With the revised maternity leave period in mid-2013, working mothers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of maternity leave. Varying periods is dependent on a few factors:
1. If the child is a Singapore citizen
2. Parents are lawfully married
3. Employee has to serve her employer for at least 3 months before the child’s birth
For more information, check out Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for an in-depth explanation of the eligibility of maternity leave.
If you are taking maternity leave prior to birth, those times are likely to be split between preparing for your baby’s arrival and a baby-moon with lots of couple-time VS caring for baby after delivery.
Assuming a working mother starts her maternity break only upon delivery, she will have a maximum of 16 weeks of leave. There is a flexibility of taking them on an ad-hoc basis within 12 months from baby’s birth. Sounds like a long time to you? Truth be told, these 16 weeks of leaves are precious and in fact, it is barely enough. All mothers will nod in agreement on how much new responsibilities they have to juggle, barely enough for a good rest.
These maternity leaves are so precious, how can you make the most out of it? We round up 10 things you NEED to do before your maternity leave is over!
1) Take a breather, step away
Often easier said than done. Most new mothers spend 1 – 1.5 months (4 weeks – 6 weeks) in confinement, which means holing up at home, not being able to bathe, can’t turn on the fan or air-con and work at being a mother to their newborns (nursing every 2hrs). It is easy to get lost in this whirlwind sort of change in lifestyle and new rules that fall into place. Fatigue and lack of sleep while your body recovers is quite a deadly concoction which often lead to post-partum depression.
The initial period is one of the toughest part of this chapter. Find pockets of “me” time when possible. We do not mean ignoring or leaving your child behind. If possible, sneak in some time to enjoy your favourite food during a trip to the pediatrician for your newborn’s vaccination. Go for a quick shopping trip (online shopping counts too!). Meet a friend for a meal when you’re scheduled for your post-partum check-up. Life is more than just going through the motions of feeding baby, bathing baby, changing diapers and singing endless of nursery rhymes.
2) Pamper yourself
Looking good helps you feel better about yourself. Book yourself a manicure or pedicure session. A facial or spa works wonders for the skin and body to rejuvenate those tired muscles. How about a new hair-do? Breastfeeding mums can colour, rebond or perm their hair without worrying if the chemicals are going to stream into breast milk. However, the challenge lies in planning these sessions around pump times so that baby will not be affected. Remember to prepare extra feed for bottle-feeding whenever you’re away.
3) Couple time
Being parents and being a couple are entirely different. Remind yourselves that the spousal relationship should not be neglected! Your spouse needs your love and care too. More often than not, new arguments sprout after having a baby. This new chapter calls for better communication, more understanding, stepping up to your new roles T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R and being there for each other. Find time to show support for each other with simple actions like daddy helping with diaper changes, bottle feeding, playtime when he’s back from work while mummy gets a her long-awaited bath or time to catch up over Facebook. Romance each other by going for date-nights, dinner or movies, or simply making time to enjoy a common hobby together.
4) Take a short trip
Plan a quick getaway with or without the little one. It might be hard to leave her behind, and if you’re breastfeeding, do ensure to store sufficient breastmilk for the caregivers to feed her. If you’re bringing your little one, consider a relaxing beach holiday as opposed to a non-stop shopping trip in hot temperate. You will not be able to enjoy the bargain-hunting with a screaming bub and a sweaty you. Take things nice and slow to allow your mind and body to relax – you deserve the rest!
That additional weight and load from the post-partum body seems so stubborn to get rid. Time to put the groove back and start an exercise regime for a fitter and leaner you. Simple yoga or pilates workouts can be done in the comfort of your own home. Better yet, head out to the nearest community centre for some me-time as you stretch those muscles with fellow enthusiasts. Running, dance classes or heading to the gym gives new mothers a breath of fresh air in the brains and helps relaxes the mind and soul with the release of endorphins. Working out to look good, make you feel better too, as your energy returns.
6) Upgrade yourself
Have you been wanting to catch up on your favourite novels? Or learn how to cook a new dish? Our national libraries and community centres offer a myriad of titles for any hobbyist. If you’ve been wanting to pick up a new skill like toastmasters, or improve your employability and work skills, WSQ has different courses and certifications for the working adult. Improve your self-worth while getting those brain cells moving is a great idea. It also gives your current employer a positive impression towards your dedication to your career.
7) Put Daddy-in-Charge
Give baby and daddy some bonding time together – what better time to let daddy experience what it’s like being you for a day. For a start, leave them alone for a couple of hours before slowly extending the hours. You won’t want daddy to get all flabbergasted – truth is, most fathers would just wing it. Mums just need to learn how to… let it go…
8) Make Mommy Friends and build a support network
Babies help connect people – friends whom you’ve lost contact with might make the effort to text you and ask you how things are. It says a lot and means much to the new mother. It is also a great way to reconnect friendships while sharing parenting experiences. If you spot new mothers in your neighbor, it’s also time to chat up new mommy friends. Fellow folks in similar situations share empathy and advice on how to deal with things. Keeps the positive energy going too! Mummy groups are aplenty on Facebook alone – mothers make great supporters for fellow mums and your little tots have newfound friends too! Talk about having a social life from young!
9) Surprise Daddy during lunchtime
If you’re game enough to travel with the little one (or with an extra help), make a surprise trip to visit your spouse and have lunch together. Better yet, if you have time while your little bub is asleep, a homemade meal warms the heart and the man’s stomach. Little unexpectedness brightens the tired father’s day too. And mother and baby gets bonding time outside of the house exploring new environments together.
10) Time for a Night Out
After daddy or another caregiver are okay to have mommy step away at night, plan a girlie catch-up. Hold your reins on partying all night and going home a drunkard though. Avoid drinking if possible, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby.
Always remember, a healthy mind, body and soul allows you to give your best. New mothers often beat themselves up too hard – remember that each child is different and you are already putting in your best. Embrace motherhood and everything will be rosier. After all, your baby will grow up before you know it. Happy motherhood, fellow mommies!
By Cindy Gan