Maternity Leave Projects (or, Productivity While Nursing)

Productive Things to Do While Breastfeeding | CorporetteI’m curious — did anyone use maternity leave to learn stuff, or otherwise better yourself? A lot of readers noted that new mom friends were critical for their maternity leave, but I’m sure there are just as many people who, like me, just watched way too much television or played on social media in those moments when I wasn’t connecting with my baby. With my first maternity leave, it was Property Brothers on HGTV. Ah, Jonathan and Drew, I’ll always have a soft spot for you. But after a while, my brain sort of felt like it was rotting. This maternity leave I’ve been a bit better about it (although Shark Tank and Ladies of London have made their way into my rotation), but I thought it might be fun to compile a list of brainy but enjoyable things to do with short pockets of time at all hours of the day (where you may or may not have the use of both of your hands, and you may or may not be able to be much more than a passive listener).

  • TEDFast Company has called it the “new Harvard,” and it’s free. World-renowned speakers — professors, authors, leaders, etc. — give 18-minute talks on subjects of interest to them. Watch Sheryl Sandberg talk about how we have too few women leaders, watch numerous talks on the power of body language, or delve into something fun like the secret to desire in a long-term relationship or the concept of happiness and parenting. (I’d suggest starting with TED, rather than TEDx videos — there are some great ones in the TEDx ones but they’re a bit less tightly curated than the talks presented at the official TED events.)

These ideas are all pretty video-focused because I was looking primarily for something productive to do with my iPad or phone while breastfeeding, and because it feels like I never get a chance to watch long videos otherwise — I’m too antsy to do other things if I’m in front of the computer! (I do sometimes listen to audio books while I’m tidying up around the apartment, and I suspect I could get into them if I lived in a car culture… but for breastfeeding I preferred to have something to watch with one eye (keeping the other eye on the baby). (You can also watch some of these on your big screen TV through something like TiVo, Plex Media Server, or more, which may be worth looking into if you don’t have an iPad and don’t want to watch things on your phone.)

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with just watching Netflix or Jenna Marbles videos if you want to — I know even Tina Fey notes in Bossypants that she caught up on Entourage while pumping.  (A great read, btw.)  Still, I’m curious — for those of you nursing and pumping, do you have any favorite things to watch?  Any favorite TED videos or online classes to recommend?  


  1. Not to watch, but I really focused on improving my photography hobby. I joined an online photography forum, took online classes and seminars, learned more about post-processing, and generally just took a ton of pictures of my new baby.

    I figured I’d never have a better time than then to devote to it. I also made an effort to print out my pictures and actually put them in albums. I did really well until the minute I went back to work, and I have yet to put another picture in an album after that…

  2. NewMomAnon says:

    Ouch, this feels like a slap in the face for those of us who watched reruns of Project Runway on maternity leave….

    Maybe it’s a first time mom thing, but maternity leave for me was about recovering from a traumatic labor, soothing a colicy baby, and trying to figure out how to manage life and marriage with a baby. For women expecting their first baby, keep your expectations very low for maternity leave. I had grand plans to finally beat Final Fantasy something rather, and literally haven’t turned on the console since baby was born.

    The self-improvement things I did during maternity leave mostly consisted of adjusting to motherhood: new mama’s class, mom and baby yoga, reading parenting books/blogs/discussion boards, and learning lots of lullabies.

    • (former) preg 3L says:

      +1. Maternity leave should be about recovery. I had 13 days of rest before returning to class and I can’t even imagine trying to be “productive” during that time.

    • +2. I chuckled when I read this post. It’s awesome for women who are able to build new skills / learn new things while on leave, but I was “that” woman who could barely get it together to shower 3x/week and regularly change my underwear those first couple months.

  3. Maddie Ross says:

    Yeah, no. I watched so.much.bad.TV while on maternity leave and don’t feel badly about it at all.

  4. I read a lot while I was nursing, but nothing improving. Life was hard enough already, so I just focused on fun things to read.

