I'm lucky in that MIL has the kids on the days that I work, I only do three days a week. Otherwise, I would be using the childminder who lives over the road from me,
Just realised I called you Dumblesquad lol! Sorry
I would go for time off after the birth. When I had Molly I was working long hours in a stressful desk job, I worked up to the Friday in my 37th week and gave birth the following Tuesday!!! I only had five months to take in total though so to me that was the best way to do it and I do not regret it for a minute. Could you work reduced hours in the lead up to your maternity leave?
You still accrue annual leave during your time on maternity leave. I finished work at 36 weeks - I had a couple of weeks leave to take, then started ML. Baby arrived at 40+10 so I had off quite a long period before hand, although obviously you can't control when the baby will turn up. Our leave year ran from April to March and I stopped working at the beginning of March, used up my AL for that year. I had a year off work which took me to nearly the end of the next leave year. I thought they'd pay me for it, but they had a policy of not doing this, so I returned to work having 4 weeks leave. I'd already arranged nursery care for my daughter so she started (part time) and I had some time off at the end. It was accidental but worked really well. And by that stage she had gone through a clingy only wanting mummy phase and I was quite pleased to have a bit of a break (although I did feel bad about that too).