4 Important Things to Do Before Maternity Leave
Tackling your list of to-dos before maternity leave step by step can help you check those items off without too much added stress. Here's what you should know and how to get started!
It may seem as though there is a lot to do and organize in preparation for your baby, particularly when it comes to getting everything sorted at work for your parental leave. Though the list of things to do before maternity leave can feel overwhelming at times, the easiest thing to do is take it step by step. Tackling one to-do at a time can help you check those items off your list faster and without too much stress. Ensuring these 4 key considerations below are completed ahead of time can give you a little extra peace of mind, so you can take it easy during those last few weeks before your baby arrives!
- Prepare a Work Transition Plan for Colleagues Covering for You
Make a bulleted list of all your responsibilities and any projects in progress, so it can be easily shared with your colleagues before you go on maternity leave. Aim to send this list out at least 3 weeks before your leave is scheduled to begin – your little one may just decide to come early, so it’s best to start gradually transitioning things over while you’re still working (if possible!) and be able to answer any initial questions that may arise as others step into your projects. Consider the following for your work transition plan:
- A list of projects and their current statuses. Be sure to list key contacts or stakeholders for each project, and who the “interim” point of contact should be in your absence.
- Instructions and links to your important files and/or file system. Though you may know exactly where everything is saved, it’s helpful for your colleagues to have a directory to quickly and easily get to files or documents they may need to access while you are on leave.
- A list of other ongoing responsibilities and appropriate points of contact for each.
When your list is completed, review it with your manager and, if necessary, schedule some time to sit with anyone who will be covering for you to walk them through your work transition plan and address any questions ahead of time.
- Talk to Your Manager About Flexible Working Options
Discuss with your manager and Human Resources what your options may be for flexible working during your last week or two before your expected due date (or if you go over your due date!) – many moms may be uncomfortable and tired at the tail-end of pregnancy, so having the option to work remotely or have flexible in-building hours until your little one arrives can save you some discomfort and help put your work transition plan in action. If you’ll be working from home, ensure you have everything you need to do so successfully. You may need to chat with your I.T. department to ensure you have access to servers, files, e-mail, and other items – like a headset – to comfortably and effectively work remotely until your baby makes his or her appearance.
- Get Your Parental Leave Benefit Paperwork in Order
Be sure to review your employee handbook or H.R. policies for up-to-date information about your company’s parental leave policies, so you know exactly what to expect and can plan accordingly. Brush up on the options that the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and disability leave may provide, as well as any additional parental leave guidelines provided by your company, so you can decide what your best options are.
FMLA provides 12 weeks of (unpaid) job-protected leave for employees who have worked for their employer for 12 months (with at least 1,250 hours worked within those 12 months), at a location where the employer has 50 or more employees within 75 miles. If these requirements are met, this means that your employer cannot force you to return to work earlier than 12 weeks. Review any separate parental leave benefits that your company may offer and discuss with your partner to decide what the most viable option may be.
Once your parental leave plan is settled, be sure to complete all paperwork that may be required to process your absence and activate any benefits. Speaking to your H.R. department is a great starting point, even if they outsource benefits and/or leaves of absence to a consultant or disability vendor – someone in H.R. should at least be able to guide in you in the right direction! Know that you may be asked to obtain a doctor’s note or have your healthcare provider review and sign off on some of your parental leave and/or FMLA documents, so allow time to obtain these items before any submission deadlines.
Finally, you may also consider asking your H.R. department what you need to do to ensure your baby is added to your health insurance plan and how to update your tax withholding information to reflect your new dependent – both of which should be done right after he or she arrives. Your H.R. contact is an excellent resource during this time and can help direct you to what you need.
- Start Cooking at Home – and FREEZE it!
Making a few large batches of meals that can be frozen and then easily re-heated is one of the most helpful things to do before maternity leave – especially for your future postpartum self. Whether this is your first baby or you’ve had kids before, one of the last things you’ll be thinking about after coming home from the hospital is making dinner. Take advantage of any free time you may have and cook double or triple batches of your favorite soups, sauces, and other quick meals that freeze well. Split them into meal-sized portions, so later you can have dinner already made – a huge relief for a mom recently released from the hospital with her new baby!
Friends and family may also be willing to pitch in to a “Meal Train” for your family once your little one arrives! Though everyone always asks what they can do to help during those early postpartum days, it’s hard to know what you may need in the moment. With that in mind, having someone else do the food prep and cooking can be a huge relief while you’re preoccupied with feeding, changing, and snuggling your newborn! Resources like MealTrain.com allow loved ones to schedule themselves to provide a meal for you once or even more often.
- BONUS – Other Important Things to Do Before Maternity Leave
- Get your car seat installed – remember, you can ask your local police or fire department to check and ensure it is installed correctly.
- Order your insurance-covered breast pump and make sure it’s delivered in advance of your due date, so you have time to clean and sanitize your pump and parts, put it together, and familiarize yourself with it – that way, you can start pumping as soon as your baby arrives!
- Ask your H.R. department or another new mom colleague at your workplace to show you the mother’s room or private lactation space. Your H.R. contact should also be able to provide you with resources and policies pertaining to breast milk feeding after you return to work.
This is such an exciting time, mama! We hope these tips help you get organized and check off a few boxes on your to-do list, so you have a little time left over to focus on you – and relish the joy and excitement of becoming a parent. Remember, Medela is here to support you along every step of your prenatal and breast milk feeding journey.