Friday, November 15, 2013

Becoming a Mom can be life changing.  And especially when you don't know what to expect and how to manage a baby in your home. 
SuperMomTested had the opportunity to poll from our wonderful community of moms on our SuperMomTested Facebook (SMT Question of the Day)on this very subject.  
We were very pleased to see the kind of responses to our question,  A huge Thank You to those who did. 
I took the collection of viable responses and compiled them into a five point outline.
With the green light from our friends at 
Read what other professionals and experienced people have to say.                
From Bump to Birth: 10 Tips for Maternity Leave 

While our biggest focus at Credit Cardr Insider is providing information about the responsible use of credit and credit cards, we're always looking for ways to help people manage their finances in all areas of life, and especially at different major life stages. For this post, we asked for maternity leave advice from experienced moms in the workforce and discovered ten key themes.
1. Communicate with your employer
2. Be professional
3. Prepare – physically, emotionally, financially
4. Pre-plan a few meals
5. Cherish and maximize your time with baby
6. Give yourself a break
7. Accept help
8. Learn to be the baby's mom
9. Include dad in the plan
10. Pace your transition back to work
If you notice overlap in the themes, such as a consistent message to take as much time off as you can, pay attention.

Communicate with your employer

No one will plan your maternity leave for you. It's up to you to research any benefits and how to get them. Don't be afraid to take full advantage of any maternity leave benefits available to you. If your maternity leave is unpaid, you could be eligible for paid family leave benefits from the state. Call your state's unemployment/disability office for more information.
"Review your employee handbook closely and speak with your human resources team to determine what paid leave is available to you and when. Every company handles paid maternity leave differently and it's good to be informed upfront on what you can expect after you're expecting." Jennifer Owens, Editorial Director, Working Mother
"Make sure you communicate with your employer."  Carrie E. Carroll, Founder & Twin Mom, The Twin Source
"Check into your company's maternity benefits and maximize everything you can use. Benefits vary, and it will be important to fully understand what is available from your current job. If it's there, use it." Jackson Dunn, Director, Marriage and Family Foundation, Focus On The Family

Be professional

Even if you're afraid your job won't wait for you, train the person who will cover your leave well. If you don't, your reputation will suffer when your coworkers discover that you held on to certain key information. However, if you make smooth operation in your absence a top priority, your employer and coworkers will respect you and become part of your permanent professional network. The value of good relations is immeasurable over the span of your working career. And readying others to take over in your absence opens up the door to promotions and new responsibilities upon your return.
"Make sure you work with your boss on a coverage and cross training plan. Unless your boss says they have it taken care of, you need to take responsibility to ensure all bases are covered. How you leave is as important as the work you do while you're there.
Offer to let coworkers call you to ask questions, because no matter how well you document and cross train, the questions don't crop up until someone is actually doing your work – and there will be questions." Dorothy Tannahill Moran, Leadership & Career Change Agent, Next Chapter New Life
Maternity leave

