When to start maternity leave (US)

posted 1 week ago in Pregnancy
  • poll: When did you aim to start your maternity leave?

    2 weeks or more before due date

    1 week before due date

    On due date


  • Post # 2
    7166 posts
    Busy Beekeeper
    • Wedding: February 1997

    My initial answer would be to begin leave on the day you deliver or go into labor in order to make the most of the time with baby. But if your work requires a start date in advance, that complicates matters. 

    Regarding the busiest week of the year, if you fear you will not be able to keep up or may not be available (although how can you possibly know at this point?), I’d give the company a heads-up now so they are not left in need. If they know you will be gone, they can plan for that busy week without you, whereas if you spring it on them, they might not be happy.

    Depending on the relationship you have with your boss or supervisor, I’d have some discussions with them about it to make sure you’re both on the same page. Tell them that you will know more as things progress, and will do everything you can during that week if you have not delivered yet, but that you may not be able to keep up with everything as you normally do. Then you can see where things go as you get further toward your due date. Some women feel great right up until they have contractions, while others are exhausted and unable to sleep in the last weeks. 

    Post # 3
    957 posts
    Busy bee

    View original reply
    @echomomm:  I agree with you, requiring OP to give a start date for her leave when she has no idea when she’ll go into labor seems a bit execessive.  OP, is there any way you can negotiate this with them?

    Post # 4
    2828 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: July 2018

    Usually I think waiting until you have the baby is ideal, because those weeks go FAST afterwards.  I was in my office working all day on a Sunday while in labor to try to get my work done before Mat Leave, lol.

    But I definitely wouldn’t be wanting to work stressful 13-14 hour days the week before having a baby.  You should be sleeping, relaxing, and doing last-minute things like making freezer meals and organizing baby stuff.  So I voted the week before your due date so you can bail on that super busy week.  Sorry co-workers.

    Post # 5
    66 posts
    Worker bee

    Are you taking paid maternity leave?  I was not able to take paid leave until I delivered… something to consider as well.  I would agree with the previous responses and start your leave after you’ve delivered.

    Post # 6
    6885 posts
    Busy Beekeeper
    • Wedding: June 2015

    View original reply
    @sweet844:  per the paperwork I had to use my due date. I wanted to go as long as I could anyway so I’d have more baby time afterwards instead of bored time beforehand. I also tried for a summer baby, which worked (barely) the first time around, so leave before was unnecessary. Second baby was autumn and the day I told my boss I wasn’t going to work with students any longer turned out to be the day I went into labor. I guess that’s why I didn’t want to function anymore. 
    a few days to chill is probably smart if you can get it

    Post # 7
    9766 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    I’m guessing the date they are asking for isn’t set it stone. I mean what would you do if you gave birth early…obviously it can be changed.

    Are you covered by FMLA? Short term disability? Paid maternity leave through your employer?

    I personally worked until my induction date because I wanted those 12 weeks with my baby. I would have been really pissed at myself if I had taken 2 weeks beforehand because I was a mess going back that soon as it was.

    Post # 8
    8967 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    With my first I planned to work to my due date but she came early. I’m planning the same for this kid – I’m COOKED and there is no way I can work past my due date if he’s late. 

    Post # 9
    762 posts
    Busy bee

    In CA, you are eligible to start mat leave 4 weeks before your due date. This isn’t leave you can use after the baby is born. You get an additional 12 weeks after the baby is born. 

    Post # 10
    215 posts
    Helper bee

    Does taking the week before your due date affect how many days you get after the baby comes? For me, I was going to get the same amount of leave after baby’s arrival regardless, so I planned to start my leave 4 days before my due date. However, baby ended up being transverse so then I had to schedule a c section and the doctors really wanted to do it earlier (apparently they don’t want you to wait until your due date because they don’t want you to go into labor before you have the c section). So I ended up only getting one weekend – my last day of work was a Friday, and had the c section the following Monday. In our case, it was a little different because we knew exactly when baby was coming, so we were able to prepare and pack everything in advance. I do wish I’d had a few more days though – I cleaned the house and prepared some food but would have liked a little more time to just relax.

    Post # 11
    9426 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    I don’t think there’s a cut and dry answer for anyone. Really depends on how hard the end of your pregnancy is on you, if you have any “use it or lose it” time, whether you think you’ll go early or late, and just what your personal preferences are in general.

    I was in CA (where we had 4 weeks of “use it or lose it” time as a PP mentioned). I also have a history of preemies in my family, so I was pretty convinced LO would come early. I decided to take off 3 weeks in advance (thinking that in case I went past my due date, I’d still have that extra week to use up). Well sure enough LO ended up coming 10 days early so I wish I had taken off earlier lol.

    If I had to choose to take days off before that I could tack onto my maternity leave instead, I would’ve worked up until my water broke. 

    Post # 12
    486 posts
    Helper bee

    View original reply
    @sweet844:  I took off a week before my due date then dd was two days late on top of that. I wanted the week to pack my hospital bag, rest, and deep clean the house. (I’m not American though and had much longer off- with only 12 weeks off, eff the cleaning)

    The last week of work I found it was truly difficult to care about work, so it might really suck to end on a rough stretch. Because when baby comes you’re awake every 2-3 hours all day long. It’s not good going into that already tired out. We were so close to hallucinating from sleep deprivation. We had family able to come over to watch the baby twice a week for 3 hours in the evening so we could nap. Will you be able to have help after baby’s born? 

    Maternity leave bonus tip: practice eating with a fork in your non-dominant hand. 

    Post # 13
    419 posts
    Helper bee

    I would definitely at least take that last week off before your due date. No one wants to be working 13 hour days at 9 months pregnant.


    Post # 14
    9425 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2013

    only you can make that decision if you don’t want to work that last week.  is the date set in stone?  can you change it? what if baby comes early?  what if baby is late?

    my first was induced at 36 weeks, i went to the hospital for routine check and never left. at first i told my boss i’d be back in the afternoon, then the next day, then see you in 15 weeks.

     my second was induced at 40+6.  i worked until the date of my induction.

    Post # 15
    488 posts
    Helper bee

    do you have any vacation or sick days you could use for time off before the baby is born in case you don’t want to work up until the end?

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