smiling pregnant woman at work on the phone and looking at her laptop

Maternity Leave Plan: A Strategic Guide for Working Moms

Share this with your friends!

Creating a maternity leave plan, for both your employer and yourself, is a crucial step to ensuring a smooth transition into motherhood. Preparing for maternity leave can help you focus on your new, busy life as a mom so that you don’t have to worry about work. 

Maternity leave prep isn’t just about your job’s benefits policies, although that is certainly part of it. The preparation needed for your future maternity leave includes building a strong support network, setting boundaries, communicating expectations with your hospital and planning experiences that tend to your overall well-being.

There are huge areas to consider when taking maternity leave. Financial preparations need to be looked at for paying for a hospital stay, insurances, etc. Setting up connections and community is important too, local and online, to have someone to ask questions to or be there with you. There’s just so much to communicate, share, and prepare. Not to mention, time to relax and mentally prepare for this new journey.

I know how important this process is, and that’s why this guide is here. By the end of this post, you’ll have down all the essential steps to plan for your upcoming maternity leave.

Preparing for my own maternity leave was a whirlwind of emotions and to-do lists. Juggling work and the impending arrival of my little one was beyond hard. But as I navigated through it all, I realized how crucial it was to have a plan in place.

That’s why I’m all about encouraging fellow moms to do the same. I want them to know that with a solid maternity leave plan, they can tackle motherhood with confidence and without the added stress of work hanging over their heads. It’s about taking charge of this special time in your life and making it as smooth and stress-free as possible. Here are my top tips for planning a solid maternity leave:

1. Do Your Homework and Know Your Rights

Woman sitting in front of the laptop on her phone

The first step of creating a maternity leave plan demands a little homework, but should not be skipped. Take a deep breath and prioritize knowing your rights both as an employee and expecting parent.

Start by understanding your company’s policies: how much paid leave do they offer? Does it combine with your accrued vacation time? Research federal programs like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which can guarantee eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

Also, look up state-specific laws that might offer additional benefits. Familiarize yourself with any forms or documentation you might need to provide and the process for requesting leave. Knowing these details upfront can help you plan your maternity leave more effectively and alleviate any potential stress during this important time.

Remember, knowledge empowers you to negotiate, plan effectively, and approach your maternity leave with confidence and clarity.

2. Create Your Maternity Leave Plan

When it comes to planning your maternity leave, getting your ducks in a row early on can make a big difference. Below are some steps you can use to create a comprehensive maternity leave plan for work that you can communicate effectively to your job.

Start by jotting down what you’ll need, like how long you plan to be out and who’s going to cover your work while you’re away. Make sure your plan follows company rules and legal requirements, and understand how your benefits will work while you’re on leave.

Some of the key things you should add to your plan include:

  1. Dates: Note when you’ll start and finish your leave, and if you’re taking any extra time off.
  2. Work Coverage: Figure out who’s covering for you while you’re out and make sure they’re set up to handle your tasks.
  3. Staying Connected: Decide how often and how you’ll check in with your team while you’re on leave (although you shouldn’t be obligated to)!
  4. Coming Back: Plan out your return, including any changes to your schedule or work setup.
  5. Emergency Contacts: Provide contact info in case your employer needs to reach you during your leave.

3. Share Your Maternity Leave Plan with Your Employer

After you’ve created your maternity leave plan, set up a sit-down with HR to go over your plan. Include anyone else that might need to sign off on your plan to get it approved.

Some additional tips:

  • Make sure you keep a copy of your plan and make sure your employer has one too.
  • Be flexible and remain open to feedback from your employer and changes. Be ready to adjust your plan if needed.
  • Make sure to be crystal clear about when you’ll be out and what you expect when you return.
  • Talk through how your workload will be handled while you’re out, and if you’re up for it, see if there’s room for a flexible schedule when you’re back on the job.

Don’t forget to keep an ear out for any feedback or concerns your employer might have. And, as always, document everything you agree on so there’s no confusion later on.

4. Prepare Financially for Maternity Leave

Ensuring financial stability before maternity leave is crucial for working women. This is not the best time to have a drop in income and employers know this. That’s why there are many programs in place to help moms-to-be and new families to be prepared. Two ways to prepare are by starting a baby fund and discussing with HR about adding your newborn to your insurance policy. 

