Thoughts on maternity leave? — The Bump
Babies: 9 - 12 Months

Thoughts on maternity leave?

BumpJackieBumpJackie member
1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary Name Dropper
edited January 2016 in Babies: 9 - 12 Months
Only 12% of people in the U.S. work somewhere that offers paid maternity leave, which means that many men and women have to take a pay cut right when their costs of living are about to increase exponentially. We're looking to hear stories from you on your personal experiences with maternity leave. Did you have a positive (or negative) experience? How did you approach your maternity leave with your employer? How did it impact you financially? If you're willing to share your story, please reach out to [email protected] ASAP. Thanks!

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Re: Thoughts on maternity leave?

  • I had to purchase a temporary disability plan to cover my maternity leave. My employer only had 42 employees and so was not required to pay me. Also, they would not guarantee my position upon returning. I had such a bad experience that I decided not to return to them. I ultimately became a SAHM. 
  • When I had my son, Noah, I was not able to take off much time from work because of the financial burden. Unfortunately, my job had no paid maternity leave and I only had 15 sick days saved up. This meant that I got about 3 weeks off paid when I had him and then I took several unpaid weeks. Although my husband and I had worked hard to save up a little extra money so that I could stay home a few weeks longer with Noah, it was a financial hardship. My husband didn’t get any time off and ended up using all of his vacation days so he could be at the hospital with us and have a couple days at home with his new son (which is more than many men get). Both of us had a hard time returning to work (him, just a few days later, and me, after a couple of months). I know that is something that every mother goes through eventually if they work, but it definitely came sooner than I was ready for. I was also extremely anxious about the prospect of pumping so that I could continue to nurse my son. I quickly realized at work that while I knew legally they had to allow me to pump, actually finding the time to do that was more difficult. The only way I could find time was if I took several “unpaid breaks” throughout the day to pump, and then I had to stay longer at work (and away from my baby) to make up for the time I’d missed on my breaks. Finding time to even take these breaks was similarly difficult. Although I have gotten used to it, I still miss my son every day and wish that the United States had benefits similar to Germany or Canada so I could have spent more time at home when he was born without worrying about finances so much. :(
  • I had a good and bad experience with maternity leave. My employer offered 6 weeks paid for natural delivery and 8 for c-section. I had a natural delivery, though with some complications that had me back in the hospital at the end of my paid leave. Communicating first with the maternity leave policy and with my HR representative, I found out that I could request additional time off to recover from my second surgery (first was delivery & 3rd degree episiotomy and second was repair of "deteriorated" episiotiomy - that's a story for another time). After lots of paperwork and back and forth with my doctors (obstetrician and pelvic floor specialist) the leave company agreed to pay for an additional 6 weeks for recovery from second surgery. I couldn't have accomplished that ping ponging back and forth with the insurance company without the help of both doctors and their office staff - thank you so much! Additional inquiry with my HR rep and I found out I could request additional 6 weeks of what the leave company called "mother-baby bonding time", though this was without pay and position would not be guaranteed after total of 12 weeks of leave (paid and unpaid). Had a difficult but ultimately good conversation with my manager who agreed to give me my position if I returned on the day we agreed on. I was out for leave for a total of 16 weeks and did not get paid for 4 weeks. It was tough financially, as we had unexpected medical bills that we hadn't saved up for - but we were able to work out a payment plan with the hospital for the bulk of the bills helping spread the costs out. There were a lot of bills that kept coming in, most for me and a few for the little one. Returning to work was hard, but after all the physical hardships I endured over 4 months, I was ready to get back into a routine. I missed my little one tremendously and it only makes my work day more worth it, because at the end of the day I know I get to go hang out with my giggle monster!

    I'm so glad it's all behind us and over. I learned a lot about the convoluted triangle that is working with your doctor, insurance company, and employer's HR department and how I could perhaps better manage it for baby #2. It's still unbelievable that a new mom can't just relax and recover while taking care of her newborn. 

    Mommies the only advice I have that I was given was..."You gave birth to a human being, you're a superwoman, you can do anything." 
  • My maternity leave was short, due to finances and my work demands, but we also made the decision for my husband to be the stay at home parent, which made going back to work easier.  I am a teacher, which many think is a good job for parenthood - it's not.  After years of trying, we conceived, but I was due right at the start of the school year.  I took only 6 weeks (what I had saved in sub days and personal savings to cover unpaid time) and then returned back full-time.  I quickly realized that the daily schedule wasn't going to allow me to pump and even though it was my legal right.  For a while, I would leave at my prep period and breastfeed at home (I live very close), but after a while I just couldn't keep up with my workload if I left at prep.  I ended up only being able to feed and pump at home and ran out of supply and stopped breastfeeding by the time my son was only 3 months.  I am very fortunate to have my husband home with him during the day, but just wish dad's could also breastfeed ;-)
  • My job at the time allowed 6 weeks unpaid maternity leave. I was lucky to have enough sick and personal hours saved up to cover that time off. I ended up taking 7 weeks off because I had my son a week earlier then my requested time off. I went back to work full time and am a single mother so it was really rough. I tried pumping when I could and would go home to pump on my lunch. But after a few weeks the stress I was feeling and not getting much sleep, I just wasn't producing enough milk for a single bottle in a day. I was so upset to not be able to provide breastmilk for my son. I stopped pumping when he was between 2-3 months. It makes me so sad to know maternity leave here is short, unpaid and sometimes not offered. It's such an important time for baby and parents. The only time I saw my son was to put him to sleep at night because of my schedule. I'm very lucky now because my mom offered to let me move back in with her and be a sahm and to work on a degree. We need better options here in the US. 
  • It's so sad to read that mums and dads in the US don't get paid maternity/paternity leave. Here in Norway we get either 56 or 48 weeks paid, 80% of salary or 100% salary. Dads get 12 weeks paid. 2 weeks after the baby is born and 10 weeks during the first 3 years. We choose how we divide the leave. Mum have to start the leave minimum 3 weeks before birth, and the first 6 weeks after is hers. The rest can be divided as we want, but the dads have to take their 10 weeks, or they will loose them. This is the law, so no employer can deny you this. 
  • edited May 2016
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