Maternity Leave - Torn, Time Before or After!

Hi. I'm sure I'm not the only person having this debate with myself! I'd love to take some time to myself before baby arrives. For numerous reasons, but mainly downtime and not having to deal with the stress that working life brings for a few weeks! But then I feel guilty, because by taking extra time at the beginning it means less time at the end with my baby :( I keep thinking whichever option I pick, I'll regret not picking the other one in the long run... or will I? There's only a week difference between the two options I'm considering - its hardly a life changing decision! It feels like a huge decision though, LOL! I'm thinking of either finishing at 35+3 (Friday) so my first non-working day starts at 35+6, take 2 weeks annual leave, and starting maternity leave 37+6, or finishing at 36+3 (Friday) so my first non-working day is 36+6, take 2 weeks annual leave and starting maternity leave at 38+6. Baby can come from 38 weeks and be considered full-term, right?

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  • Baby is term at 37 weeks. I would say it depends what kind of job you do- time in feet, hours etc? I finished at 35+2 but have a manual job with 13 hour days every day- I went 2 weeks over and ended up with 7 weeks off before the baby arrived (I did take 4 weeks holiday first) which was a long long time!

  • mines a bit different becasue of my circumstances but my plan is below

    EDD 26th may,

    last day in work 25th april, 4 weeks AL to take and maternity to start on due date

    however i know ill be going in and having baby at 38 weeks, so my AL will stop once baby is here and be carried over until next year when ireturn, and the maternity leave will kick in early on birth date

  • I'm limited to time off, because of wanting to spread as much time as possible after baby's arrival.

    I would always, always vote for having the time after. But then, I have a sedentary job, in a decent office and can eat, drink, pop for a rest whenever I feel like it. I also know I feel 'worse' at home (I'm so distracted/busy at work I never notice any symptoms quite as much as I do at home). So it's an easy option for me. I don't care if I don't get one single day to myself before he/she comes, if I stay well, I want the time after so much more.

  • Oh really - so you can start 'get baby out' methods from 37 weeks? Its a desk job... mainly... but I manage so it can be stressful (and I am already dreading pre-maternity leave when everyone is in panic mode about me going!). I commute as well (by car), an hour each way. 7 weeks is a long time! Do you regret it or not though? People say you get bored etc. I love nothing more than doing nothing... so I'm not sure how applicable that is to me! Ha!

    Counter - See, I can't wait for time off to myself. I feel guilty saying that but its true! I'm longing for time off to do nothing! Obviously I can't wait for time with my baby either, but that goes without saying I think!

  • No need to feel guilty Pep! If you have the time, why not?! I have so little time I can take I'm bound to vote for after :)

  • With a desk job id be looking at 36/37 weeks assuming my commute was ok. If younfinish at 35 weeks and babyis 2 weeks late youll be wasting nearly 2 months of time off I my mind. Trouble is there is no way of telling how your pregnancy will go and how you will feel. Im 31 weeks this week and im already struggling due to spd, although as avteacher im on my feet a lot. Best advice can give is to book to leave of later end of whIn youre thinking and then move it forwards if need be. This is much easier to do than moving it later. Once baby arrivesvyou wont really care/notice how much time you've been off already.

  • Yes Counter, completely understandable. Both my options are based no me being able to afford to take 39 or 52 weeks. If I end up having to take 26 then I'll work as late as I can for longer time off the other side!

  • I work in an office but its a portakabin as on an airfeild so not very warm, have to go to another block for the toilet and i dont have a  kitchen to make decent food. Also the drive, although only 35 mins isn't on great roads. I am starting my mat leave the 3rd march and I am due on the 12th April. Although I am in a slightly different situationas I wont be returning to this job so i do not have a strict date to return to work. I would go for the first option as it seems like you are (like me) keen to have some "me time" before and if baby does come at around 37 weeks then you will have had some of that beforehand.