Prepare – physically, emotionally, financially

Realize that everything is about to change – your body, your feelings, your schedule, your budget. Plan as well as you can. Be kind to your body. Producing a little human is no small job. Play with the idea that you might want to take an extended absence from work. Your career will always be there, but your child wants and needs your time and attention now. So think now – before the baby comes – about money. Don't chant the "everything will work out" mantra. To get what you want, a solid financial plan will be a thousand times more effective than a wish and a prayer.
"Have the planning conversations with your partner way ahead of time and find a plan you both feel great about, which we call a win/win. It's easy to procrastinate, or think that you'll just "cross that bridge when it comes." However, it's never too early to think through, discuss and plan. One important decision revolves around how you're going to handle your future work situation. Will you go back to work? If so, when and will it be full time or part-time. If not, what do you need to adjust about your current budget and spending habits since there will be a loss of income? It's so important to make these adjustments in advance and get in the habit ahead of time. It takes a while to form good habits, and the sooner you have them, the lesser the blow of a loss of income." Jackson Dunn, Director, Marriage and Family Foundation, Focus On The Family
"Prepare, prepare, prepare. You wouldn't do a triathlon or even a 5k without some preparation. Birthing is a very long physical activity. Preparation means [learning] what is about to happen, exercising, good nutrition, and rest." Beeyoutiful
"[Don't] rush to return to work. Your recovery and your family depend on you being healthy and happy. Plan ahead to be able to stay home for as long as you need. Put money aside to meet expenses in case you need more time than your maternity leave allows. Stock up on diapers and other supplies before baby arrives while you're still working to ease the financial burden and to [stay ahead of the] shopping for a few weeks."  Tyra Baird, Preparedness Mama
"Get any big projects/must-dos done before baby arrives  – e.g., if baby is set to arrive February through April, do your taxes before baby arrives, or pay someone to do them after baby arrives."Crystal O’Neill, Fleishman Hillard
"Have a budget planned in advance. If needed, downsize your house and move to a cheaper location. Trade in your car for a used vehicle." Lisa Giesler, A Time And Place 4
1. "Create a budget. Know what is coming in, what may be going out and what you can set aside for unexpected events.
2. Keep track of spending.
3. Be aware of ways your family can save. Measure the needs over the wants.
4. Practice living on one paycheck. This will lessen the shock of losing the extra income.
5. Communicate with your spouse. Discuss goals and desires and work together. This is a miraculous time and worth the sacrifice together."                                                          Dennissa Ramirez & Stephanie Goodman,
"Forecast your family budget with the added expenses typical of a new baby (diapers, formula, babysitting/daycare, clothing, etc.). Stock up on essentials now to ease into your new budget. Start saving! You never know what might happen. Have a back up fund to meet medical expenses or to allow you more time before going back to work."Tyra Baird, Preparedness Mama
"In regards to your new budget/spending plan, don't just focus on the actual costs of the birth, hospital time, and initial doctor's appointments. Think about the diapers, future doctor visits, formula if you need it, and all of the equipment needed for your little one. There always seems to be little costs popping up everywhere, and it's better to expect them than to be surprised." Jackson Dunn, Director, Marriage and Family Foundation, Focus On The Family
And if you're self-employed, you'll have to take extra steps to figure out how to take time off from running your business to enjoy being a new mom.
"Baby 1 was well planned for. I just didn't know how to leave my own business. Never once was the concept of maternity leave addressed while in school. I did not know how to save enough nor cover my patient load.
For baby 2, I planned WAY ahead. I saved enough for three months' leave – this has to cover bills, but no profits, coming in when you own your own business. I scheduled patients around this time and was very clear that I would be unavailable. I told them how they could get care they needed while I was out. This time I recovered much faster, the stress level was down immensely and I cherished my time at home."  Dr. Gina Sirchio, Chiropractic Physician (DABCI), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, LGI Health

Pre-plan a few meals

You'll hear from practically every new parent that once the baby is born, your day will revolve around meeting baby's needs and not much else. You'll be tired, possibly overwhelmed, and very short on time to handle previously mundane tasks like shopping and cooking. The most organized new parents think ahead to prepare meals (or at least key ingredients, like meat) that can later be heated, requiring no preparation whatsoever.
"Take a few Saturdays/Sundays before baby arrives to prepare frozen meals. It’s amazing how hard it can be even to get simple dinners in the oven." Crystal O’Neill, Fleishman Hillard
"Pre-cook a lot of protein for make-ahead meals. I cooked 20 lbs each of chicken and ground beef. It helped me stay busy while I was in the nesting phase. Having protein bought and paid for also helped the grocery bill tremendously when going from two incomes to one. There was nothing more relieving than to be able to pull out a pound of taco meet and have dinner on the table in ten minutes with a newborn."  Brandy Yearous, Super Mom, The Supermom Workout