    Have you ever noticed the urge to be constantly self-improving is particularly acute in women? All the men I know pretty much think they are fine just the way they are, and the women are always trying to better themselves. I try to take a cue from my husband and just relax in my downtime.

  5. Oh my goodness. Before my mat leave I had grandiose plans of cooking my way through Julia Child, like in Julie & Julia. Did I open it once? Noooooo.

    So no, my focus was solely on my baby, and I don’t think I could possibly have managed anything else. Any reading I did was on baby care and child development.

  6. Katarina says:

    I watched a lot of bad TV while nursing on maternity leave. Early on, nursing took so much effort I would have trouble following good TV and nursing at the same time. I did dislike feeling unproductive, but I think that is just the nature of taking care of a newborn. I did do a little CLE, but now while nursing.

  7. Deckled Edges says:

    I had big plans for maternity leave, but it mostly ended up consumed by learning how to care for this new tiny person. I did, however, dedicate my nursing times to re-reading the entire Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables series on my iPhone or iPad (Kindle app!). It was wonderful and I found myself actually looking forward to those nighttime nursing sessions!

    I also discovered Crash Course on YouTube and watched a whole bunch of those. I loved getting a quick 10 minute dose of learning (or sometimes refresher) in a quirky, fun format. I didn’t usually have more than 10 minutes at a time for TV watching, so this was a perfect fit for our new schedule around the house.

    I still don’t understand how people are out and about making mom friends during those early months. It was a big win for us if I was dressed before 2 pm. Even then, it felt like my son was always needing to go down for a nap – there is no way I could have squeezed any social time in between his numerous short naps (aka crap naps) throughout the day. Clearly I missed some secret to managing life with a newborn.

  8. Self-Improvement Overload says:

    Productivity? While nursing (because you have to nurse, of course)?

    No. Can we ever just be *enough*?

    I’m about to go on my first maternity leave within the next few weeks and the thought that I need to be using the time to be “productive” beyond learning to take care of a baby and *maybe* attempt to lose enough weight to fit into a few of my normal clothes by the time I go back to work… it’s just discouraging and overwhelming and I haven’t even had the baby. Expectations on women and mothers are so high already. I can’t imagine putting any additional expectations on myself.

    If I should happen to find something “productive” to do that I enjoy and feel like I can take on, then great. And I think it’s wonderful if people are able to do that if its something they want. But good grief. This is like the opposite of that article that was on regular C*rp*r*tt* about being kind to yourself when you’re working insane hours.

  9. I went in for my annual evaluation when my son was 6wks. I will never forget my (male) evaluating partner recommended I get some professional reading in while I was out on leave. He even let me borrow his copy of “Reading Law.” How generous, right?

    I would not have survived nursing before iphones and DVRs. Would have lost my mind from boredom.

    • Meg Murry says:

      Yeah, I think a huge part about why nursing didn’t work out with me for my first son was that I was just bored out of my mind nursing him all night long, and felt guilty when I was watching TV in the middle of the night while nursing him instead of just paying him 100% attention. Plus that was pre DVR, tablet and smartphone for me, and there was nothing on tv at 4 am.

  10. Meg Murry says:

    Bossypants is also a great audiobook to keep you entertained while dealing with 12 tons of laundry – its narrated by Tina Fey herself.

    I also didn’t really do any special projects – I watched lots of TV and movies (the Chew and Rachel Ray were part of the middle-of-the-night cluster feeding routine). One thing I did a little of that I wish I had done more of was combing through the recipes I have saved over 20,000 different sites and bookmarking them all in one place, especially good one for dinners and meal planning once I was back to work. I did do some grocery lists while nursing and then prepped some frozen meals for once I went back to work during my last week or two of maternity leave, once I was out of pure survival mode.

  11. dreamBlue says:

    I feel like this is the one time in your life (other than when you have the flu or something) that its totally OK to just watch bad TV. Am I missing something?

    question about maternity leave tho – were any of you ladies in the position at your office where you were literally the only one who could do certain tasks? If so, how did you handle maternity leave?

