Maternity leave: Work until you pop, or start it early?

Maternity leave: Work until you pop, or start it early?

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For working moms, figuring out when to officially begin maternity leave can be difficult.

Should you take a week or two to relax at home and prepare for baby? Or, should you work until you "pop," so you can spend as much time as possible with your newborn before heading back to the job?

There are so many factors to take into consideration when you're 9 months pregnant and still working. If you're expected to be on your feet for eight hours at a time, physical exhaustion, back pain, swollen feet and more might get the best of you before you reach 40 weeks. If you work a desk job, however, then it might be more realistic to ride out the discomfort.

Other factors might include whether your workplace offers paid leave, if there are pregnancy complications, if you're receiving pressure from your boss, or simply personal preference.

In the our site Community, member mom2bee2015 started a thread to see when her fellow very pregnant mamas were planning to start their maternity leaves. She wrote

"I'm 36w 2d and I'm really starting to feel it. I'm on my feet for at least 8-9 hours a day and it's really taking it's toll. My feet and legs start swelling and hurting, even my belly starts hurting, my back, and now I have pretty bad carpal tunnel that is no longer just at night but all day & night now. I was going to try to work as long as possible but I'm not sure how much longer I can do it. Who's with me? Am I just being a whiner? Lol."

Here are a few community members' responses:

  • tngoatmama: Still teaching. 37 wks today. I try to sit whenever possible. I'm doing fine really. Feet swell, things ache, but I really can't complain too much.
  • Kimhayes82: I will be 36 weeks tomorrow. I'm going to be working until baby eviction day. I value my PTO and I really do not want to use it. I'm just "shucking and jiving" until I can't "shuck and jive" anymore.
  • trailerprincess13: Same boat. I am planning to work until D-day. My job is emotionally draining (CPS worker) and that is starting to take its toll.I think its also causing some anxiety in my normal life as well. Im ready for a break. I wish in could take some time (even just a week) before baby comes. I COULD but I'd have to use all of my vacation time and I'm already going to not get paid for a portion of leave.
  • JOrtal: 38 weeks today. Starting last week I am working from home until giving birth. Much easier like that!
  • BaBbs83: I'm 35w3d and I'm still working. I wanted to try and make it until my due date, but next week I will be cutting back to a 4 day workweek. It's just starting to get too difficult.
  • Sunny401: 39 weeks today and still trucking. Soooo ready to be done but I want as much time with LO as possible before I go back to work.

The game plan I had for maternity leave was a lot like the last commenter's approach. I either worked up to or past my due date for both pregnancies. (With my daughter, I was actually in the early stages of labor and still went to work on my due date.) Why? Basically because I had to, or else I would be taking away from what little time I had off with my newborns.

Here, I was 39 weeks pregnant and still working at the time.

For my firstborn, I had six weeks of partially-paid leave added to a week of unused sick days to make my maternity leave seven weeks long. When those seven weeks flew by, I was a weeping hot mess upon returning to work. It wasn't nearly enough time for me.

For my daughter, I used a combination of partially-paid time, vacation, and unpaid time to eke out 10 weeks of maternity leave. Returning to work was still hard for me, but I was very thankful for those extra few weeks. I couldn't imagine shortening my maternity leave even further by taking time off before baby's arrival. But then again, my job didn't require much physical exertion, either.

What was your game plan for maternity leave?

Featured photo via Thinkstock

Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.

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