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Maternity Leave - Torn, Time Before or After!

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  • Thanks all.

    I'm finding it all really.... pressurising I guess? Having to decide how long I want to take off as well, H isn't working so its impossible to know how long we will be able to afford (we don't know what line of work he will be in by then or what pay he will be getting!).

  • We've been saving like crazy to try and bump up the 13 weeks where I only get SMP and I've accounted for the saving in petrol while I'm off too.  Can you put so long mat leave in then give them notice if you want to come back earlier?  It's eight weeks here if you want to come back earlier.

  • VT - I can but my work has special packages where if you take a smaller amount of maternity leave you get paid more etc. So it wouldn't financially work if that makes sense. If I say I'm taking a year then only take 6 months I'd only get SMP because I'd said a year, when if I'd said 6 months I'd of got 75% pay for the duration.

  • I didn't get either technically as Luke arrived early at 31 weeks and then he was hospitalised for the length of my maternity leave (I had to resign whilst he was still in PICU) but I often wonder what it would have been like to have had the choice.

    good luck with your decision.

  • I did 4-day weeks from about 30 weeks (I think, or thereabouts) and if you have AL to take I would so, so, SO recommend it. I stopped work at 35 weeks -ish (due to the Christmas break, it just made most sense) using AL and started mat leave officially at 38 weeks. But doing the 4-day weeks, I reckon I could have kept working quite happily right up to 38 weeks or even later (office desk job). Just having that extra day off a week made ALL the difference. I had Wednesdays off so never worked more than 2 days in a row. If it hadn't been for the Christmas thing I reckon 4-day weeks from 30 weeks and then 3-day weeks from 35-38 weeks would have been absolutely fine.

    Also going against the grain slightly but I loved having that time off 'nesting' before my baby was born. It was very special. Like LittleMonkey it helped that I wasn't bored due to it being Christmas, but nevertheless, I look back on that time with great fondness. I'm lucky that he came at 39+2, had I gone two weeks' overdue I may have felt differently. But it meant I had a clean tidy house ready for the baby and was mentally more prepared. I've only just gone back to work and he's over 1 now, I tagged AL on to the end of my leave.

    This time round I'm already p/t so planning to work as late as possible... to save on childcare costs for two babies!

  • I had to take all my annual leave before mat leave started so ended up finishing at 31 weeks with mat leave starting at 38 weeks. Baby then didn't come until 42 weeks so I'd been off for ages. I loved being off! I am good at keeping myself entertained though. I got loads sorted that I'd never have had time to do if I'd been at work. My job isn't manual but it can be pretty stressful at times and I work long hours. I made sure I did loads of things I wouldn't be able to do for ages like going to a spa, getting my hair done, seeing friends, baking and just generally chilling and enjoying being able to leave the house and only thinking if I'd remembered my purse, keys, phone and lippy rather than packing up as though we're going away for a few days!

    It's a really personal decision but I have no regrets. I am able to take 12 months from when I was 38 weeks though. I did get a little fed up towards the end but that was due to being nearly 10 months pregnant with no sign of it ending and that would have happened regardless of when I finished.

  • I'm undecided & think I will see how I am health wise. Def want a couple of weeks off to myself. Summer us ridiculously quiet in my work so I wouldn't be stressed but I might get peed off sitting in work thinking of what I could be doing at home. It's a tough call. Ideally I want to take a year off including annual leave so I really need to work out those figures - I just can't be bothered at the minute!

  • Oh and just to add... you DEFINITELY won't ever get time to yourself once your baby's here, and if you do, you'll still be thinking about them! So I'd take the time to just chill, watch what you want without interruptions, eat what you want without a baby grabbing it, and go for uninterrupted wees!

  • Thanks all. I think I'm swaying towards option one at the minute!

  • I finished at 33 weeks and went into labour on my due date giving me 7 blissful weeks. E was a January baby though so weather wasn't fab for my 2 hour commute,  my job was extremely stressful with hideous hours, and I had xmas in the middle and also lost my grandad at 34 weeks so it was right for me iyswim. I'd have been signed off with stress otherwise

    I don't regret it even though I hated returning to work. I enjoyed and needed the me time and I'll do the same again next time (if...)