    I am in a critical role at my company, which is on the smaller side. Because of regulatory/compliance, I am the only one allowed to ‘touch’ certain data. Someone else in my department could do it, but they don’t have the technical skills (conversely, there are others in the R&D department that have the technical skills but not the regulatory clearance to do so).

    If/when I get pregnant, I’m not sure what’ll happen. I guess part of me says “not my problem, I’m entitled to maternity leave” but I also want to do well at my job and don’t want to see the company suffer because they have to blunder through while I’m gone. Theoretically I wouldn’t mind working on my maternity “leave”, but I know that’s (1) probably not realistic because, new crying baby and physical pain and (2) tricky from an HR perspective as to how to compensate me/categorize my employment.

    What did others do? As a lawyer I’d guess you’d just shift your cases to others in the firm, but in my technical field it’s almost like they’d need to hire someone to replace me temporarily.

    • Famouscait says:

      I am in the same situation in my office. I have a temp. worker starting this week who I will train for the next two months. When I go out on leave at the beginning of November, my goal is to be totally offline for the first 6 weeks (over the holidays). In reality, I will probably check in with temp. worker on a limited basis (maybe every other day, via text message or email) to make sure everything’s OK, and do limited trouble-shooting from home as needed. I’ll start transitioning back to work in January (working part time, from home) so it’s just that first period that is the real concern.

      As for how to make it work, I really had to argue my case to get the temp. worker. But, once I put down on paper all the things that had to happen while I would be out on leave and happening immediately after I returned to work, it became obvious that there had to be some sort of plan for coverage.

    • I think you answered it yourself in your last sentence — they’ll have to hire someone to replace you temporarily. It happens all the time and it’s not an indication that you aren’t a team player. Even at my small law firm, they had to hire two contract attorneys to cover my cases while I was gone because they didn’t have the bandwidth among the rest of the attorneys on staff to cover it. If you want something to propose to your company, I’d suggest that you be involved in hiring the temp, and that the temp overlaps with you for 2 months before your due date so that you can train them. Then go on your leave and don’t look back!

      • hoola hoopa says:

        This. Either the work timeline is arranged so that it waits for your return or someone else does it while you’re gone. For your situation, it’s probably simplest for someone with the technical skills to be given clearance. I also work in a data/technical field, and that’s typically what we do if someone is out for any reason.

        Remember that you and your employer/team will have ~6 months of lead time to plan for your leave.

  12. Famouscait says:

    I don’t feel like Kat’s suggesting anyone has to do anything besides take care of the new baby, or that watching mindless TV isn’t a worthy time filler while on maternity leave. But I actually really like this post. I have a hard time sitting still, don’t watch a lot of TV (only have Hulu and Netflix) and so the suggestions at the top of the post sound right up my alley. It actually reminded me of a podcast from iTunesU that I started a few years ago and would like to finish: Justice with Michael Sandel.

    • mascot says:

      I had 3 months of leave and by week 8, I felt like my brain was rotting. I could only watch the third hour of the today show so many days. Yes, it was great to be with my child, etc., but going from an intellectually challenging day job to a physically/emotionally exhausting 24 hour job is a big switch. I think that this post has some good suggestions.

      • Carrie M says:

        This made me laugh out loud….how many times a week can you stand watching Hoda and Kathie Lee drinking at 10am?! That was me on mat leave. I liked Kat’s suggestions, but I was not productive at all on leave….lots of bad TV and blog reading. I watched seasons 1 and 2 of Homeland and caught up on some other shows. I did read a couple of baby-related books, which were helpful and interesting. Maybe for #2 I’ll have it together enough to do something productive but enjoyable.

    • Agreed. Eventually mindless tv and Internet surfing might get boring. Kat’s not suggesting calculus classes–just some activities some people might find interesting after the whole baby care thing smooths out. I joined two book clubs for the fall, and I’ve been spending part of my mat leave reading those. (My baby is five weeks old.) This isn’t self-improvement, just how I like to spend my time. I appreciate the post.