Creating a Baby Fund for Future Expenses

A baby fund is essentially a safety net for the coming expenses associated with having a new arrival. Setting aside money for your baby’s needs, such as diapers, clothing, and childcare costs, is an important part of preparing financially. To start building this fund:

  • Calculate the amount of money required to be put aside for the expected expenses.
  • Create a monthly budget specifically dedicated to saving towards these goals.
  • Automate transfers from your checking account into the designated savings account each month.
  • Cut back on non-essential spending or look for ways to increase income if needed.

Discussing Insurance Policies with HR

In addition to creating a baby fund, it’s important to talk with your company’s Human Resources department about health insurance coverage options for both yourself and the new addition to your family. When you have this conversation, make sure to address these points:

  1. Inquire about any waiting periods or restrictions related to adding dependents onto existing policies after birth.
  2. Ask about the process for updating your insurance policy to include your newborn, such as necessary paperwork and deadlines.
  3. Find out if there are any additional costs associated with adding a dependent on your plan, so you can budget accordingly.
  4. Discuss options for extending coverage during maternity leave, especially if it’s unpaid or partially paid. This may involve switching to a different plan temporarily or utilizing COBRA benefits.

Taking these proactive steps will help ensure that both you and your baby have adequate health coverage from day one. It also allows you to focus on enjoying those precious first moments together without the added stress of financial concerns looming overhead. 

Recommended post: Children Education Savings Plan: Pros and Cons of Using a 529

5. Plan Your Maternity Leave Schedule

Woman writing in planner with post its

Timing is essential when planning maternity leave. Begin planning your leave before the baby arrives to ensure you have ample time to prepare and relax, allowing yourself some much-needed rest before welcoming the new addition to your family. In this section, we’ll discuss starting maternity leave early and allowing time for relaxation and self-care.

Starting Maternity Leave Early

Many working moms make the mistake of waiting until their due date or even later to start their maternity leave. However, it’s important that you give yourself enough time not only for physical recovery but also for mental preparation beforehand. 

Perhaps you didn’t know this, but you can start your maternity leave early. Not only is it an option, but it should be your choice to start your leave a few weeks before your estimated due date. By giving yourself a couple of weeks free of work responsibilities, you can focus on nesting at home and preparing your mind for motherhood.

There are some things that you need in place before leaving work, just to remove any burdens that your absence may create, but also to make it easier for you when you return. 

So in order to take your leave seamlessly, you should:

  • Create a plan: Discuss with your employer how much time off you’ll need and any necessary arrangements for coverage during your absence.
  • Prioritize tasks: Before leaving work, ensure all important projects are completed or delegated so there won’t be any loose ends while you’re away.
  • Inform colleagues: Keep coworkers informed about when they should expect updates from you after giving birth. This helps set realistic expectations regarding communication during your absence.

Allowing Time for Relaxation and Self-Care

Maintaining a healthy balance between work life and personal life becomes even more critical during pregnancy and after. This is where the real struggle of work/life balance becomes evident. 

As a pregnant woman, looking after yourself is essential to ensure both your physical and psychological readiness for the baby’s arrival. Here are some self-care tips to consider during your maternity leave:

  1. Prenatal yoga or exercise classes: Joining a prenatal yoga class can help you stay active and alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain and swelling. Try Prenatal Yoga Center’s online yoga classes for an at-home option.
  2. Meditation and mindfulness practices: Practicing mindfulness can reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, and increase overall well-being during pregnancy.
  3. Nutrition planning: Eating a balanced diet is essential for both you and your growing baby. Use your early maternity leave to plan nutritious meals that will keep you energized throughout the day.
  4. Sleep routines: Establishing healthy sleep habits before the baby arrives will make it easier to adjust once nighttime feedings begin. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each night whenever possible. For tips on creating a night routine that will leave you rejuvenated, check out 13 Self-Care Night Ideas That Will Change Your Life.

For optimal well-being and a successful transition back to work, make sure you practice healthy habits that promote balance in your life. Remember that taking care of yourself is just as important as preparing for the arrival of your little one.

