Expectant moms know getting ready for a new baby can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. Aside from the constant trips to the bathroom, doctor visits and choosing colors for a nursery, there’s a lot of planning that needs to be done at work as well.
While setting up the crib and figuring out how to install a car seat, you also need to create a work plan that lets everyone on your team know what projects you have and what to expect (or not) from you during your leave, so you can enjoy those few weeks or months off with your new baby.
Some women like to start early, transitioning their workload just in case, while others work right up until their due date. Whatever you choose to do, make sure your transition from work to maternity leave is smooth with some thoughtful planning beforehand.
How to best prep for your leave? Beth Cubbage, a full time working mom who manages a team of consultants at a software company, writes about career, parenting and all things working mom at Parent Lightly. She shares some tips and advice:
HR and benefits: If your company is large enough to have HR and benefits teams, rely on them to help you figure out how to plan your leave. Usually, maternity leave is a combination of short-term disability, paid leave and unpaid leave. FMLA protects your job while you're out (if your company is large enough for FMLA to apply) but it doesn't dictate how you get paid while you're on leave. The way this works is counter intuitive, so you should definitely start this conversation with HR/benefits as early as possible.
Set expectations early with your management: It's important to give your management an outline of what you expect your maternity leave to look like. However, I recommend emphasizing that anything you send prior to leave is just a draft. You can finalize the plans a few weeks after you've given birth. The situation postpartum can change for any number of reasons - a difficult birth, health issues for you or the baby or mental health struggles. It's especially important to be up front about this with managers who are male and/or childless, as uncomfortable as it might be.
Working while on leave: I suggest checking your email once or twice after the baby arrives. You can let everyone know that baby has arrived, touch base with benefits to let them know and make sure to add baby to your health insurance. After you've completed those tasks, turn on your out of office and put away your laptop and phone. Leave your personal contact info with benefits/HR in case they need to contact you. Then focus on your baby.
CareDash, a healthcare startup in Cambridge, Mass. has a Parental Leave Policy but didn't have an employee actually take maternity leave until earlier this year. Charlotte Alimanestianu, People Operations Manager at CareDash says it was a learning experience for all and has this advice for companies.