Family or Medical Leave Act or FMLA  allows for 12 weeks of maternity leave. This 12 week timeframe does not include sick, vacation and personal time, in most cases. While employer policies will differ, most employers allow various forms of paid leave before unpaid maternity leave begins. 

Using paid leave is important when your income is needed for paying household and living expenses. 

Sick Leave
Sick leave is time accrued for use during sickness. Most accrual systems add a small amount of time to the total each pay period based on total hours worked. Sick leave accumulates and can be used with or without a doctor’s note, depending on company guidelines. It is best to use sick leave before giving birth as FMLA leave starts at this time. Many pregnant women choose to use sick leave for doctor’s appointments, routine check-ups and hospital stays during pregnancy. 

Vacation Time
Vacation time is typically allotted in one lump sum. Every company offers different guidelines for accrual of vacation time, but most large companies offer some sort of vacation leave after the first or two of employment. In many cases, vacation time can be broken into individual days or groups of days. Some women choose to take their entire vacation leave weeks before going on maternity leave. 

Personal Time
Personal time is accrued like sick leave in most large companies. This time is offered for the employee to use as desired, as long as time missed does not place an undue hardship on the business. Personal time can be used in small bits; taking a few hours off at the end of each work day, or in larger bits; taking entire days or multiple days off. 

Using Paid Leave During FMLA Leave
If every doctor’s appointment is attended on a regularly scheduled off day and there are no complications during the pregnancy, you may find you have tons of paid leave available when FMLA leave starts. Many employers will allow employees on maternity leave to use paid time during FMLA leave. This paid time does not add onto the 12 week maternity leave, but it does provide a paycheck to cover family expenses. When all paid leave is depleted, maternity leave continues until the 12 week period is complete. 

Short Term Disability and Paid Leave
There is a small waiting period from the time you apply for short term disability until payments arrive. During this time, most employers allow pregnant employees to use paid leave to continue income. If no paid leave is available to leave will remain unpaid until short term disability checks begin to arrive.