  • I don't regret it as I only started mat leave 2 days before my due date and I couldn't carry the holiday over, but it was very long time- now I wish I'd made more of that time for me and H. When do you need to tell them by, as you never know how the end of your pregnancy will pan out- if you become tired etc could you bring it forward- I had sciatica from 30 weeks and made it more difficult to be in my feet all day

  • Noodle - I feel I only have a couple of weeks to decide before I'm pressurised into sharing when I want to start leave and how long for.

  • Due to stress at work with my first, I left at 33 weeks then went 2 weeks overdue I was so very bored and it was such a waste of leave.  This time I am aiming to finish at 35 weeks and use up annual leave before maternity leave starts at 39 weeks when I am hoping to have an ECLS.

  • Pep, am I right in thinking you work in events? If so I'm in a similar position, and the stress is what worries me rather than the commute etc.

    However, having said that, I will go onto lighter duties nearer the end therefore I may as well make the most of that and mooch around the office an extra week than sit at home doing nothing.

    I'd like to start official mat leave as close to due date as possible to maximse time after, using annual leave beforehand but I think mat leave kicks in automatically when you have baby so what if you finish work at say 35 weeks, have 3 weeks annual leave but baby arrives at 37 weeks, do you lose that 1 week worth of annual leave?

  • Then I would go for the later date if it was me, you could always self cert for the last 5 days if things got too hard for you

  • My plan is to finish work on 23rd May then take two weeks annual leave before my due date.  My DD is 7th June which is a Saturday so my mat leave begins 9th June.  I've been very lucky for it all to fall so well in the middle of a new annual leave year.  If I'm really struggling in the weeks running up then I still have 8 days to use up so shjould be ok!  If I didn't have the annual leave then I would probably take more time after baby is born.  

    What are your childcare options?  If it's going to be expensive for chilcare afterwards then you would probably be better taking more time after to save the money IYKWIM

  • I'm finishing at 37+2, I have an office job but with (at least) a 90 minute each way commute of drive/train/tube. I really deliberated over what to do as I do want some time to myself before the baby arrives, but also, like counter, I actually almost feel better at work. Plus there's the money side of it to consider and as I'm not planning on going back to this job I wasn't too worried about time on the other side. I still have 5 days holiday to use up before I finish so I might do 4 day weeks for my last 5 weeks to make things a bit easier.

    Although I'm off on holiday this week and getting a taste of what it's be like to being my mat leave forward a couple of weeks and it's very tempting!

  • Personally is finish earlier. I went on leave at 35+1 and was ready to finish and not think work despite having a desk job. I didn't want to be there anymore I wanted to enjoy the last few weeks of pregnancy. I went 2 weeks overdue so ended up with 7 weeks off (albeit 2 were over Xmas and he year so different I guess) and was not bored at all, I loved it. Remember you will never get this time to yourself again. I portrayed, saw friends and family, cooked, put my feet up and enjoyed being with my bump with no time pressures. I wouldn't change that time for the world even for more time with baby now. I think you'll notice a week to yourself more than one week with baby.

    Sorry for a different slant to things but I think time for yourself is important before baby arrives and you may get none for a long time. I've still not had more than a couple of hours and H is one!

  • Thanks everyone!

    LittleMonkey  - Don't apologise, it is great to hear from both perspectives! Its very helpful.

  • I officially started Mat leave a day before my due date. However I work in a school and had half term the week before this. So I stopped physically working at 38+5. Maya was 1 week overdue so I ended up having 2 weeks off before she arrived.

    I'm a cover teacher so on my feet all day walking from class to class and I was pretty tired come the end but the alternative was to have more time off before hand and have to look after a very lively toddler everyday instead so it was 6 of one half a dozen of
  • The other. Also finishing that late allows me to be off for the rest of the Academic year. I'm off from end of Oct 13 to beginning of September 2014!!
  • I finished at 31 weeks. I planned to work until 36 originally but my office is really stressful due to a variety of staffing issues and I wanted to enjoy my pregnancy at the end as I hadn't been able to at the beginning due to sickness! I don't regret it as I've never planned on going back full time so it doesn't feel as bad.

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