I’m doing a little bit of freaking out about all I have to do and plan before the baby comes. How long would you recommend taking off for maternity leave? I can’t afford to take any time off but since that isn’t possible, what are your thoughts on the least amount of time that is healthy. Also, how do clients handle you being off? How do I figure out breastfeeding ad it relates to being a working mom?
Here are some of my thoughts (just based on my own experiences) …
I recommend that you take off no shorter than 8 weeks for maternity leave AFTER the baby is born (not counting any time you may have to take off before the baby is born … ie bed rest). Ideally, I think 3 months is best. Also, try to make sure that you are TRULY off duty at work. After my second child I continued doing some of my work commitments, and I really regret how much extra stress that put on me at the time.
The first month after a baby your body is recovering and you are in a lovesick, sleep deprived daze. By the second month, things calm down a bit … and you can start to enjoy being a mom even more! REMEMBER … you can always borrow money or do with out some”thing”, but NOTHING can replace the first moments you have with your baby. Time goes SO fast in motherhood … and you can NEVER get those moments back.
As for how my clients handled it … (and some of them handled it TWICE!). The first step was preparing them for my leave. I made sure they knew how much time I planned to take off and approximately when I would be leaving . (This ended up needing to changed because both of my kids came early!) I also gave them the choice if they wanted to start seeing another therapist when I was gone (and choose who they would stay with when I returned) OR a contact person they could call if they needed therapy during my leave. (I did this verbally and in a letter). Most choose the latter. For the ones that did want to continue with another therapist, with the client’s permission, I invited the therapist into our 2nd to last appointment for a transfer session.
Then, about 2 weeks before I returned from leave, I called all my clients to schedule their appointments for my return. Most did return with no problems. Some did not return, but those probably would have been the same ones that would have phased out of therapy during that span of time anyway.
Taking the leave was a lot easier than I thought it would be!
As for breastfeeding, I found it to be WAY easier on me that when I returned I only did short days (like 4 hours). I did have one longer day and needed to pump between clients. Breastfeeding is another reason why it is much easier to go back to work after 3 months off … because by then the baby is needing to be feed less often and your body will also be used to going for a longer time without lactating. If you do end up breastfeeding and needing to pump at work, make sure you always bring an extra bra and shirt (in case of leaks or pump mishaps … I once split a bunch on me, and smelling like breast milk for the rest of the day isn’t very appealing!) I also found that with some very emotionally charged (crying or yelling) session I would “leak” more … just an FYI.
I hope this breakdown on how I tried balancing being a therapist & a new mom is helpful!
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Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.