Cherish and maximize your time with baby

Studies show that most new moms don't want to return to full time work after the birth of a baby. Even if you love your job or you don't think you can live without the income, consider the possibility that you'll fall into that category and plan for it as well as you can. Maximize your time off. Once you go back to work, find out if you can work from home or ease back part-time. While you're off, enjoy the time with your new child.
"Be present during the brief period of time while you are home with your little one. The first few weeks are a special time. The rest of it (work) can wait for you to get back!" Jen and Julia, Proud Working Mom
"Take the time, all the time you are allotted. You may feel very stressed about leaving work behind but it will be okay and things will work out." Carrie E. Carroll, Founder & Twin Mom, The Twin Source
"Don't rush back to work. Cherish these days with your baby. Make a strong connection. Hold your baby a lot. Nap when baby naps, with baby if you can. Skin on skin is good, to develop a strong bond, and for baby's development." Beeyoutiful
"Enjoy where you are. Learn to be content. You can find something bad in anything, but you can find something good as well. Seize upon the good. The worst thing that can happen is that you move from discontentment to discontentment through the last weeks at work while you are very pregnant, the last days of pregnancy, the birth process, the recovery period, and finally, the days or weeks that you get to spend with your newborn before heading back to work. You can choose to make them good." Beeyoutiful
"Of course, do your best to set things up so that are smooth as possible during your leave, but once the baby arrives let your mind focus on parenting and healing your body." Carrie E. Carroll, Founder & Twin Mom, The Twin Source

Give yourself a break

Don't expect to be a "natural" or to take it all in stride, no matter how much experience you have with other peoples' children. It's easy to become overwhelmed, and when it's just mom, dad and baby, the answers don't always present themselves clearly. In days gone by, extended families lived together and there were older generations around to teach new moms what to do. These days, you might not have that advantage. So cut yourself some slack for any doubts, lack of confidence or unrealistic expectations you may have.
"We see other moms making different choices and they seem to have it all together so we assume our choices are wrong. Don't compare yourselves to others and find yourself lacking. Make choices based on your budget, time constraints and abilities. You are doing what works for you be it cloth or disposable diapers, formula or nursing. Don't stress yourself out. Enjoy your little one."Tezra Williams, Super Mom, Supermom By Day
"Remember that your body has been through a lot, your whole world has flipped upside down and nothing including yourself will ever be the same. You're a MOM now! What you valued before will be different, what you could wear and how you look have "matured," and you have a new set of responsibilities and worries. Everything you are feeling is NORMAL! Take it slow." Tyra Baird, Preparedness Mama
"Don’t 'plan' to accomplish anything – To-do lists are killer to enjoying your maternity leave and your new baby. I thought I was being realistic by only setting four to-dos for myself on top of daily activities and while some of them got done, having them hanging over my head stressed me out." Crystal O’Neill, Fleishman Hillard

Accept help

When friends and family offer to help, let them. It may seem like a big imposition to ask your mother-in-law or surfing buddy to do your shopping, but if the offer is made, accept it gratefully. Running errands, cooking meals, cleaning the house, and walking a fussy baby are all great tasks to assign to caring people in your inner circle during the first few weeks of your little one's life. Outside the home, get connected with a lactation support group nearby so that you'll know where to go if any challenges arise.
"Let people help you! When they ask if there is anything you need, say "yes!" Have them cook for you, clean for you, sit with the baby for an hour so you can nap. Take advantage of those offers for help!" Hope, Slow Cooker Adventures
"Have family/friends come help (especially those with kids). We live away from our families so the grandparents and aunts rotated visits. We were SO grateful that the timing worked out that my sister-in-law with four kids was able to be there for a few days at the time I was released from the hospital. An experienced but young mom who’s happy to jump in and provide guidance is SO amazingly helpful because she knows exactly what the new parents need/fear and can more easily identify issues/assuage concerns. A lot of friends also wanted to visit and meet the new baby, so they signed up to bring us dinners and free up our hands for a little bit.
Join a new moms support group – preferably one that’s led by a post-partum and infant medical expert, but even just a group of new mommies getting together. Some days, this is what kept my sanity – just to be able to get out of the house and interact with adults who understood what I was going through and who could share tips and advice." Crystal O’Neill, Fleishman Hillard