Recommended post: 11 Useful Pumping at Work Tips for Moms Returning to the Office

6. Build Your Support Network

Building a strong support network is so important at this stage of your life. I highly recommend connecting with other moms-to-be or reconnecting with old friends who have already been in your shoes. You’ll be surprised how much valuable advice, encouragement, and support they’ll be able to offer through this journey. In this section, we’ll discuss how you can build your network- right from the communities around you.

Finding Mom Groups in Local Communities or Online Platforms

Joining mom groups, in person or online, are great places to share experiences and gain knowledge from others who are in the same boat as you. These groups often offer a safe space to talk about concerns and questions you may have, and you’ll be able to receive emotional support from other moms.

Here are some places you can find mom groups to join:

  • Local community centers: Many community centers offer parenting classes or workshops that cater specifically to expectant mothers. Check out your local center’s schedule for upcoming events that interest you.
  • Social media: There are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to connecting moms based on location or interests (like working moms). Search for relevant keywords such as “mom group” along with your city name to find good options.
  • Websites like or Apps: These platforms allow users to create and join various interest-based clubs within their area – including those focused on parenting. Visit the site’s Mom Meetups page, enter your zip code, and browse events and gatherings near you. I tried the Peanut App as well, and met some great local moms who I connected with. It’s a great place to ask questions on forums too, for example, on specific topics like breastfeeding or baby sleep.

Reconnecting With Old Friends Who Are Mothers

If you’ve lost touch with some friends over time due to work commitments or other reasons but know they’re now parents themselves – it’s time to reconnect. These old friends can offer invaluable insights and advice based on their own experiences. Here are some ways to rekindle those relationships:

  1. Reach out via social media: Send a friendly message letting them know how excited you are about becoming a mom and asking how they’ve been since you last spoke. This can be an excellent icebreaker for starting conversations around parenthood.
  2. Schedule a catch-up session: Invite them over for coffee or lunch, where you can discuss your pregnancy journey, ask questions about motherhood, and share stories from the past.
  3. Create opportunities for regular interaction: Once you’ve reconnected with old friends who are mothers, make plans to meet up regularly – whether it’s through playdates with kids or attending parenting classes together.

Overall, building a strong support network is crucial to make the transition into maternity leave much smoother. By re-connecting with old mom friends and befriending fellow moms-to-be in local communities or online platforms, you’ll feel more prepared than ever before to welcome your new bundle of joy into the world.

7. Set Boundaries With Overbearing Relatives

Here’s something you might not be expecting but many new moms find themselves dealing with- overbearing relatives. It’s important to establish boundaries as early as possible on things like hospital visits and how you plan to care and raise your newborn. In this section, we’ll discuss some tips for communicating expectations clearly and establishing visitation rules at the hospital.

Communicating Expectations Clearly

The first step in setting boundaries is having an open conversation with your relatives about your expectations. Be assertive but respectful when expressing your needs and desires during this time. For example, you might say something like:

“I appreciate your excitement about the baby, but I need some time to rest and bond with my newborn. I’ll let you know when we’re ready for visitors.”

This way you’re showing that you acknowledge their good intentions while also asserting that you need space for yourself.

You may also want to consider creating a visitation plan, which outlines who will be allowed in the delivery room or visiting hours after birth. Share this plan with everyone involved so they know what to expect ahead of time.

Establishing Visitation Rules at the Hospital

Hospitals have different policies regarding visitors during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery periods. Familiarize yourself with these policies by contacting your hospital or facility or consulting their website before discussing them with relatives.

  • Labor & Delivery: Some hospitals only allow one or two support persons (such as a partner or doula) in the room during active labor due to safety concerns.
  • Mother-Baby Unit: Once transferred from Labor & Delivery, you might have more flexibility with visitors. Still, you should prioritize your own rest and bonding time with the baby. Trust me, you’ll be too exhausted to entertain anyway!
  • Visiting Hours: Hospitals often enforce specific visiting hours for non-immediate family members or friends. Make sure everyone is aware of these restrictions to avoid conflicts or misunderstandings.

