One of the biggest decisions for a working mother is when to return to work after their baby is born. Some mothers have their minds made up, whether for personal or financial reasons, to return to work just 6 weeks after the baby is born. Six weeks is the typical waiting period due to childcare age requirements and release from doctor’s care after birth. Other mothers struggle with the desire to stay at home to raise their baby, often worrying about the financial stress the extended maternity leave could have on family and personal finances. The ultimate decision about when to return to work after birth depends on many factors, all of which should be taken into consideration before making the final decision. 

The Six Week Waiting Period

In most cases, women are allowed to return to work at six weeks post-partum. This is when doctors release a patient from obstetric care and when infants are allowed to be enrolled in daycare. If a personal baby sitter or family member will be caring for the infant after birth, some doctors will release a patient from care before the six week period has lapsed. Most doctors require at least three weeks of post-partum care before releasing a woman to return to work. 

Baby Versus Family Finances

If your family finances depend on your income, staying how with baby may not be a viable option. Many mothers face this situation, but there are alternative options that may allow for more personal time at home while returning to work. 

Some employers allow telecommuting some or most days of the week. Telecommuting cuts down on business expenses and allows the employee to work from home with baby. Ask your employer, personnel or human resources department if telecommuting from home is supported. 

Taking Time for Family to Start Anew

If you’ve been working with the same company for many years and desire a change, maternity leave may be the most opportune time to make that change. Some new mothers choose to cash out stock options and retirement plans to start a home business or go back to school during an extended maternity leave. The time off gives mom more time with baby and allows her to make the new start she has been dreaming of. 

Choosing when to return to work after maternity leave requires thought and financial planning before making a final decision. FMLA allows 12 weeks maternity leave, after which time you will have to make a final decision about when or if to return to work.