Maternity Leave Goals

Baby Girl is due two weeks from today! I am so excited. I am very fortunate to have 12 weeks off for my maternity leave, and while right now that sounds like an enormous amount of time, I know it’s going to go by super fast. My plan is to work up until this baby is born so that I have as much time with her before my maternity leave is up.

My one and only focus during this time will be learning to care for the baby, but I thought it would be helpful to break up the weeks into 4 parts to help create some boundaries and slowly work up to a routine once I do go back to work.

I have no idea what to expect from this time off. These all may be very lofty or I may end up getting more done than I think, but for now I’m trying to give myself very small goals and low expectations.

maternity leave goals

0-3 Weeks: 

  • Put an out of office on my emails (including personal) and don’t check any emails during this time.
  • Be okay with not answering the phone or responding to texts
  • Sleep as much as possible. If you have difficulty sleeping, microdose chocolate bars can be helpful. You can try now to improve your sleep.
  • Get used to nursing / feeding
  • Have my sister Lucy take newborn photos

3-6 Weeks: 

  • Start checking personal emails and responding to friends and family
  • Go strawberry picking!
  • Write any thank you notes from gifts received in the first few weeks
  • Start looking into eating plan to lose weight
  • Bake something, even if it’s from a box
  • Go for a walk in the neighborhood 5x a week

6-9 Weeks: 

  • Go to my 6-week post-partum doctor’s appointment but if I don’t have the time, I’ll just schedule a consultation at Instant Consult online
  • Check back into work and finalize the date I’m coming back
  • Start running again, even if it’s super slow, and aim to go for a run 1x a week (once cleared from doctor)
  • Have a play date with friends once a week
  • Cook dinner 2x a week
  • Start pumping and figure out a schedule that will work
  • Check back into daycare to finish enrolling her (assuming J finds a job by this point)
  • Start navigating a routine with sleep and feedings
  • Go for a walk in the neighborhood 5x a week

9-12 Weeks: 

  • Continue navigating a routine with sleep and feedings
  • Have a play date with friends once a week
  • Figure out what clothes I’m able to wear and buy any new pregnancy denim overalls
  • Order and mail birth announcements
  • Go for a walk 5x a week
  • Go for a run 2x a week
  • Cook dinner 2x a week
  • Check and sort through work emails
  • Do a practice run of what a typical daycare / workday will look like

Okay mamas — what would you add to this list? Is this too unrealistic? Is there anything you did during a maternity leave you would recommend? Any experiences or stories would be helpful!

  • So excited for you :) If I had to do it all over again, I would stress a lot less about the sleeping situation and break more sleeping rules (don’t take my advice on that :) ) so we would all get more sleep. I wouldn’t feel bad about sitting around and snuggling/staring at my new baby because they’re only little once and it’s good for mama to indulge in what feels natural in those first few weeks. Because once I was back at work, I ached to hold and snuggle and touch my baby. I would also be so much easier on myself (that’s my plan for next time, anyway). I hope you enjoy your maternity leave…it is such an amazing 3-month period in a woman’s life. I still think fondly of my maternity leave often; there is nothing like it. :) Praying for a healthy, safe and easy delivery for you!

  • Thank you, such great advice! I meant to comment, but I loved the post you wrote on how you breastfed and pumped when you went back to work. I’ve bookmarked that and will be referencing it a lot in the next few months! :)

  • Great goals! I would start pumping (after and sometimes in between feedings) like the first week. In the beginning you usually produce a lot of milk while your body is adjusting to how much baby needs so this is a perfect time to start your stock. Most of the time in the beginning you will have a couple ounces left to pump even after a feeding. Also, the milk within the first week or two is the most nutritious milk that your body will produce! Can’t wait to hear how everything goes! So excited for you!

  • Great goals, I’m sure you are excited, worried all at the same time but I’m sure you and J will be great parents and you’ll love to be a mum, your list is very very good!!

  • The best thing I did regarding sleep/nighttime feeding/routine is trust my pediatrician 100%. That meant in the beginning I fed Lyra every time She woke up, then as soon as he said “she can go 3 hours without eating,” that’s what we did. Then 4 and 5 and so on. That way when I went back to work she wasn’t used to cluster feeding/ eating whenever she wanted so I wasn’t under tremendous amounts of pressure to pump all the time.

