If you have a job where you work for someone else outside your home, the typical leave of absence for childbirth will be six to eight weeks. This is not necessarily a paid leave. What you are given is the opportunity to return to your job after a certain period of time. If your employer's business is too small to be covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) you may not even have that guarantee. Basically, in that case you cannot expect much of anything unless it is given to you out of the goodness of your employer's heart.
Maternity leave is a job benefit that allows new moms to take several weeks (usually about six) away from the job without jeopardizing their position or seniority.
Six to eight weeks may seem like a lot of time when your baby is not due for several months. You may plan to work until delivery and then spend your maternity leave with baby until you are ready to go back to work. However, your leave also includes any time you might need before you give birth. If you have a difficult pregnancy you may need to use up some of your leave before you even have your baby.
All you can do is try to plan ahead as best as possible, so you are not caught off guard, no matter what happens. As soon as you can after you discover you are pregnant, find out what your employer's policy is on maternity or pregnancy leave. The more information you have, the better you will be able to plan. If your employer does not offer maternity leave, you might want to save up your sick days and vacation time to use instead.
Can You Afford the Time Away from Work?
When you're deciding whether you'll stay home with your baby, you need to assess your financial situation. If you choose not to return to work right away after your baby is born, and you know where you stand financially, you can devise all kinds of creative solutions to suit your financial needs. All it takes is simplifying your lifestyle to fit a single income. Here are some likely places to cut costs:
- Consider selling that second car. Since you won't have a commute to work, you can save the insurance, upkeep, and loan payments—a significant monthly savings.
- Reduce your monthly clothing and dry-cleaning budget. You won't need to keep up that corporate dress code when you're home with the baby, and you'll be more comfortable in casual clothes around the house anyway (unless you're Donna Reed or the mom in Leave It to Beaver).
- Whenever you can, without cutting back on quality, consider generic brands in the grocery store and at the cosmetics counter. Rice Krispies taste the same as the generic type of rice cereal, but can cost two to three times more.
- If you and your partner often went out to eat before baby was born, you'll find you're saving in that department without even trying—you won't want to leave the baby with a sitter when she's really little, so you'll be eating at home a lot more now.