Getting Ready for Maternity Leave
Review Your Health Insurance
Take some time to read through your health insurance and its pregnancy, labor, and delivery coverage. If you can't find the answers to these questions on your own, call to talk with an insurance representative:
- What's your deductible, if any?
- Which doctors and specialists need to be in-network for the best coverage?
- How much of your pregnancy care is covered?
- Do you need add-on coverage? Is it available through your current insurance company?
- Which parts of labor and delivery are covered?
You might be shocked to learn that, although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1987 mandates that employer-provided insurance policies cover maternity care, businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from this mandate.
If you're taking leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, your employer is required to maintain your group health insurance coverage, including your family's coverage, throughout your leave. (You'll still have to pay any premium co-pays during this period, even if you're not getting paid.)
Plan Now for How to Limit Your Availability
In our tech-savvy society, many people feel they are never really "off the grid." As a new mom, you might feel obligated to respond to "urgent" requests from the office for help.
To avoid feeling harried during your leave, take time to plan before you go. A few weeks ahead of your planned departure date:
- Delegate your responsibilities to co-workers for the time you're away. Prepare detailed notes that will guide them through the responsibilities they'll be covering.
- Have a "just in case" plan if complications arise that may require a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay, bed rest, or serious postpartum complications that could leave you in the hospital for 10 days instead of two.
- Share your plan and notes with your boss to get approval.
- Set up an "auto reply" message on your work email account and phone, directing people to your teammates who are taking on your tasks in your absence.
If you're planning to go back to work, strategize how to make your return easy without giving up anything from your leave time.
- For the first couple of weeks, stay out of contact with your workplace (except for calls of congratulations or calls to thank them for flowers or balloon bouquets). No matter how you deliver your baby, you'll be exhausted. Even if you want to contribute to your workplace, you probably won't be in any shape to do so.
- After those first couple of weeks, check in with work periodically to see how things are going and to make sure you're up to speed when you return.
The more planning you do in advance, the more you'll be able to enjoy those precious early days with your baby!