Maternity leave is going to be a part of your life if you are a working woman and because you’ve got nine months to work with, you’ll want to address this phase in your life with your employer before it’s too late. The last thing you’ll want is to make things uncomfortable or leave things unfinished. If this is your first time tackling maternity leave, you’re in luck because all you need are the following tips and information.

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, begin planning for your maternity leave. This includes finding out what your company’s policy is on maternity leave. You want to make sure you’re following all the rules so that you don’t have any unwelcome surprises when you return to work. If you have any questions about your company’s maternity policy, don’t hesitate to ask your boss or someone in the Human Resources department. Make sure you understand your rights and what to expect.

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When you’re ready, let your boss know that you are expecting and see if you can compromise on a certain schedule for your workload and priorities as you get closer to your due date. This will keep your boss and coworkers in the loop and make them aware of any upcoming changes. You don’t want to keep anyone in the dark. Communicate with your co-workers and anyone that is involved in the projects you are so that everyone is on the same page.

By the time your maternity leave comes around, you should have a solid idea about who is going to take over for you, what they’ll be working on and what needs to be finished up due to your absence. Another important thing to consider is making sure people can contact you. Leave important phone numbers with your employer and coworkers so that they can contact you in case of an emergency or if they have questions. However, make them understand that this doesn’t give them free reign to call you whenever they want on a daily basis.

Because maternity leave can be a big change in your life, make sure you discuss this time period with your significant other. Be sure that you both compromise on what the terms and conditions will be for your maternity leave and make your friends and family aware as well. Because you can only plan ahead so far, take certain things one day at a time and don’t feel the need to put too much pressure on yourself. As your due date gets closer, set up your email (both personal and business) to send out an auto response notifying people of what is going on.

Keep things real and know yourself. You may experience a change of heart afterward and may not want to return to work or maybe you want to begin working from home in order to accommodate your new lifestyle. If the end result is a drastic change from what you had originally planned for your maternity leave, be open and communicative about your change and how you plan on handling it. Whatever you do, don’t burn your bridges with your job. They may not be happy with your decision but as long as you remain professional about it, that’s what counts. If you plan on working from home, take time to organize a home office for yourself.