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5 smart questions to ask before taking maternity leave

Have you made a maternity leave checklist?

5 smart questions to ask before taking maternity leave
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You did it! You’re in the home stretch of your pregnancy and can finally imagine a time when your baby will be in your arms and out of your belly!


Before you head into total nesting mode (and hopefully a long maternity leave), there are a few key considerations to remember so that you can be confident both your job and your reputation will be safe in your absence:

1. Have I made a maternity leave checklist?

Before you even discuss time off with your supervisor, it might be helpful to chat with others who have taken leave to learn about their experiences and challenges. Use their advice to craft a checklist to guide your leave.

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Make sure your checklist contains the following:

-Documentation of all your work streams

-Careful identification of who will handle each aspect of your workload

-Knowledge transfer and training time to get replacements up to speed -

-Creation of any necessary documentation and materials for these projects

-Determination of when you will hand over the reigns

-Processes for communication and troubleshooting

-Relevant industry and trends research to keep up while on leave

-A careful plan of return

2. How involved will I be with work during my leave?

Make sure your supervisor, colleagues, and any external stakeholders are informed about your communication plan so that no surprises or confusion arise while you’re out.

Use your leave as an opportunity for direct reports and colleagues to grow in their roles with new challenges and responsibilities.

Create measurable goals so that your presence is felt while also implementing a supervision system for others to evaluate the performance of your team at regular intervals.

Promoting the professional development of others will produce mutually beneficial results upon your return.

Establish clear rules for communication, noting both expected outreach from you (e.g. check ins once per month) as well as boundaries for outreach from work (e.g. the who, how, when, and why).

3. When was my last performance review?

Prior to maternity leave is a great time to capture all of your recent accomplishments and make them known to your supervisor and team.

Try to get face time with any key players before your leave to express your commitment and focus.

You want everyone to remember your value even while you are out of the office.

This is your chance (armed with your handy maternity checklist) to demonstrate delegation, coordination, and mentoring skills as you portion out aspects of your role.

As noted above, devise metrics and goals for others to meet so that you can be a part of the progress during your leave and upon return.

Documenting these achievements can also be useful in case you encounter any discrimination during or after maternity leave.

4. Are my leave payments or vacation days in place?

There is often a lot of red tape to cut through to ensure your maternity leave payments are established, whether they are coming directly from your company, supplemented by a federal or state program, or some combination thereof.

Prior to starting your time off, meet with human resources to review your file and complete any missing forms.

This list of questions is helpful to prepare for your meeting and take action.

Get everything in writing and keep copies of all the forms so that you can be prepared for any disputes.

5. What is my plan for return?

In a perfect world, you would be rested and ready to return to work after your leave.

In reality, whether you want to go back to work or are dreading it, you will likely be exhausted and emotionally conflicted about leaving your baby.

No matter how long you are out, caring for a newborn can take a toll and you want to plan for a successful return in this new normal.

If possible, try to avoid starting on a Monday so that you don’t have a whole week ahead of you.

Even better would be to establish a graduated return that allows you to work part-time as you ramp back up.

Be sure to request flexible work options if none are in place already, as you could be the pioneer that shifts company policies.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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