  • Another good question to ask yourself is how has your pregnancy been so far. I had severe vomiting in my 1st trimester, it eased in my later part of the 2nd trimester but has come back during my 3rd trimester. Although I'm not vomiting as much now, I've found the difficulty sleeping, and general pregnancy niggles coupled with the vomiting has crucified me in the later stages. Thankfully by using A/L I've only been doing a few days a week, if I'd have still been working full time I would have been signed of sick by now (34+3) because I've struggled to function even with the day time naps. I finish on 13th Feb and cannot wait to not have to set my alarm clock and drag myself out of bed.

  • I finished at 36 weeks, had 2 weeks AL so mat leave started at 38 weeks, I didn't have E until 42 weeks. I was like you and really wanted some time to wind down beforehand, but now I'm 6 weeks into mat leave already and E is only 2 weeks old! You never know how you will feel, so all I can suggest is try and strike a nice balance. Sorry, not much help x

  • I was originally planning to finish at 37 weeks, take hols and my mat leave start at 39 weeks, I decided to bring it forward slightly to finish work at 36+3, however O had other ideas and arrived the week before! I still had a week and a day at work before I was due to finish. Great in the sense that my mat leave therefore started that day and I now have a couple of weeks hols to add to the end of my leave but I was really looking forward to some rest time before he arrived and had some things I planned on H and I doing just the two of us do obviously that didn't happen!

  • I've been having the same debate/argument with myself Pep.

    I'm cureently thinking of finishing work at 36  weeks using AL,  start mat leave at 40 weeks.  I will also do 3 or 4 day weeks in the run up to finishing using AL.

    It could mean I've got 6 weeks at home and I'll be bored, or maybe baby will have other ideas?  Either way I honestly can't wait to finish work, I am so disinterested already and I can't imagine my motivation coming back again!

    I don't think I'm meant to carry AL over to the next year which will start on the 1st of April 15, so I want to use it all up as I'm unlikely to return before then.

  • With O, I stopped at 36 weeks and he was nearly 2 weeks overdue. We could only afford for me to be off for 6 months so when I went back to work, he was about 4.5 months old and it really upset me.

    With L, I stopped at 38+6  and  she was 4 days overdue, but as I stopped 2 days before the Christmas holiday, HR paid me 2 days of sick pay and then started my maternity pay on my due date. I also was able to stay off until L was 6 months old and I was ok with leaving her.

    For me, I'd prefer to have more time with my baby than before the birth, and I'd work as late as possible again with #3.

  • Thanks all. I tried to look at this morning as no matter what I'll start maternity leave at 38 weeks, which is about right I feel. Then, the 1-2 weeks of annual leave prior to that are days I'd end up taking before I left anyway - and they are days that would have been used for me to lounge around etc! So that made me feel a little less guilty. Ha!

    Imp - Thats how I feel. Couldn't have said it better myself...

  • I'm sorry Pep, I can't give you a crystal ball and know what is the best thing to do. I'm in the same boat at the moment and need to sort out what I'm gonna do, but my heads in a spin with it all. I was planning on taking 4wks AL first then starting ML but I'm not sure if baby arrives early during AL if I will lose the AL owed, I need to look into that.

    I hope you make your decision and it all comes together matey :)

  • LeeLee - Unless your company allows you to roll it over you would lose it. Your maternity leave automatically starts whenever baby arrives :)

  • Pep, I had 10 days holiday to use between Christmas and going off on maternity leave. Because my cover can't start until a certain date (I'll be 37 weeks), I decided to use the holiday to get me through to then to make sure I use it in case the baby comes early. So I have this week off which is a lovely break and still have another 5 days to use over the next 5 weeks. If my boss agrees I might use one day a week so I only have to work 4-day weeks which might take a bit of the pressure off with my commute and knowing I can catch up on sleep etc if I need to.

  • Dumble Squad, I think I will be in the same position as you in that I'll have to go back to work early because we won't be able to afford not to. What did you do in terms of child care?

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