So you found out you’re pregnant? Congrats! Now it’s time to start planning how the next 9 months are going to look. Trust me, you don’t want to just “go with the flow” for this one.
As the next few months go by you will realize just how hard it is to work and be pregnant. Now times that by 10, and you’ll find out how hard it is to work and have a newborn. If your lucky enough to be in a work place that is supportive of your new role as Mommy and provides an adequate amount of maternity leave, DO NOT take it for granted!
Maternity leave is the break you need and the break you deserve! You may feel the need to work until the baby is literally falling out of you, BUT I highly recommend against it. Taking as little as a week or as much as a month before your actual due date can be so beneficial to you, your relationship, and your future child. Here’s 5 reasons why…
1. Making Your Home Baby Friendly
You may have bought everything you needed or had family and friends contribute to what inevitably turned into a giant pile in the nursery. That pile isn’t very useful if it’s still a pile at 3AM when your changing a crying newborn’s diaper. Taking leave early gives you time to organize and sort through that pile. Some things that may need to be done with this pile before the little one arrives:
- Organizing different diaper sizes. You’ll only be using Newborn or Size Ones for the first month or two. The rest can be stored away for later use.
- Cutting tags off of clothes and washing them. This takes longer than you would expect. If you read the tag on these tiny clothes carefully they always recommend washing first before putting them on precious baby’s skin.
- Disinfecting and deep cleaning your home. Sterilizing new bottles and pacifiers can save a lot of time when the little one starts going through bottle after bottle in the first few days. In addition to this a deep cleaning and disinfecting of your home in general can be helpful.
- Making sure the pile has everything you need. While sorting make sure to check off all the items you have and what you may still need to run out and get before the big day.
2. Making Time for Your Girls
Although your friends may be super supportive of you starting your family, many times single or childless friends can feel that they are getting pushed out of your life by this new little human. Use your time off to make brunch dates and enjoy some time with your girls. You may not be able to drink, but you can still enjoy a good laugh! In addition to spending some quality time together, you can also have them help you with things that need to get done around the house or run errands with you. Kill two birds with one stone!
3. Spending Time with Your Spouse
This is the last time it will be just you two. Soon a third life will make its way into the picture and change things forever (whether its changed in big ways or small ways is up to you). Partners are often the most affected by a new baby, as much as we’d like to think it is ourselves who are affected most, and it can be a difficult transition for them.
We spend 9 months growing a life inside of us and starting our relationship with our little one, but partners don’t get this same connection. Often times partners don’t start feeling the real transition until they get to hold their newborn for the first time. That means before little one arrives they are still focused on the two of you as a unit. This is the perfect time to capitalize on that!
Spend some time together as a couple and do something that you did when you first started dating or something new that you’ve wanted to try (Couples massage anyone??)! Really tune in to your partner and discuss your hopes and fears of the future quickly approaching. Establish some ways now you can stay connected when the baby arrives and promise to check in with one another as this new journey begins.
4. Refocusing on Yourself
You have probably spent a lot of time focusing on the baby, family, friends, your home, and other things in the past few months. Utilize your maternity leave to take some time for yourself to relax and refocus on your needs. This is the one time you’ll have a vacation strictly for yourself.
Whether you are at home most of the day or decide to head out to your favorite park or beach, do something by yourself. Take some deep breaths, write a journal entry, or just think about ways you can be aware of your very being. Imagine where you were a year ago and how far you’ve come. The feelings that overwhelmed you at the beginning of your pregnancy and how you’ve managed to make it this far. Think of the values you want to hold close as you move forward and what activities or hobbies you want to keep up with as a mom.
You can take one day to do this or spend a little time each day centering yourself and preparing yourself for the next stage in your life. Whichever route you take, make sure you are staying true to who you are and who you want to be.
5. Mental Preparation for the Biggest Gift of Your Life
You can plan and prep for everything that seems important when it comes to bringing home a new baby, but nothing can truly mentally prepare you for the shift that will take place when that creature growing inside of you (or inside someone else) becomes a human that needs your care, love, and support for the rest of your life. Taking that extra time to seek out a therapist and explore some of the fears, anxieties, joys, and other million emotions that you’ve been feeling is one of the best ways to use your time off. Getting appointments scheduled when you have plenty of time on your hands and building a relationship with a therapist that cares will make it a lot easier to continue seeking this type of support after the baby arrives.
Building rapport is the first step with any good therapist and knowing that you have someone to turn to who gives an unbiased ear will be a tremendous stress relief in those weeks and months after delivery. Maternity leave isn’t all about getting a break from work. At it’s core, it’s really all about taking care of yourself in a very delicate time of your life. Whether pregnant, using a surrogate, or adopting maternity leave is a time to become in tune with yourself and the life you are bringing into the world.