To get the most out of your maternity leave, it's important to plan ahead:
- Confirm your pregnancy and due date. If you've noticed early signs of pregnancy, take a pregnancy test with conception indicator, then make an appointment with your doctor to confirm the pregnancy and find out your
- Learn about your options. Read the Service Canada webpage to learn about federal employment insurance (EI) and maternity, parental, and sickness benefits and when to apply for them. Look into your workplace's policies on maternity leave, and see how much unused sick time and vacation time you've accrued. Don't use all of your vacation or sick time to extend your leave - you may need some of it during your pregnancy.
- Plan the details. Decide how long your leave will be and when you'd like to start it, whether you will be splitting the time with your partner, and whether you'll be available to your workplace for questions and support during your leave. Schedule your leave to start a couple of weeks before your due date - your baby may arrive early or you may feel unwell during the last couple of weeks of pregnancy. If you still feel fine near your due date, or if your baby is overdue, you can always decide to work longer.
- Arrange your leave. Talk to your supervisor about the timing of your leave, any necessary paperwork, maternity benefits and insurance while you are away, arrangements to cover your workload, and whether you will be available for questions during your leave. Many women find that the best time for this is when they are 3 to 5 months pregnant. Any further into the pregnancy makes it harder to plan for the transition. After you've told your supervisor about your pregnancy, it's up to you when to tell your co-workers.
- Line up childcare for after your leave. If you want a daycare spot in time for your return from maternity leave, get on several waiting lists in early pregnancy.
- Plan for the transition. A few months before you plan to leave, start cleaning up your "to do" list and wrapping up your projects. Prepare briefs for your replacement and clean up your files so everything is easy to find. Avoid long-term projects in your last trimester - if your baby is born early, this could leave loose ends. In the last month, inform your clients of your upcoming leave and introduce your replacement. On your last day, set up an out-of-office message that explains how long you will be gone and who to contact until you return.
- Set up a support network. Going from full-time worker to full-time mom can be a real challenge. Make sure you have a few good friends to call on, and look into programs and meeting groups in your community where you can get in touch with other new moms.
- Expect the unexpected. Pregnancy can be unpredictable! Be prepared to be flexible with your plans to accommodate situations like extra sick days, an early delivery, or an overdue baby.
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