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The 3 Most Important Things to Do Before Maternity Leave

It's your job, and it's your maternity leave. Protect your ownership of and access to both by communicating clear boundaries to your boss and co-workers.

Have a Plan

Plan ahead. At some point, you will have to announce your pregnancy to your boss and co-workers; if you don't, they will figure it out as you grow bigger. Once they know you are pregnant, they will wonder if and when you will take time off, how long you will be gone, and if you will want to come back. Your best bet to stifle rumors and speculation is to have a maternity leave plan ready when you make the happy announcement.

That means you need to make your plan as soon as you know you are pregnant. When you announce your pregnancy at work, be able to answer the following questions:

1. How many weeks will you take?

2. Approximately when do you expect to begin maternity leave?

3. Will you wait until the baby is born, or take a little time at the end of your pregnancy?

4. Will you pump breast milk? This is important because if you plan to pump, you should discuss with your employer reasonable accommodation. If you don't have a private office, request an appropriate place, and tell your boss how often you expect to pump and how long it will take. (If you are a first-time mother, discuss this with a nurse before you talk to your boss.)

Communicate Clear Boundaries

Do you want to enjoy six weeks of maternal bliss? Or are you agreeable to being called, emailed, or contacted via text messages while you are on maternity leave? Only you can answer those questions, but it is your responsibility to communicate your boundaries to your co-workers and also to your boss.

You may wish to have a private chat with your boss about how available you will be during maternity leave. Your boss may be nervous about you being gone for so long, but you may be looking forward to the break. An informal, private meeting with your boss gives you both the opportunity to discuss the situation and, if necessary, reach a compromise you both can live with.

Leave Reminders That You Will Be Returning

Over at CBS Moneywatch they recommend leaving personal trinkets and photographs in your cubicle. Clean and tidy any area that will be used by somebody else, such as your work computer, but leave personal signs that you will be returning. Whether you have a desk, cubicle, office, or none of the above, incorporate this advice in your workspace. If you have a locker, leave a work coat or work shoes in the locker. If you have a personal coffee mug, leave it at work. This helps to quell any speculation that you may decide not to return to work, and in that way protects your job.

Tell Us What You Think

What is your experience with maternity leave? Leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter.

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(Photo Credit: nemuneko.jc/Flickr)

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