In your 20’s
If you’re in your 20’s and don’t have babies on the brain yet, it’s still a good idea to plan for your potential maternity leave. I know, it’s hard to think about changing diapers
In your 30’s
Know your company’s Maternity Leave policy AND your rights
Companies are not required to give employees paid time off during maternity leave. There are, however, laws in place to protect working parents from losing their jobs while away on leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one such law. Enacted in 1993, the FMLA protects parents’ jobs – without pay – for up to 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child. There are stipulations – company size, proximity to your work, etc. – so make sure you do your homework.
In addition to knowing state and federal laws surrounding maternity leave, speak with your immediate supervisors, managers or your HR department about your company’s maternity leave policy. Every company is different so make sure to ask questions!
Your feelings may change
Having a child is a life changing event. Understand that your feelings toward work or parenting may change after the birth of your child/children. Maybe you will feel ready to get back to work 8 weeks after birth, or maybe you will decide not to return at all. Things change, circumstances change, so be aware (and open to the idea) that your original plan may take some twists and turns!
Self-employed? Here are some articles to help you navigate planning for Maternity Leave if you work for yourself: