Aug 29, 2021
As I sit down to write this I am 7 months pregnant. And yes, I am already thinking about my maternity leave. It’s not the kind of thinking that involves day dreaming of long walks with my new babe, warm summer days of baby naps, and that baby bubble blur. It’s more the “how the heck is this all going to work?” kind of thoughts.
I, like us all, turned to Google but when you search anything to do with maternity leave or baby you either get UIF adverts or lists of what to pack in your hospital bag. And while both are important that’s not the info I was after. What I wanted to know was how to plan for maternity leave to make it work for me and my business - what needs to be done, how to get it done and everything in between. With no luck on the Google front I turned to my organisational, planning obsession and thought I would share my findings for any other mamas-to-be out there:
- Save some money honey! I know that’s boring and depressing, especially with all the adorable baby things around, but I have created a little ‘baby fund’. This little fund doesn’t necessary have to cover all the serious things like hospital bills and checkups but rather a little bit extra for those newborn shoots, and unexpected “must haves” as you go down the line.
- If you work for a corporate know your maternity leave policy and make it work for you - I have friends who saved up their annual leave and were able to add a whole extra month onto their maternity leave.
- Decide when you are going to start your maternity leave - are you going to take a few weeks before baby arrives or are you going to work right up until labour starts? This is such a personal choice, and of course it’s not one I can decide for you, but work out how you feel, spend some time discussing this with your partner, and go with what will work best for you.
- If you run your own business (hello me!) then you need to start putting contingencies in place and building up your support system. At first I thought, “it’s okay, I can still work with the babe” but truth be told I want to really nurture myself in the postpartum period - the importance of this time for a mama and babe must not be underrated, and I do not want to rush back into emails and orders straight away. I want to be able to do it at my own pace and have the support to do so. If you are a small business, look at hiring someone to assist during this time with day to day logistics - this doesn’t mean handing over your “business baby” but rather see it as valuing and nurturing both babies and yourself at the same time.
- Treat yourself. You gals know by now I am big on self care and it’s something that I have had to really learn to value and prioritise, especially since becoming a mom. Now that I am about to hit the newborn stage again I am determined to not let my self care disappear (again). Of course I know it probably will take a backseat for the first few months, or rather change shape and form but until then I am all about a little self care during pregnancy. Gosh, add Covid into the whole equation and things can get a bit tricky but I do love a good pregnancy massage!
- This time round, considering I am having a baby in a pandemic, like many of you, I am trying to navigate around how and where my mama tribe is going to come from. To me one of the most important aspects of being a newborn mama is your tribe - my own mum, family and mama friends are vital. This is something I am giving more thought to this time around because of more limited interactions. Please let the vaccine program kick in and we can all start seeing each other a bit more and cuddling each others’ babies - right? I think the key is to find like-minded mamas and embrace them, open up to them, and build your village.
- Prepare for visitors. There are so many little memes and viral instagram posts about visiting mamas: “take a meal, don’t over stay” etc etc but who shares them? New mamas! This time round I am consciously exploring my boundaries, and my partner and I are deciding how we want to handle visitors and obligations. I am saying more no’s this time around.
- Get help! Don’t think that you can do it all on your own. Invest in a support system. A nanny is a wonderful relationship to build from day one. A righthand woman is what every mama needs!
- For second-time mamas it isn’t just work that needs thinking about, it’s the babies that are now becoming big siblings. My girls are old enough to be excited but that doesn’t mean I am not worried about the transition or thinking about how we are going to navigate becoming a family of five. My advice for this is that you need to honour these feelings, don’t push them aside, feel them, process them. Yes, the new baby is exciting but it’s natural to wonder how things are going to work… do not disregard your feelings.
- Paperwork! Get it done. I saved the most boring part for last but paperwork is the worst. Make sure you are on top of it before your maternity leave starts and ends. School applications, birth certificates, passports, UIF forms etc etc. Get them printed and filled out as much as possible before baby comes earth side. It’s worth it.
Gosh, a new baby! I can still hardly believe it. I am so excited and this time around I feel armed with so much more knowledge and authority about honouring the fourth trimester. I am not rushing back to things. Slowing down, baby indulgences and allowing myself space to become a mom to a new being once more is something that I am really looking forward to. I have also communicated these emotions to my partner so that we are on the same page during this time. I am so lucky to have such supportive husband, but communication is still so key in managing babies and hormones!