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How to spend your maternity leave

Whether you have already started your maternity leave or it’s still in the horizon, you might be thinking about how you will spend that time. Here’s some advice from mums who’ve just been there.

I recently caught up with a few ladies who had survived their first year of becoming a mother to learn how they had spent their maternity leave and what they would recommend to mums-to-be.

For many women in the UK, maternity leave can span from a few months to a year. Many mums-to-be have ideas of what their maternity leave will be like but in fact the reality can be a shock to the system.

One mum mentioned that she’d had a romanticised view of maternity leave; she would be at home, in a cocoon breastfeeding for the first few weeks. That in fact was not too far from the truth for her because for the first month she was disconnected from the outside world. She had expected that she would have time to take care of a backlog of administrative tasks and do more sports. In fact, she found she had no desire for any of that because all her energy was spent on breastfeeding. She described the year as a roller-coaster year and much lonelier than she had expected.

She recommended getting administrative tasks sorted either before the baby’s birth or in the few months after the birth i.e. writing a will, doing your taxes, applying for the baby’s passport, setting up a savings account for the baby, taking out life insurance.

Another recommendation was to automate and streamline as much as possible whether that is online grocery shopping or buying nappies in bulk.

To tackle the loneliness, the ladies mentioned that they frequently met other mothers whom they’d met through antenatal groups like NCT. They found this useful both for the social interaction as well the advice exchanged when discussing their babies who were of the same age. Another commented that she made sure she did at least one thing a day, even if it was just to leave the house to go for a walk. However, one mum warned against doing too many activities. She found that she had signed up for too many baby classes and realised that getting out to them at a specific time was becoming stressful.

One mum said that keeping a clean and tidy house in the early days can be very difficult. So if it’s financially viable, hire a cleaner to come once a week for the first few weeks to help out.

Speaking of finances, one mum said she had prepared for her maternity leave by saving up in the months prior to giving birth.

The women all recommended to enjoy each stage. One mum said she wished she had put her baby on her chest more often rather than trying to get him to sleep in his own bed from early on.

I hope that’s been useful and I’d love to hear about your thoughts and/or experiences of maternity leave.


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