Negotiating Your Leave
There's no magic formula for calculating the perfect maternity leave. It depends on you, your job, your baby -- even where you live and what time of year it is. Lock up a new mom for the winter in Maine with a colicky baby, no help, and few visitors, and you'll probably have a woman begging to return to her job, or any job, in a matter of weeks.
What's more typical, though, is the new mother who's forced -- for reasons of finance, job security, or workplace demands -- to return to the office long before she feels emotionally and physically ready. "I was so exhausted when I went back that I couldn't see straight," says a friend who took a six-week leave. "And I missed my baby so much that I just sat at my desk and cried. I really wish that I had taken a little more time."
There's no way to predict in advance how you will feel, what kind of baby you'll have, or exactly how much time off you'll want -- and need. But unfortunately, you have to make decisions about your time off long before your leave begins.
So what to do? To help you negotiate the best possible maternity leave, here are some things to keep in mind.