The Importance of Maternity Leave

The time is almost here for your precious baby to arrive. You have planned for their arrival with boxes of diapers, a new crib, and cute outfits. You have all of the necessary essentials as well as your well thought out birth plan. Furthermore, you are this much closer to seeing your little one’s face. However, there is one more very big thing that you need to consider. The one question that you need to ask yourself is, “What should I do about maternity leave?”

Maternity leave is available for most moms and dads to take after they have a baby or adopt a child.

What exactly is maternity leave?

Yes, you are all set, but you need to make sure that your job position is safe while you are taking care of your new son or daughter. This protection comes from the benefit of maternity leave. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, both mom and dad are able to take 12 weeks off. This also applies to parents that are adopting their child. You can start your leave before the baby arrives, however, then you will have less time at home after your child’s arrival.

Also, this only applies if you have been at your job for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours. Your company also has to have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. During your maternity leave your job is protected. Upon your return, you will have the same or equivalent position. You are also still covered by your health insurance while on leave.

Is maternity leave paid?

Maternity leave is not guaranteed to be paid in the U.S. It all depends on your employer and their policies. If you work for companies such as Netflix, Google or Spotify then you have nothing to worry about. As these companies pay their employees while on maternity leave and extend it past 12 weeks. You may also receive your salary if you live in either California, New Jersey or Rhode Island as these states offer paid maternity leave. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of Americans that receive paid maternity leave is 12%.

What should I do for income during maternity leave?

If you have any sick days, personal days or vacation days left then you will be allowed to use them during your leave. Another option that may be available to you is short-term disability. Many companies offer this benefit to mothers after giving birth for their recovery. It is usually available for 6 weeks, but can sometimes be extended for Cesarean births. It can even be used before giving birth due to any pregnancy-related illnesses or medically necessary bed rest. You are usually compensated with anywhere between 50-100% of your salary. Also, make sure to check with your state’s short-term disability benefits. As some states may cover about two-thirds of your salary.

If these options are not available to you then now would be a great time to start saving. Especially if you are in the beginning months of your pregnancy. You can start by reviewing your income and monthly expenses. Cut back on items that you really do not need. Then put a reasonable amount of your income away and save it for when you are on maternity leave.

Why should I even take maternity leave?

It is important for moms especially after giving birth to take time for themselves. Whether you deliver your baby vaginally or by c-section your body needs time to heal. According to FamilyDoctor.org, fully recovering from pregnancy and childbirth can take months as your body has been through a trauma. Many women feel they have recovered by 6-8 weeks, however, it can take longer.

Maternity leave is important for moms to help themselves get well, but also to bond with their baby. Dads also need this time to make sure they bond with their child. Bonding is important for babies as it helps them feel safe and secure. It has long lasting effects on a child’s physical and mental health. As stated on Webmd.com, studies have found that 20% of new moms and dads feel no real emotional attachment to their newborn during those first hours after delivery. It can take weeks or even months for some parents.

In conclusion, knowing the benefits that you are eligible to receive during your maternity is essential. Plan for when and how you would like to take your maternity leave. Will you take the full twelve weeks? Will you receive income during your leave or will you have to use your savings? To help you answer these questions it is best to read your company’s policies and contact your Human Resources department so that there are no surprises. The last thing that you want to deal with when your child arrives is your job position and compensation.