How to Determine if you can Afford an Extended Maternity Leave

For many new moms, it’s hard to know just how much maternity leave to take. Even though the law gives you 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, some new moms simply cannot afford to go that long without a regular paycheck. On the other hand, for new moms who may want to take extended maternity leave, whether they do or not is often determined by affordability.

If you want to know whether you can take extended maternity leave or not, take your time sorting through the choices. Here’s how:

Get out your employee handbook and read through the policies pertaining to maternity leave, especially in regard to pay. Some employers are more “family friendly” than others, and it’s always a wise choice to find out where you stand with your employer’s policies, before making any long-term decisions.

Talk to other moms at your company and ask them about their maternity leave experience.

Once you have a clearer picture of the employment policy and the emotional side of things, it’s time to crunch the numbers. If you are taking paid maternity leave, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. If you are smart, and stash enough cash to sustain you and your family during your pregnancy, extended maternity leave shouldn’t be a problem.

Weigh the ever-rising costs of childcare against your paycheck. For infants, childcare can be incredibly expensive, and make taking extended maternity leave a viable financial option.

Another option would be asking your employer if you can work part-time during your maternity leave or even inquire about the ability to telecommute. Even though the possibility of asking for changes can be intimidating, you never know if it’s possible unless you ask.

Extra tips:

Most new moms require a full six weeks to recover from the physical effects of giving birth. Some new mothers will require another two or three months before they are able to get back on a regular sleep cycle. And still other mothers suffer from postpartum depression that makes returning to work even more difficult. Remember, every mother is different. Listen to your body and watch for signs. You will know when you are ready to go back to work.  

It’s also important to know your rights. It is completely illegal for employers to terminate a women because she is pregnant or because she takes maternity leave.

If you suspect that you are a victim of pregnancy discrimination, consult an attorney or the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.