    • hoola hoopa says:

      I share other reader’s negative reaction to the word “productivity,” but I agree that it’s nice to have suggestions for alternatives to mindless television. I think of it as brain fidgeting rather than any real personal development, though. I like the suggestion of TED talks and also perused youtube instructional videos, but I personally wouldn’t have been interested in the other ideas. An online class would be far too much commitment for me. I did a lot of reading, particularly non-fiction in areas unrelated to my work that were written for general consumption, such as Freakonomics or The Female Brain. They didn’t require my full attention or make me feel like I truly needed to focus or retain any of it. I also enjoy memoir types of books, like Bossypants, Eat/Pray/Love, etc.

  13. Nope. I spent my entire maternity leave cuddled up on the couch with my tiny baby, and wouldn’t have it any other way. I read a lot of books on my Kindle while he slept on me, but they were all trashy/fun books like Gone Girl and Divergent. There is something so nice about just living in the moment and doing things according to a newborn’s crazy schedule. (Of course now I want to go pick up my toddler from daycare RIGHT NOW and cuddle that guy!)

  14. Moms, I need some advice about keeping your marriage healthy after a new baby arrives. I just had my first baby a few months ago. After the birth I was exhausted and falling apart for a long time. I also had milk supply issues which didn’t help and I was recovering from a c-section. All this is to say that I was pretty cranky during the first three months, and not very kind to my husband. I’m ashamed to say this, but it’s true. I was so drained from caring for the baby that I put zero effort into my marriage. I took a lot of my frustrations and sleep deprivation out on him.

    Now things are distant between us and I don’t know how to improve. I think my husband is scared of being close to me because I might snap his head off! Does anyone out there have experience with this, or advice for how to get things back on track?

    • mascot says:

      Communication. Tell him that you love him still. Talk about what works and what doesn’t in parenting routine. Also, make time for dates. It can be as simple as a glass of wine and a movie after baby is asleep or as involved going away for a night sans baby. Have lunch together. Take a walk while baby is napping in the stroller. Physical intimacy helps too. You may have to take little steps depending on where you are with healing and being touched out. If you are still falling apart in the next few months, talk to your doctor about screening for PPD, it can occur anytime in that first 12 months.

    • I think telling him that you regret how you treated him might go a long way toward clearing the air. And then making time to connect. It doesn’t have to be a fancy date night, even just taking a walk together with baby in a stroller can be a good opportunity to talk.

    • 3rd the walk with the baby in the stroller — it hits multiple birds with one stone – 1) the Baby will be contained and most likely content since riding in stroller = sleeping. 2) Exercise is good for you, gets you out of the house + endorphines. 3) You will have time to focus on talking with your husband.

      My other suggestion would be to make a focused effort to say “please” and “thank you” to each other. I also try to give my husband very specific instructions what I need in the moment. In the beginning (ha! We’re only 7 months into this) he felt at a loss on how to help, or I gave vague instructions as to what I would like his assistance with, and in the end everyone felt crummy. A friend gently recommended a) let him do it his way and/or b) if it must be done my way (pick those battles) give polite but direct instructions. And say “please”. A little bit of politeness really helps everyone feel appreciated, and it must likely will be reciprocated.

      • Spirograph says:

        Your friend had really good advice.

        OP, please cut yourself some slack — the first few months are an incredibly stressful time with a lot of adjusting necessary even under the best circumstances, and I don’t think anything you did is uncommon. I hope both you and your husband understand that! My son is a year and a half old. I still feel like I don’t put as much effort into my marriage as I (or my husband) think I should, and I still take things out on him when I get overwhelmed. I try not to, but it happens; sometimes I don’t prioritize or handle stress well. Taking the time to acknowledge that and talk about it (usually over a walk; I find it much easier to have serious and candid conversations without the intensity of direct eye contact) with him goes a long way for us.

        Second the date night as well. It was hard for us at first to find things to talk about other than work or the baby, but we try to keep those subjects off limits so we can practice appreciating each other as individuals again.

    • I found ‘dating’ my husband really helped. We needed to spend together just the two of us without baby talk. Sometimes just an hour here or there was enough to get us back on the right track.

