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5 Tips for a Smooth Transition from Work to Maternity Leave

5 Tips for a Smooth Transition from Work to Maternity Leave

Pregnancy is a rollercoaster. As soon as you find out you’re expecting a baby whether that’s a call from a doctor, a surrogate, an adoption agency or those two blue lines, your world is forever changed. Initially one of the most daunting parts of pregnancy can be sharing the news with your employer. Many women feel a sense of guilt or shame that they’ll be leaving their career to care for their growing family. Knowing how to prepare for a smooth transition from work to maternity leave can support you in feeling positive and empowered about the upcoming change.

Local moms and entrepreneurs, Jen Murtagh and Sonja Baikogli Foley are Co-Founders of Maturn, Canada’s first maternity leave program. Both Sonja and Jen struggled with lack of support systems during their transition into maternity leave. This led them to create a program that provides tools, connections, expert advice and resources to expectant and new mothers. 

“Maternity leave and the years surrounding it represent the largest single point that women leave their organisations,” adds Jen. “There’s no one to normalize the challenge of being a working mother. For me, it was very isolating.”

Through extensive research, focus groups and panels, Jen and Sonya really understand the career challenges related to maternity leave and are also ready to offer solutions. In our interview with them they shared their insight on how to make a smooth transition from work to maternity leave.

Photo credit: Maturn

Jen and Sonja’s tips for navigating the maternity leave transition

Before baby arrives is the best time to start planning and seeking out support. Asking the right questions of employers and like-minded mothers is valuable when navigating maternity leave.

Here’s their to-do list for the months before maternity leave. 

1. Get You Paperwork in Order 

Photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson
  • Develop a maternity leave transition plan with your supervisor. Find out if you have a replacement and how your workload is being redistributed. 
  • Find out what forms HR or your company requires you to complete and access them early in case you have questions.
  • Assess your childcare options and get on waitlists.
  • Request a Record of Employment from employer.

2. Communicate

Photo credit: Christina @
  • Ensure all the appropriate people in your company, including clients, know you are taking leave. Avoiding any surprises will set you up for success. 
  • Create and share your maternity transition plan so your colleagues are aware of the status of all your ongoing work. 
  • In case you go into labour early or are informed quickly about your adoption process, draft an email with key projects, clients, contacts and status of work to ensure continuation.
  • If you’ll be setting an out of office, find out where your emails and communications will be directed to and speak to that person. 

3. Know your Company Benefits and Policies

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  • Understand your benefits and company policies as they relate to maternity leave.
  • Determine if you are eligible for a promotion while on maternity leave.
  • Confirm your extended health and benefits coverage while on maternity leave. 
  • Ask about vacation accrual while on maternity leave.
  • If your employer offers a bonus structure, understand the process around bonus payouts while you are on maternity leave.

4. Create a Budget 

Photo credit: STIL
  • Prepare to apply for Employment Insurance as soon as your leave begins.
  • Fill out applicable forms for baby to be added to your health benefits plan.
  • Understand the tax implications of maternity leave.
  • Create a budget under your maternity leave benefits to determine the impact to your monthly income.
  • Research costs of diapers, wipes, formula and other baby essentials so you can plan ahead.

5. Practice Self Compassion 

Photo credit: Jason Goodman
  • The weeks leading up to expanding your family can be filled with surprises so go easy on yourself if changes occur or things don’t go exactly to plan. 
  • When possible, take time for yourself before transitioning out of work and onto maternity leave. Give yourself the opportunity to relax and focus on your own needs. 
  • Understand that you’re not alone in the process and seek support when you need it. 

“Many maternity leaves are announced by saying, ‘whoops, I’m pregnant or sorry, I’m expecting,’” shares Jen. “We want to empower women to take ownership of their transition.” 

Following the above steps will help set expectations and also support you feeling empowered on this next stage of your life journey. If you want to go a step further, Maturn offers support to both organizations and expecting mothers.

“Don’t apologize, share a plan confidently,” says Sonja. “Motherhood is a radical new relationship with yourself. I wish I had known that letting go is a beautiful thing.”

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