Your legs ache, your back aches, you seem to have a bowling ball sitting heavily on your pelvis and can’t remember the last time you went a whole hour without having to go to the loo for a tinkle. If this is where you are now the chances are that you are ready for your maternity leave.
When you take your maternity leave depends on how you feel, your health, the advice of the professionals supporting you through pregnancy and of course where you work and what your role involves. Some wait as long as they are able before finishing work in order to maximise the amount of time they have off with their new baby while others book their maternity leave a little earlier in order to give themselves a rest before becoming a mum, either for the first time or again.
Many women see the approaching maternity leave as a magical and mystical time off work where they will be able to relax and rest before the big event and enjoy a wonderful break off as a new mother during this long holiday period. This tends to be the dream as opposed to the reality and while maternity leave should be looked forward to it is important to be realistic.
Before the Birth – The Dream
You will leave work glowing, proud, excited and feeling wonderful. You spend the next few weeks alternating between shopping for cute outfits, getting the nursery ready, trawling parenting blogs and sites and resting.
Before the Birth – The Reality
By the time you leave work there is a chance that you will be feeling very ready to leave work. You may not, you might be bright eyed and bushy tailed still however make sure you anticipate the fact that your energy levels could be starting to wane and have any “big” preparation tasks complted before this point if possible.
As for sitting around watching daytime television be aware that sitting anywhere if you are struggling with pregnancy induced piles could be problematic. Staying active for as long as possible is important for your health and will help with the birth. Resting is equally important so plan proper rest time and naps when needed, especially if at this stage you are finding that your night sleep routine is being disturbed by a certain little someone.
After the Birth – The Dream
You will return triumphant from hospital, your front room or wherever your labour and birth took place and slide flawlessly into being a mother of a newborn, whether you have done this before or not.
You will spend your maternity leave taking baby out for walks, visiting family and enjoying a leisurely fun time with your new family.
After the Birth – The Reality
Hopefully all goes to plan and the dream is pretty much your own reality. For some however upon reaching home and starting the portion of your maternity that has a new baby in it may be a little different than expected. Baby might not sleep through the night, the afternoon or the hour very often, despite older siblings having done.
You may return home feeling rather sore and needing extra help, especially if you had a c-section. Juggling feedtime, mealtimes, the rest of the family, housework and everything else may not come as easy as expected so ensure you have plenty of support around when needed and peace and quite when it isn’t.
Also ensure when planning your maternity leave that you take into account that for some of your leave the likelihood will be that you may be on a reduced income as maternity pay does lessen as the leave progresses.
Making the Dream a Reality
Planning is key to making the dream a reality. Don’t take for granted that you will feel extra energetic, that your gorgeous newborn will enjoy sleep as much as you do, that breastfeeding will be easy straight away and that your previous routines will work with a new baby thrown into the mix. Make sure that you line up the support that you need in advance, that you plan, prepare and freeze meals for ease over those first few weeks as a new mother and above all plan to enjoy the time you have as maternity leave flies by!
So how was your maternity leave ?
We would love to hear your thoughts – was it blissful or were you desperate to get back to work ? Please leave your comments for us below…