      When I was still nursing frequently we used to drop the baby off an hour early for Sunday dinner at my parents – go grab a coffee while they played with the baby and then had dinner as usual with them. Or on weekends I’d ask my mom to stop by for a half hour while she was running errands so we could go for a short walk together. As baby got older we expanded to date night on Saturdays – not every Saturday but aim for at least twice a month.

    • Carrie M says:

      I agree with the PP – communication is key, and being polite goes a long way. I’ve been trying really hard to recognize things my husband does – saying thank you if he washes her bottles for daycare, cooks dinner, cleans up, etc. I think he’s doing these things more because (1) I clearly need the help and he’s amazing, and (2) he feels appreciated.

      This may sound strange, but I also have made an effort to have s – x, even though I’m often feeling too tired to really want to engage, I initiate. In the end, I usually feel happier and closer to him, and I think it’s helping us connect as a married couple / adults. Not to say s – x is everything, but it is important.

      • mascot says:

        +1 to intimacy being important. Physical affection is one of the top love languages for both of us. So even if we are completely missing each other with our words and not seeing eye to eye, we usually mend much faster if one of us takes some initiative.

  15. Katherine K says:

    Absolutely, Self Improvement Overload – no need to feel “productive” during nursing. You’re ALREADY doing what you’re supposed to be doing!

    During both my maternity leaves, I watched whatever TV I could during the day (mostly repeats of “Mad Men” and “Downton Abbey” episodes, so I never felt like I was missing anything when I would inevitably get distracted.) I’ve found with both boys that, now that they’re a bit older (6 months), I tend to read library books on my Kindle or phone during the evening and nighttime nursing sessions, when he’s asleep, simply b/c it keeps me awake and entertained. (If baby is awake, the phone or book is too much of a distraction!)

    That said, I try to regularly remind myself to put the phone down and stay in the moment. One-on-one moments with baby can be fleeting for working moms, so I just try to enjoy the closeness. (Caveat: if I had read that last sentence just a few months ago, I would’ve wanted to punch me in the face too :) When you have a newborn and have nursed 18 times in the last 24 hours, you will have had enough of the closeness. Read a book! Watch bad TV! No judgment here!!)

  16. Meg Murry says:

    On a similar tangent to what was brought up upthread – has anyone else experienced the phenomenon where women take maternity leave to actually take care of a baby, while men take paternity leave and do everything but take care of a baby? When I was in college this was apparently a major problem with the faculty – women would take maternity leave to actually take care of a baby and recover from childbirth, and it became a problem during their tenure reviews. So there was a big push to get male faculty to take paternity leave as well, to normalize it. But the male faculty tended to take paternity leave but treat it more like a professional sabbatical – they would spend the semester off doing research, consulting or even starting a business and come back from the leave even further ahead professionally, while the women came back from leave behind. And it was made worse by the fact that the male professors tended to be older and have kids once they already had tenure, while the women needed to have kids pre-tenure or risk missing the biological window for childbearing.

    I don’t know if anything has gotten better since I left, but I just wondered if anyone else has encountered this situation? I feel like in other jobs it’s also happened to some extent – women come back from maternity leave exhausted and frazzled, while (some) men come back from paternity leave having actually gotten some rest and are refreshed, more like they took a staycation.

    • mascot says:

      I think part of what drives this exhaustion is the physical impact that this has on women. Recovering from delivery, significant hormone fluctuations, breastfeeding, and all the sleep disruptions all take a toll. Even the most hands-on men don’t suffer from those (some sleep disturbances maybe) which may explain why they are more refreshed from the beginning.

    • I’ve heard about this happening in academia as well, but the men I know personally who took paternity leaves were very hands-on with the baby. And I’ve seen a direct correlation between the length of paternity leave that men have taken and how comfortable they are taking care of their babies, and therefore how much of a parenting partner they are to their wives in the months after maternity/paternity leave is over. And most men I know are truly sad when paternity leave is over and they have to step away from their families and return to work.

