing 2 days before the birth (elective c-section), I work mostly from home so it shouldn't be a problem. But I'm 33 weeks now and totally exhausted, I wish I had told them I was finishing earlier. It's too difficult to change now but my work is getting increasingly late and rubbish.

mumbot Tue 28-Jul-09 11:51:33

I finished at 38 and was exhausted - even though ds didn't arrive until 42 weeks.

I agree that taking annual leave before is a good idea - or if you can work from home that helps too.


bubblesincambridge Tue 28-Jul-09 17:41:19

I was planning on taking annual leave before, so that I would finish 3 weeks before EDD. I've been told though that I might be too tired. I have a desk job but I commute from Cambridge to London 4 days a week (work from home 1 day), always get a seat, but it takes me 2 hours each way and I have to get up early.

lynniep Tue 28-Jul-09 17:53:50

I stopped at 38 weeks last time and I was completely fine. I was commuting into London (1.5hrs door to door with about 15 minutes waddle from KX to work) and it wasnt an issue at all. (I do desk job too)

However, last time I was pregnant I was a) relatively fit (or at least I had been until about 20 weeks) and b) didnt have a toddler to look after.

This time around I work from home and I still think 38 weeks might be optimistic.

It does help to have sympathetic employees who will let you leave earlier if you can't manage it (and a doctors note should sort you out if they are reluctant)

3 weeks before EDD sounds like a good plan

dal21 Tue 28-Jul-09 18:26:09

I stopped work at 34 weeks and just as well, DS arrived 3 weeks later. I was shattered by 34 weeks and was so glad I took the time off to rest up!

MamaVoo Tue 28-Jul-09 19:16:48

I had a normal pregnancy, easy commute and desk job so decided to stop at 38 weeks. DS was early and I only ended up with a week off before the birth. It wasn't enough. On the other hand several friends had babies the same year and every single one was late. If I was going to do it again though I'd leave earlier and ensure a good rest. Nothing can prepare you for the lack of sleep once the baby comes so take it easy while you can.

BlueChampagne Wed 29-Jul-09 13:00:48

As others have said, it depends on your circumstances:
how do you feel so far?
is it your first?
what sort of job (and commute) do you have?
Are you the sort of person who would rest if you had time off?
How flexible is your employer likely to be if you change your mind nearer the time? Is there a company policy?

I felt great throughout my pregnancy with DS1 and stopped on the Friday when my due date was the following Monday! OK he didn't show till the Wednesday but I'd have got really bored and frustrated if I'd had more time off.

Now 20 weeks with DC2 and hoping to do something similar, but work will be flexible if I change my mind nearer the time.

Good Luck!

Jojay Wed 29-Jul-09 13:07:09

With DS1 I worked till 37 weeks and it was fine. I was mostly desk bound though, and started at 8.30 am

With DS2 I was only working 3 days a week but I was getting up at 5.15 am to do a more physical job, and had a toddler to look after too. By about 30 weeks I was exhuasted and had to negitiate a later start time - I used holiday to do this. I worked till 36 wks then stopped, and I was SO ready to stop then. Ds2 arrived a bit early too, so the time certainly didn't drag.

As others have said, it depends on your job, hours, etc.

Remember to take your full annual holiday allownace before your maternity pay kicks in though, as you continue to accrue holiday on maternity leave and you may lose it if you don't take it.

Best of luck

BlueChampagne Wed 29-Jul-09 15:21:42

Also you'll be paid full whack for being on holiday grin

bubblesincambridge Fri 31-Jul-09 14:49:28

What about bank holidays? Can you reclaim days in lieu for those?

BlueChampagne Fri 31-Jul-09 15:02:32

Good question - I don't know. Let me know smile

LG1000 Fri 31-Jul-09 18:16:33

In order to protect Employees, Employers are no longer allowed to make payment in lieu of statutory annual leave entitlement or carry annual leave entitlement over to another year. So, if you don't use it within the year you lose it!

Bank holidays do not have to be given in addition to the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks, but most companies will give you these as a bonus.

So I would not expect to receive bank holidays in lieu unless it was stipulated in your contract of employment.

lucky1979 Sun 02-Aug-09 00:42:21

I'm starting maternity leave 6 weeks before my predicted c-section date, 4 weeks of maternity leave and 2 weeks of annual leave. I've also got another 2 weeks of annual leave week after next, so I have one week, then two weeks holiday, three weeks back at work then I'm done.

To be honest, I've already switched off from work and wish I didn't hae to go back at all! But if you actually like your job you might feel differently. ;)

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