If you prefer limiting visitors during your hospital stay, you should let your relatives know clearly in advance. For example, you could say:

“We’re only allowing immediate family members visit us at the hospital. We appreciate your understanding.”

In addition to setting boundaries regarding visits, be prepared to address any unsolicited advice from well-meaning relatives about parenting decisions (e.g., breastfeeding vs. formula feeding). I remember this happening a lot in the beginning, and it only made me overwhelmed and annoyed. You can politely respond by saying something like:

“Thank you for your input, but we’ve decided to follow our pediatrician’s recommendations.”

Even if they roll their eyes at you, handling unsolicited advice gracefully helps you maintain positive relationships while asserting your autonomy as a parent.

To summarize, establishing clear boundaries with overbearing relatives early on protects the privacy and wellbeing of both you and your newborn during this crucial period in your lives. It’s important to set boundaries with overbearing relatives before the baby arrives, so that you can enjoy maternity leave without feeling overwhelmed.

Recommended post: 33 Inspirational Overwhelmed Mom Quotes

8. Enjoy Guilt-Free Indulgences Before Baby Arrives

pregnant woman receiving a prenatal massage

Earlier, we covered planning your maternity schedule to include rest and relaxation. But even as you await the arrival of your sweet baby, it’s important to take some time for yourself and indulge in guilt-free pleasures while you still can. This helps you relieve stress and helps you get into a good, healthy mindset leading up to childbirth. In this section, we’ll explore various ways you can treat yourself without feeling guilty and make memorable experiences pre-baby.

Treating Yourself Without Feeling Guilty

Pregnancy is a unique period in your life that you should absolutely celebrate! You can both keep up with a healthy lifestyle and give yourself permission for the occasional treat. There’s nothing wrong with savoring your favorite ice cream or other sweet treats. If the Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs cravings hit once in a while, go ahead and answer the call.

Besides satisfying your sweet tooth, consider pampering yourself with spa treatments like massages or facials specifically designed for pregnant women. Many spas offer prenatal massages, which can help alleviate pregnancy-related discomforts such as back pain and swollen feet.

Making Memorable Experiences Pre-Baby

Here are some great ways you can make some fabulous memories while you wait for baby to arrive:

  • Babymoon: Plan a relaxing getaway with your partner pre-baby – commonly known as a “babymoon.” Choose destinations that cater to expectant parents’ needs, offering prenatal spa services and comfortable accommodations like those found at the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage or Miraval Resorts.
  • Maternity Photoshoot: Capture the beauty of your pregnancy with a professional maternity photoshoot. Many photographers specialize in creating stunning images that showcase your growing belly and the love between you and your partner, such as those at Junebug Weddings.
  • Baby Shower: Host a baby shower to celebrate the upcoming arrival of your little one with friends and family. It may sounds cheesy or unnecessary but it allows loved ones to come together, offering support, advice, and gifts to help prepare for parenthood – plus it’s an excellent opportunity to host a fun party! If you’re not a fan of traditional baby showers, you can host a co-ed “sprinkle” and just invite your friends over for mocktails, food, and games.

It’s important to let down your hair a bit before the baby comes and enjoy yourself guilt-free. I don’t need to tell you you’ll have your hands full once baby comes, so the more you can do things like travel and celebrate, the better!


In wrapping up, getting ready for maternity leave is a mix of practical planning and emotional readiness. Know your rights, plan your leave, and share your plan with your boss to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Financially, it’s smart to start a baby fund and chat with HR about insurance. Planning your time off, starting early, and making room for self-care can help you make the most of your leave.

And don’t forget to lean on your support system, set boundaries with pushy relatives, and treat yourself guilt-free before the baby comes. These steps can help you enjoy your time off and get ready for the excitement that’s coming ahead!

FAQs in Relation to Maternity Leave Preparation

Some key things you can do to prepare for maternity leave include getting familiar with the relevant federal and state leave laws, like the Family Medical Leave Act, and your company’s policies. You should also set up a baby fund, reach out to mom groups and friends, and make sure you treat yourself guilt-free before the baby comes!

It’s best to start preparing for maternity leave as soon as you find out you’re pregnant so you have time to financially prepare, discuss options with your employer, and plan your transition away from work.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *