Maternity Leave :: Take It and Love It

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Maternity Leave, a brief history: Did you know that the FMLA act of 1993 mandates a minimum of 12 weeks unpaid leave to mothers? It was in the mid-to-late 60’s that only 14% of women participated in the workforce and previous to that women would “retire” from the workforce entirely after having children.

Boy, have the times changed.

So, you’re going to have a baby? No doubt you have sat and daydreamed of cuddles and sweet snuggles. Maybe you have written a birth plan, you’re thinking about what your medical care is going to look like; ie, birth center, hospital or home birth to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, cloth or disposable diapers. However, one important question you should be asking yourself is, “What do I need?”

With baby showers and sprinkles, family excitement and life as we know it,  we as women transitioning into any stage of motherhood, tend to forget to attend to our own needs. Whether it is your first or last baby, or anywhere in between, don’t forget about carving out time in the day to serve our own spirit, at a time when check-in for ourselves is crucial. 

maternity leave

Self-care during pregnancy is so important, but what about maternity leave? Taking work off your plate to prepare for birth, I found out the hard way, is vital. It has also furthered the notion that we do not live in a mom forward society. I am a self-employed, small business owner and had to spend months padding our finances to take time out for our new addition. Most women work up until their “due date” or more recently called “guess date.” Clearly, this is based on your pregnancy, your health, and your baby’s health.  Maternity leave is about more than “nesting”. It is dedicated time for self-care, rest and a little catch-up and get ahead. At the urging of my midwife, I left my massage therapy practice three weeks before my due date. I’m so thankful I did. Originally I thought, “What am I gonna do with myself? But, I hadn’t realized how distracting my work was. I was tired. 

1. It all started with a list.

I tried my best to start my morning slow. After the mad dash to get everyone to school was over,  I made a list of what I wanted my day to look like in it’s entirety, which included, yes a hot bath and a nap. I spread my housework out over several days, and I slowed down and began to realize I really did need to take it easy. I had a number of house projects that I thought I would complete after our son’s arrival but with the help of my husband, they are done pre-birth.  Now when he joins us, I will have that time to stare into our baby’s eyes in love and sleep when he sleeps. My husband and I have multiple children. I was able to allot time to have a full day with them to check in on how they felt about the changes with a new baby coming.  We are a co-sleeping/ baby box family so, I was able to commit time to get our new baby boy’s space set up, take a few naps, deep clean, paint, and so much more.  

2. I took my time back. 

I made connections with friends and let them know that I would be making my way off the grid. I slowly made myself less available to clients and made more time in my home.  I simplified my schedule; doing business work that was absolutely necessary outside (on the deck) and on my own terms. I said “no” to a lot, I made sure that our children’s needs were met but beyond that, I communicated to them that my body required extra rest. It’s ok to tell them “no”. I rescheduled visits and really paid attention to my body. Something as simple as drinking enough water can be overlooked.   

3. Gather those books!

Whether you’re a bookworm,  Netflix binger, writer or artist, make time to enjoy those things. Give yourself the downtime you and your body deserve. Get creative! Having a newborn is, as you may already know, is a huge stress on your identity. You do you. 

4. Reconnect

Get in touch with your body and baby. Empower yourself. Meditate, take long walks, grab a prenatal yoga class, talk to the belly, sing or journal to your baby.  One of my favorite things I have done with all of my children has been to journal to them while they are in utero, documenting my thoughts for them and about them; what some of my own fears were, nicknames for them, emotions I experienced, movements they made, what I craved and so on. I have since written and included a few letters to them at pivotal times and will give it to them when they turn eighteen. It is a great place to house my ultrasound pictures too. 

Be still, listen to what you need. Do what makes you happy. Above all, make time for all the things that you know will be forced to the wayside when the baby arrives. You deserve it. 

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Rachel M. Roth LMBT, CPMT is a woman who’s whole life is inspired by curiosity and love. A Chicago Native, Rachel brings the great essence of the midwest to the south. She is a lover of music, food, coffee & life. She is an innate empath, a wife to a superman of a husband and mother of five children. Rachel is a Licensed Massage Bodywork Therapist with a focus on Pediatrics, Structural integration, Thai massage, and Prenatal work. Her passions run deep for Integrative Wellness much of which was inspired by her son’s journey through Tricuspid Atresia; a congenital heart defect and Pediatric Medulloblastoma‎, a form childhood brain cancer. This is where she learned that through integrative medicines, nutritional support, meditation, and much dedication the body can heal itself outside the realm of standard allopathic care. Rachel has been in practice for six years and owns her own Massage Therapy and Bodywork Practice for three. Rachel is contining her study in the scope of Bodywork for Children, currently enrolled in a BA Program at Maharishi University of Management for Ayurvedic Medicine and Integrative Medicine all while nuturing her new five month old baby boy. A woman on a mission, she has not let any challenge inhibit her from bringing her visions to fruition and does not plan to stop anytime soon! Peace, Love & Hip Hop.

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