Monday 13 April 2015

PREGNANCY: What's the start of maternity leave really like?

Maternity leave. 

The time off women (and soon to be men) get to look after, bring up and care for their children. Invalulable bonding time without a doubt. But what's it like at the beginning of maternity leave? The time when your child hasn't been born yet, your starting to get seriously uncomfortable in later pregnancy and impatient to meet your little baby. 

When it came to three weeks before I started maternity leave I was so excited, kindly reminding everyone at work that I only had 3 Monday's left at work and all of my plans for the start of maternity leave. I wasn't lying, I was excited. We had a big long list of things we need to get sorted ready for our baby's arrival and I was really looking forward to ticking many of them off. The three weeks couldn't pass quick enough. That was until the three weeks became three days and it suddenly dawned on me that I was leaving work for potentially a whole year. I wouldn't be able to chat with all of my lovely collegues everyday, instead I'd start maternity leave alone throughout the working week. I'm not someone who minds being on their own too much, but the prospect of up to 5 weeks (I went on maternity leave at 37 weeks pregnant) on my own the majority of the week left me with mixed emotions. I wanted to have the attitude of 'making the most of it', after all I won't ever have that time again in my life. But I couldn't help feeling overwhelmed with the length of time I would be on my own, doing what would usually be considered as mundane housework jobs. Now I'm not talking about once our daughter has arrived here at all, this is completely focused on those weeks before giving birth. 

Maternity leave started and I was trying really hard to have a positive 'make the most of it' attitude. I made a really long to-do list, plenty to keep me busy and I was genienly excited to sort all of her cute clothes out. When my husband left for work on the Monday I made a plan for what I wanted to achieve during the day, I'm not someone who can just sit around all day not doing much. I really like to feel like I've completed something each and every day - making the most of life. The first day consisted of a lot of washing, tumble drying, folding, thinking about how cute our daughter will look in a lot of the clothes, watching daytime tv and making a tasty lunch (no more paked lunches - yay!) 

The rest of the week looked similar to my first day, with the odd delivery and trip to our village shop thrown in for good measure. Nearing the end of the week I was finding it hard to stay positive, my own company was getting boring, lonely and my drive to tick things off my to-do list was twindling quickly. Luckily, on the Friday I had organised to meet up with some of the ladies from the NCT group we went to. We attended a Bumps and Babies group at a local soft play centre, it was so refreshing to get out of the house, talk to people and have a change of scenery. 

That first week of maternity leave taught me a lot about myself and I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot more as I am a Mummy and maternity leave isn't one spent all by myself. If you have been feeling anything like I was then my biggest piece of advice is to get out there and join groups/classes etc. There are a number of classes you can join before your baby is born, which are perfect for getting out of the house and making connections with other women. The majority of women on maternity leave are in the same boat, they have suddenly become responsible for this little human being, who doesn't come with an instruction manual. Having a support network of other women who are maternity leave too has been invaluable for me. It's meant that I have people to talk to, ask advice, share exciting news, share in their exciting news and deliveries! 

The above experience of the first weeks of maternity leave is mine and will obviously not be the same for everyone.

How does maternity leave change when your baby arrives?

Feel free to leave me a comment or any advice :)

Helen x


  1. My maternity leave starts in just under three weeks and I can't wait. I'm going off four weeks before my due date and I know I'll be alone for a lot of it. I was worried I'd be bored but I'm so tired already I know I'll need it. The plan is to get loads of writing done and binge on loads of TV shows I missed the first time round. Although if the sun's out I imagine I'll want to be on the beach!

  2. I loved maternity leave before Aria arrived (and love it even more now that she is here!) I finished at 37 weeks and went 4 days over, I binge watched Pretty Little Liars on Netflix (which is where her name came from!) had a Midwife appointment every Wednesday so would also pop into the local Wetherspoons for lunch while I was in town. It was lovely!

    Leanne - A Slice of My Life Wales


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