In 1/3 of all U.S. households, women are the breadwinners. In many cases, women out earn their partners by a considerable amount. While this is nothing new for the women who do this, when having a baby comes into play, new considerations and dilemmas arise. The following are 7 things you NEED to know before planning and taking your maternity leave:
1) Understand the ins and outs of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Whether you are an entrepreneur with employees or an employee working in corporate, it is critical that you understand the stipulations of the Family and Medical Leave Act. For example, FMLA applies only to companies who have a minimum of 50 employees and to employees who work full time and have done so for a minimum of a year. In this, an employee has to have worked more than 1,250 hours over the past year to qualify for FMLA. In addition, if an employee and her partner work for the same company, they don't each get 12 weeks of unpaid family leave. They get a combined 12 weeks and will need to plan accordingly.
Keep in mind that the 12 weeks is unpaid, requires giving written notice at least 30 days in advance of taking the leave, can be used by mothers or fathers, but involves no pay. While a company is required to keep your medical coverage during this time, a company does not have to pay for your coverage. You may have to pay out of pocket. To help compensate for losing 12 weeks of pay, you may be able to get short term disability insurance that would cover some of that lost income but not all. You can also take the 12 weeks of unpaid leave in chunks and work part time throughout your leave. Once you have your baby, you must add the baby to your health insurance within 30 days of birth to ensure that your health insurance covers the labor and delivery costs. In addition to this, your company may have you go through procedures and processes specific to that company when taking a maternity leave. As the woman breadwinner, you'll need to have a plan for a) when you'll notify your employer that you're pregnant, b) when you'll take maternity leave, c) what will happen to your position while you're out, d) when you plan to return. You'll also need to consider how you'll make up for the salary lost during those 12 weeks.
2) Unexpected financial expenses must be planned for in advance.
When having a baby, many plan for traditional expenses such as diapers, wipes, cute baby clothes, cribs and bedding. But what financial plan do you have in place for the unexpected expenses such as: a doula, unanticipated doctor visits and pharmacy expenses, breast pump, part time nanny and/or babysitter, remodeling and/or moving costs when moving to a larger home, babyproofing expenses for the home, a new wardrobe for the temporary post-
3) You may change your mind about your return-
Many women who vow to return to work a few months after having a baby change their minds. As the breadwinner, this is a heavier and harder decision to make. Be sure that you consider this BEFORE you take maternity leave. If you decided that you didn't want to return to work after having your baby, what other options do you have for creating financial stability? Who would provide? Are you even in a position, if you wanted to, to stay at home with your baby? If not, how will you deal with the grief that comes from having to leave your baby in the care of others while you go back to work? All of these are questions you must answer before going on maternity leave.
4) Bed rest could happen during the pregnancy.
Most women don't consider this until it actually happens but a wiser route would be to scenario plan this situation. If, for some reason, in the middle of your pregnancy, your doctor put you on bed rest (either moderate where you could work from home or complete bed rest where you could not work and had to reduce all stress levels), what would you do? How would you outsource and/or delegate responsibilities?
5) The transition to new motherhood (especially if this is baby #1) takes YEARS, not months.
Many new moms expect their lives after baby to be similar to their lives before baby. Having a child is a major life transition. There will be sleepless nights, less time for a social life or going to the gym, having to call in to work because the baby has a fever, operating at a slower pace or taking longer to get things done because you're breastfeeding every two hours and are absolutely exhausted, and the list goes on. Be sure that you have a realistic preview of what the next 2-
6) Know who's in your new baby inner circle.
Once you have a baby, your inner circle of friends, supporters, and mentors may change. It's important to begin looking for those individuals who know what you're going through, have been there, and can be supportive post-
7) Returning to work (no matter how much you love your job and how much of a stay-
Overall, understand that you have the power to create your motherhood experience in any way you choose but it does take planning. You are the breadwinner but, upon having a baby, you might not want to be so be sure you have the proper planning in place to ensure that you have a number of options for motherhood well before you have to choose which one to use. ...