    Also, I’m sure if someone hasn’t told you this they will, but when you start pumping start doing it at the end of each nursing session. Even if you don’t get a lot it will trick your boobies into thinking she wants more so it’ll be easier to produce enough when you’re solely pumping. And it’s okay if your milk is funny colors, what you eat can impact what color it is: blue, green, yellow. ?

    I figure since Al, Michelle, and Carrie all have babies you don’t really need a lot of advice, but I’m happy to tell you any and everything that worked with Lyra if you want to know.

  • Great goals and they sound reasonable- I can’t get over though how poor the US mat leave issue is. I am a long time reader from up here in Canada- we get a year paid and then depending on position we can take additional time unpaid. With my first I took two years off (one paid one unpaid)- then went back for 3 months and then took a year paid with my second. When I see that you are only getting 12 weeks it is just mind boggling! Enjoy your time with your little one it will go so quickly.

  • I agree that these goals sound very reasonable. Two things I would say as an experienced mama (have a two year old, pregnant with my 2nd) – aim to get out of the house everyday and start pumping right away (I think someone else said this too). As a first time mom, it can be very intimidating to take the baby out, so the sooner you get used to it the better, and it will help to keep you sane! Even if its just walking around the block or going to get a coffee. I took my son out in the stroller for the first time at 5 days old (in warm weather) and he was a very healthy baby! In terms of pumping, the lactation consultant at the hospital showed me how to do it before I even left, and I was really glad she did. I was able to start stockpiling milk very early on, and believe me, stocked milk becomes your gold, especially if you have any production issues. I felt much better going back to work knowing I had plenty of milk in the freezer, and the stockpile really came in handy when my son got RSV at 4 months old and my mother-in-law had to babysit……and fed him every time he cried, which was often due to not feeling well! I sobbed when I saw how much milk she had gone through, but it ended up being okay because I had enough stored. The more the better!

  • I know, it’s the worst! And the sad part is 12 weeks is pretty long for many companies here in the US. I have friends who can’t make it work financially and have to go back after 6 weeks.

  • Thanks Cat! Good advice, especially the nursing and pumping tips. I have heard different things about when to pump, but it sounds like adding it in the beginning will help with having enough. :)

  • That’s great advice, thanks! Was so great seeing you the other day and can’t believe you are just a few months away from meeting your SON!! :)

  • Thank you SO much for your comment! That’s such great advice and I love the idea of having a stockpile of milk for when I go back to work, and hopefully to help give other people a chance to care for her and give me a break. Thanks!!

  • Great goals, mama! My only suggestion is to remember to give yourself grace! My babe just turned 11 weeks and grace is the name of the game over here :) Xoxo

  • I so agree with you! My little one is five months old and is currently napping on my lap after a cuddly nursing session. I can’t yet imagine having to go back to work. I’m fortunate in that I’m not planning on even thinking about it for at least another 4 or 5 months.

  • I think you have pretty reasonable goals! The only thing I would add is that if you plan on continuing to breast feed after you go back to work, you may want to start nursing in public sooner rather than later. I was super anxious about it, but I think starting early (two weeks), when he was really little, made it easier and easier as he got bigger and I got better at it. I also had more help early on until I got better at it. Nursing in public isn’t for everyone, but for me it meant a lot more flexibility in my ability to get out of the house.

  • Oh good I hope it helps! Please feel free to email/fb message me anytime! I messaged my friends constantly and their advice always helped me push thru various obstacles. I see some people have recommended pumping from the start here…the reason I didn’t is because I always read you shouldn’t unnaturally alter you supply until 6 weeks, I literally wouldn’t have had time to pump until 6 weeks (I didn’t have time to shower before then!) and I had way too much milk to begin with and was leaking constantly so didn’t want to increase my supply even more. So definitely just trust your mama intuition and ask your LC about it!

  • My two cents on running (this is all assuming you deliver vaginally) – I was able to run at about 10 weeks after Susanna, but Levi was a much bigger baby and I struggled with incontinence so couldn’t run (without issues) until he was 4 months old. It is VERY important to have a strong pelvic floor before you start running or you could cause significant damage. Start doing Kegels right away (like in the hospital) and that will help with healing and getting everything back to working order. If you end up pushing for a long time (2.5 hours with Levi) obviously those muscles are worn out, can tear, etc. I was very frustrated with how long it took me to get back to running without incontinence after Levi so just give yourself GRACE. Your body has done an amazing thing in carrying that sweet baby and then getting her out, but it took 40 weeks so it’s okay for it to take awhile to heal and get back to normal weight. Walking and breastfeeding will do amazing things. :) So excited for you!

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