      So, while I’ve also heard that story, I personally think that any guy who treated paternity leave as his book-writing sabbatical would be a real jerk. And I fear that such a story would be used by employers as a justification for why men don’t need / shouldn’t get paternity leave in the first place.

    • Spirograph says:

      Oh wow, that’s interesting. I think it also depends on when the leave is taken. I took the first 3 months off after my baby was born. My husband’s 2-month paternity leave (not common in our industry, but he made it happen) started when I went back to work.

      I would describe my maternity leave as a fog of exhaustion. I was recuperating, nursing, catching sleep and showers when I could, and doting on my baby. Occasionally I made dinner, did laundry or cleaned up the house a little, but these were total afterthoughts (and small miracles).

      When DH was home , he was tired, but obviously didn’t have any physical recovery consuming his energy. Plus, we’d started to get the hang of the whole taking-care-of-a-tiny-baby thing, baby was old enough that he could go to babysitting at the gym while my husband worked out, was sleeping a little more consistently, etc. DH made dinner almost every night, did a bit of freelance Web design for his friend’s company just for fun, and was a lot more productive in general than I had been.

      I definitely don’t want to discount the contribution that dads make when they stay home with a new baby, and I am so glad we both had the opportunity to be the primary caretaker for a spell. But based on my observation (and, you know, logic) paternity leave is not an apples to apples comparison to maternity leave. It sucks if people have expectations for men and women to come back from leave with the same “results.” Even a hands-on dad has a LOT more time and energy for personal/professional pursuits than the average new mom.

  17. eh230 says:

    Don’t know that this qualifies as productive, but I read the whole Outlander series, watched all seasons of the Sopranos and trained by hair to washed every other day instead of every day. I was forced to do a lot of sitting because I exclusively pumped.

  18. I am currently 5 months pregnant with my first child. I have been thinking about maternity leave a lot lately and I cannot decide how long I want to take for maternity leave. I need to make a decision soon, but I am trying to decide between 9 weeks to 12 weeks and whether to ask for some type of flexible work arrangement upon my return. How long did you ladies take? Was there a deciding factor for you that helped you determine how long to be out on leave? Did taking maternity leave end up hurting you professionally?

    • Nonny says:

      Take as long as you can without totally p***ing off your boss. Seriously. You won’t have a chance to be home with your baby again (well, unless you have another baby). I was hardly even coherent before 12 weeks post-partum.

      I live in Canada and took 7 months. It did not hurt me in any way. After the first 6 weeks I made sure to check in with my office on a regular basis, and answered the occasional e-mail. But everyone understood and respected that I was on mat leave and mostly just left me alone. I would have taken longer if I could, but I did recognize there was a limit on how long my clients could or would want to manage without me, and that was the deciding factor.

      When I came back (about a month ago), initially I worked only 3 days per week, and this month I am ramping up to full time. However, full time at the moment is still reduced hours as I am BFing and need to be home by 5:30 in order to nurse and spend time with my little girl.

    • I took 9 weeks and came back working slightly shorter days for 3 weeks to ease the transition. I would highly recommend easing back into things with a shorter day or maybe fewer work days each week.

      My job doesn’t offer any paid maternity leave, so the deciding factor was how much annual and sick leave I had available to use. Taking the leave did not hurt me professionally, but I was so bitter about not having any maternity leave that it made me not like my job as much. That said, I was ready to return to work at 10 weeks. I missed getting out of the house and having adult interaction.

    • Katarina says:

      I took 6 weeks. I felt like 6 weeks was the minimum I could take to establish breastfeeding. I took the minimum because my leave was all unpaid and I am the sole income earner, because my husband quit his job to stay at home. My husband did bring the baby in once a day for my first 6 weeks back at work to nurse and for me to see the baby. I dreaded going back to work. However, I was happier once I went back to work, even though I was pretty happy during my leave. I was lucky that my baby was a good sleeper. Also, it was easier to leave my baby with my husband than it would have been to leave him at a daycare. My work has always been very flexible. I did not think my maternity leave hurt me professionally, and I think I could have taken more without it hurting me professionally.

