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How To Make The Most Of Your Maternity Leave

How To Make The Most Of Your Maternity Leave

How To Make The Most Of Your Maternity Leave
When the time comes to go on maternity leave you might be having mixed feelings. Anxiety can kick in regarding your looming due date and all of the uncertainty and fear connected to that.
 
It can also be a bittersweet feeling to be waving goodbye to work for a long period of time. Many of us struggle with a major change in routine and believe it or not a lot of people really enjoy the work they do.
 
Disconnecting from work can feel a bit like losing part of your identity and it’s more than OK to admit that. Regardless of how you’re feeling this is something that has to happen. You’ve come this far and it’s time to go and have your baby.
 
Whether you’re wiping tears from your eyes or jumping for joy as you leave work, maternity leave is a huge deal and setting that “out of office” reply feels incredibly surreal.
 
 
Everyone has a different experience when it comes to maternity leave. Some women are paid by their employer while they are off work. It may be a top up in conjunction with the state maternity pay or it may be instead of that payment. Others receive nothing as it is not an obligation for an employer to do so.
 
The same can be said for a woman’s plans to return to work after maternity leave. Contractual obligations may dictate the decision while for others it may be a financial or emotional reason that makes the call.
 
The most important thing, regardless of what comes after, is to make the most of your maternity leave. Those first six months of your baby’s life are incredibly special. They will come with challenges and uncertainties but pay dividends in how they reward you.
 
Remember how quickly your pregnancy flew by? Many women say the first six to twelve months of their baby’s life go even faster if you can imagine that. Soak it up, live in the moment and really make the most of your maternity leave with the following tips in mind.
 
 
There is a fine line between not enough plans and too many plans. While it’s good to have lots of days out and about meeting up with friends and family it is equally important to just enjoy time with your baby. They will change daily before your very eyes so soak it up and enjoy as much quality time as you can getting to know them.
 
Consider booking a holiday or a couple of days away together. It is a lovely way to begin life as a new family. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to take our son to a warm country when he was just five months old. At that age, babies are so easily pleased and low maintenance. Once he had milk, cuddles and the appropriate clothing he was really content and slept a tonne.
 
You have your whole life to set and achieve health and fitness goals. While healthy eating and being active can positively affect your well-being they can also put a huge amount of pressure on new mums. One of my favourite things about maternity leave was coffee and cake. This is a once-off and you have just given birth so don’t be too hard on yourself.
 
Research mum/baby groups and activities in your area and consider some that you might like to avail of. Baby massage, sensory classes and baby cinema mornings can be a great way to meet other new mums and build up a new set of friends who can relate to what you are going through.
 
Forget work. Agreeing to “keep an eye” on work emails or asking about the office is going to add a layer of stress and anxiety you do not need. You are on maternity leave – leave being the operative word.
 
 
Take the help that is offered if and when you need it. Your family and friends genuinely want to help and an hour of their time could afford you the opportunity to enjoy a longer shower, a nice bit of food or just some much-needed company.
 
Trust your mama instincts and do what feels right for you when it comes to your decisions. When it comes to issues of feeding and sleep opinions will be thrown at you by everyone from your sister to the man delivering your pizza. Take it with a pinch of salt and just do what feels right for you and your baby.
 
Try, if at all possible, to stay in the moment and not think too far ahead. You’ll be missing the present and the present really is a gift at this time.
 
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.