Learn to be the baby's mom

You might slip into your new role with ease… and you might not. Give yourself time to get used to the new routine. Relax and stay in the moment.
"Babies take A LOT of time, especially newborns . Between feeding every two hours, changing, soothing, bathing, tummy time – you finish just in time to start over. Getting a meal in for mom is an accomplishment! Set your mentality for this reality and plan to just spend a lot of time holding your new little.” Crystal O’Neill, Fleishman Hillard
"Healing and change take time, allow yourself to embrace this new role and all that goes with it at your own pace not someone else's. Rushing things can lead to depression, and other issues. Remember, postpartum is a roller coaster, but eventually the ride comes to an end." Tyra Baird, Preparedness Mama

Planning maternity leaveInclude dad in the plan

You're in this together. Encourage dad to be an active participant and to bond with baby. Like mom, dad should be unafraid to take the maximum amount of family leave available. Some men feel awkward around the baby, not knowing what to do or how they can help. Comfort will only come with practice. Also, men tend to feel much less free to take extended absences from work, and far more pressure to put the hours in. Each new dad has to set his own priorities, but more and more men are choosing to put family at the top of the list.
"When my first son was born, nearly ten years ago, I was lucky to have an employer who provided great maternity coverage. The second time around, I was a self-employed work-from-home mom so I was stressed about the idea of taking paid time off from work. Luckily, my husband took advantage of the Paid Family Leave option we have in California, allowing him to take time off to not only bond with the baby, but to help me and provide me the opportunity to get some work done during that time.
It's up to each family to determine how much time off is best and how to work that out, but I would highly recommend you both take time off if you can during those first few weeks. It helped us bond as family as well as handle the transition of a new baby (and dealing with those sleepless nights) together." Sondra Drahos, Certified Parent Educator, Happy Healthy Hip
"My advice to new mothers is to make sure their partners have maternity leave, too." Dara Herman Zierlein, Supermom Unveiled
"Put plans in place to keep your [relationship] strong. This new little one is obviously going to change the dynamic in your home, but it will especially change the dynamic of your relationship. It's very easy to neglect your relationship in the midst of surviving and caring for your baby. Plan for little things like in-home date nights when you get an hour or two to connect. And, don't wait a year to have a date night outside of the house. It's so important that you intentionally approach your relationship with the goal of keeping it strong. The best thing you can give to your child is a healthy, thriving relationship." Jackson Dunn, Director, Marriage and Family Foundation, Focus On The Family

Pace your transition back to work

Whether you must return to work or just want to, pace the transition. Spend the first two weeks in the daycare setting with your baby, to show that it is a safe, comfortable place that the baby can still associate with mom.  If possible, go back to work part-time and ease into your full-time schedule over time.
"Do a transition week with daycare when getting ready to go back to work. It will help mama and baby adjust and reveal any transitional difficulties so it’s not all a shock that first week back."Crystal O’Neill, Fleishman Hillard
"As you come to the end of your maternity leave, start mentally preparing yourself for the transition back to work, perhaps visiting the office with the baby or if possible during your last week over lap your new child care for a few days (or hours each day).  Carrie E. Carroll, Founder & Twin Mom, The Twin Source
And don't underestimate the amount of time you'll want to take off.
"New moms being sent back to work after six weeks is nothing short of abusive in my book. Countries that give moms a year leave are the only ones thinking." Dr. Gina Sirchio, Chiropractic Physician (DABCI), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, LGI Health
                  And lastly, I found a free download for New Moms Here.


  1. Thanks for the shout out! Delighted to be included as a resource! Cheers to the working mamas...we need all the help and resources we can get!

  2. Thanks for sharing these useful tips! That's a pity I haven't read your post earlier. I often repeat to myself: "Be the parent today that you want your kids to remember tomorrow". I don't know who said this, but now this quote is my aim. Being a parent is a very responsible but at the same time such a rewarding job! Agatha Singer has got a great article about parenting. You may read it here. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.