The question of knowing when it’s time to stop working is a personal one for every mum-to-be. It will depend on factors such as your work environment, your role, your commute, your financial situation and of course, how your pregnancy is progressing. Some women work right up until they give birth, while others prefer to finish as early as possible.
Providing your workplace is safe (your employer must legally provide you a safe working environment for you and your baby) and you are feeling ok, there is no reason not to work the whole way through your pregnancy. That said however, most mums like to give themselves a few weeks break between finishing work and bringing the baby home. While we can’t always plan when exactly our babies are going to make their arrival, a little extra R&R (and time to finish off anything on your to-do list) is always a good idea.
In Australia, you are required to give your employer 10 weeks notice of your intended departure for maternity leave and you are entitled to 12 months unpaid maternity leave providing you have:
- Worked for your current employer for at least 12 months (before your due date)
- Given the required notice to your employer
- Will be the primary caregiver for your child
Your doctor can provide you a letter confirming your expected due date which you can then provide your employer. Your doctor can also provide a letter stating your required finish date if you need to finish earlier than expected due to medical reasons.
So then picking the exact date really comes down to personal circumstances, how long you plan to have off (remember that if you take a month off before you are due, and are entitled to 12 months leave you will be returning to work when baby is 11 months old.)
Tips for deciding when to finish working:
How is your pregnancy is progressing?
If you are feeling great and are still loving going to work, then there is no need to finish early but if there have been complications you may need to slow down and get some rest.
How are you sleeping?
If you’re not sleeping well (or not at all) then some extra R&R might be in order, you need all the rest you can get before going into labour and brining a newborn home.
Are you actually getting any work done?
Baby brain is real and as the birth looms closer so too do distracting thoughts – for better or worse, about all the things you have to do, thoughts about the birth and labour – and thinking about your precious little bundle. This paired with that aforementioned tiredness can leave you less productive than you might ordinarily be…
Are you in pain/uncomfortable?
The later the pregnancy gets the more uncomfortable you are going to be – sitting down, standing up, walking – all of it!
What is your commute like?
If you’re spending hours each day travelling back and forth from work this can leave you exhausted (without even factoring in the whole work thing!) so this is another thing you need to consider. Not to mention, travelling on public transport can leave you open to illness and infection from other people, which is not something you want to risk, especially with labour on the cards and your immune system being low.
Can you afford it?
Despite wanting to finish early, some mums-to-be find the impending financial strain of becoming a one income household means they need to work as long as possible to continue bringing in an income.