    • I’m going back very very part time at six weeks. Ask for 12. If you have complications or a fussy baby, you may not be ready as soon as you expect. Easing back in is a great idea.

    • I would take 12 weeks and try to arrange some kind of flextime for when you return, at least for a while. In my experience, once you’re out on leave, people kind of forget how long you’re supposed to be gone, and it’s kind of out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Life at the office goes on until you return. I think you can do a lot more damage to your reputation by coming back before you’re ready, and not being physically/mentally recovered enough to be there. I’ll fully admit that I was only allowed to take 12 weeks, and that was not enough time for me and I definitely struggled when I was back at work and was not very effective. I still feel like I’m trying to rebuild my reputation and reestablish myself as a good employee. Point being: 12 weeks won’t be that big of a deal to your employer versus 9 weeks, but it might allow you be more successful upon reentry.

    • 12 weeks if you can swing it. You can always come back early if things are going well. My first baby was a dream and I could have come back at 8 weeks if I’d wanted to (I didn’t, though). My second baby was a LOT more work and we needed every minute of those 12 weeks to even get to a point where I was semi-coherent during the day.

    • Wendy says:

      Not sure if you’re still checking, but I’ll chime in to agree with 12 weeks. You don’t know how much time you’ll need or how you’ll feel about coming back until you’re in that situation, but it’s better to go back early than it is to commit to coming back on [date] and then tell your office you’re taking the extra time.

      I wanted to come back a little sooner and save FMLA time to facilitate a less-than-fulltime schedule the first month or two, but my management was not supportive. I took the full 12 weeks. I was unpaid once my short term disability time was up, but the time was worth every penny of lost earnings. I was completely out of pocket the whole time, and it didn’t affect my career at all. In fact, I was promoted pretty much immediately upon my return. YMMV though – I am not in law, nor do I have a role that deals with clients or accounts that need my personal attention or face time.

      Also, this is as good a time as any to say I think the lack of paid maternity leave and culture of expecting people to rush back to full-time work in the U.S. is really unfortunate.

    • Thanks everyone for the input. I really appreciate it.

  19. Someone asked about cloth diapers over the weekend. I just cancelled our diaper service after six weeks. (I cannot imagine washing the diapers myself!) The diapers were not too hard to get the hang of. But my husband wasn’t a big fan so I was doing a lot of the changes. And my baby hated the wet feeling (the diapers don’t absorb the moisture like disposables. So the baby would wake up from the wetness and had to have a change within minutes of peeing or would cry. I was told to try hemp liners but I did not want to invest so much energy in this matter.

  20. Karin says:

    This very topic has been on my mind a lot as I prepare for my baby. I like the suggestions you provide. I’m constantly listen to podcast during work to learn more skills or understand something I didn’t know before. I can’t believe the negative comments. Some people are just inquisitive. Bad tv is good in spurts but self improvement is more satisfying.

    • Nonny says:

      I totally agree with you, and before I had my baby I would have said the same things. But you don’t know how you will feel or react until you get there. So just be prepared to cut yourself some slack if all you want to do is watch bad TV! You may not have the brainpower to do any self-improvement whatsoever.

  21. Deeps says:

    A little late to this discussion but still wanted to add my comment.

    This is a great post; Listening to podcasts or watching Ted videos or taking a new course on Udemy / COursera actually does sound doable. Glad that I found people thinking like me :-)

    I’m going to be on maternity leave soon and this time around looking for ideas to expand my knowledge base that can help in enhancing my career or learn a new skill. While I’m absolutely not sure how much I’ll be able to achieve any of that, I def want to be optimistic. This is my second baby so I feel a little more confident..been there done that, however I also have a 3 year old, though he will be in school full day. I’ll also most likely have some family help this time so I might just get lucky.
    First time around it was really really tough as I had major pp depression and a colicky baby so the first 3 months were a blur. Hoping that it will be all more manageable this time around. Good luck to all the potential readers here!

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