As I am in the last stretch of my 3rd trimester, there are quite a number of things to prepare for my maternity leave. I’m in Toronto, Canada so my experience might be very different from yours.
To start, we get a choice of 12 months or 18 months of maternity leave in Canada. What this means is that we can claim Employment Insurance (EI) while on maternity leave. This will somewhat help financially. Also, my employer has a top up system that will give me a little more than the standard EI.
Having said that, everyone has to make their own decision as to what is best for their family whether to stay home or return to work earlier due to their own circumstances. I am choosing the 18 months as it would allow me to spend more time with the two little ones and save money on daycare fees.
Since this is my second maternity leave, I am sharing some tips for what would be helpful to know and prepare as you or your partner go on your maternity leave.
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Here are 5 maternity leave tips you need to know:
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1. Forms for work
Before you go on leave, be sure to find out what forms you will need for work so that they have on record that you are going on maternity leave. Also, it would be helpful for them to know when you will be leaving so that they can get another staff or hire someone to do your tasks temporarily.
These forms might be simple to find or can be complicated based on the company you work for.
Also, based on my own experience, it might take some time to process so you will want to do it ahead of time so that it does get processed by the time that you give birth.
If they would need to hire someone temporarily, they might want to have someone there prior to you leaving so that the transition will be smooth and that you can answer any questions they might have.
Ask your supervisor or someone in Human Resources what you’ll need to fill out prior to you leaving.
It’s always helpful to speak to someone earlier as they can give you information you might not even think about. For example, someone advised me about the form I will need to fill out after my baby is born to add the name to my health insurance coverage.
Getting ready for a baby will be less stressful when you’ve filled in all the forms you need for work and also not needing to worry about work and its related forms while you’re on your maternity leave.
2. Forms for government after birth
Preparing and knowing what you need to do for the government after birth is very important prior to giving birth.
Important things to note such as registering the baby, claiming your EI, etc. are crucial to know beforehand as you might be tired from the lack of sleep. Your world revolves around this little one and other ‘little’ ones if you have other children.
Ask questions if you are unsure.
Your OB or midwife might be able to tell you where you can get further information if you would like to know more. If not, you can always look online.
You might not necessarily be able to fill in the forms and submit them before you give birth. However, make a list and be sure to do them after the little one arrives.
If it helps, write it down or type it out and send it to your spouse. Be sure to remember where you put it. It could be on the fridge or a shared email account. Whichever that you decide, just remember where the to do list is.
3. Preparing for baby essentials
My midwife told me that babies do not really need much besides diapers and a safe space to sleep and be.
I would add a little more than that to the list.
Here are some baby essentials that you should think about:
- Where the baby is going to sleep
- Diapers and Clothing
- Car Seat if you are driving baby home and around (this is similar to the one we have)
- Bath essentials (this is the baby bathtub we used and will be using)
- Formula and bottles (if you plan to do just formula, mixed feeding, or just in case if your milk supply has not come in yet in the beginning)
4. Preparing for the first (and/or second week) after baby is born
Preparation is so important, especially during this new season of life for everyone. Not only you need to prepare for the baby’s essentials but also think about yours and your family’s lifestyle.
First, consider the meal plan.
What are you guys going to eat during the first and/or second week after the baby arrives? Do you need to prepare some freezer meals that are easier to put in the oven or is someone going to cook for you?
If you have other children, they also need to eat at meal times, not just whenever the baby is sleeping. Have some sort of plan and arrange for it to happen by asking a spouse, friend, or set an alarm if it will help everyone eat somewhat regularly.
Secondly, think about the night time routine.
This is something that my husband and I are still discussing about what we would do about the night time routine when the baby comes.
Since we have a toddler, there is a schedule of when we start preparing for bed and put her down to sleep. When we have two kids, it would be a little more challenging than just waiting for a toddler to finish cleaning up their toys before heading to bed.
If this is your first child, this is a good time to set a general night time routine besides just surviving. It’ll be constant communication of what worked the night before and what did not. However, it’s good to start thinking and talking about these things prior to the baby being born.
Third, decide what is best for you.
Here are some questions to consider:
- When are you ready for others to see your baby in person? (pandemic or not)
- Do you want to do a weekly update of your baby? (this is a cute way)
- Do you want to get newborn pictures professionally taken?
- What does your partner need to know in advance to prepare for the baby?
- What can you do ahead of time to not feel overwhelmed later when the baby comes?
Making intentional decisions for the first two weeks will also help you in the long run. When you have a good experience in the beginning, it will make you feel a little better despite the lack of sleep and trying to figure out and understand your little one.
5. Know where to turn for advice
Being a new parent can be overwhelming. It’s good to know where you can turn for advice.
A few places to start are online or in person.
Some online places you can check out include forums, social media groups, and bloggers who you trust.
Check out different ones and ask questions when you are curious. Many moms out there are full of knowledge and have different hacks that can help you with whatever you are facing at that moment.
It is also really helpful to have some support people you can turn to when you need it. Whether it is family members, friends, coworkers, or mom-friends you met at a class, these are the people you can go to for advice or help.
Remember that you are not alone.
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