The Different Phases Of Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is a fantastic time to enjoy those first months of your baby’s life. In the UK we’re fortunate that our government’s maternity leave policies are flexible and generous to allow us to spend quality time with our newborn children. If you’ve worked for most of your adult life, maternity leave can be a bit of shock as you take a proper break away from work. Find out what to expect at each phase of your maternity leave below.

Arranging your maternity leave

After finding out that you’re pregnant, you’ll need to discuss it with your employers so that they can begin to make arrangements for your maternity leave. You’re entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave, which can now be taken as shared parental leave with your partner if that is your preferred arrangement. Reading a maternity and paternity leave guide for employers can help you to work out what your options are and prepare you for the discussion with your manager.

Most workplaces have their own unique policies for maternity leave, and you may need to contact your Human Resources department to establish how they apply to you. You have to tell your employer by the 15th week before your baby is due. However, many people do so earlier because they have doctors appointments to attend and have sickness during the early stages that could prevent them from working.


Unless you’ve gone into labour by surprise, you should have a couple of weeks before the baby is born to take care of last minute things and get your home ready for the baby’s arrival. Make sure you go through your pre-arrival checklist to make sure that you have everything you need in time.  More importantly, you should take the time to relax and get some rest. Labour is going to require your strength, and you’ll want to make most of the sleep before the baby arrives.

Young pregnant woman and a blackboard with copyspace

Young pregnant woman and a blackboard with copyspace

After baby’s arrival


The baby’s arrival will be one of the busiest periods of your maternity leave as you go through the birth and then the first few weeks of the baby’s life. This will be a significant period of adjustment as you get into a routine and learn more about your baby’s wants and needs. It’s likely that you’ll suffer from a lack of sleep during this time and may need to work out a rota system with your partner family members and family members to make sure you get some rest while they take care of the baby.

During the first few weeks, it’s also likely that you’ll have a lot of visitors who will want to see your new arrival. Try and arrange visits so that they happen at certain times of day, and times you know there’ll be someone else at home to help you so that you can catch up with friends and family members without feeling too exhausted.

After paternity leave ends

If your partner is heading back to work once his paternity leave is up, this will be the first time that it is really you and your baby on your own. This is where you’ll really get into the swing of motherhood and be able to make the most of your paternity leave. Yes, it will be tiring, but it’s also a time to enjoy yourself as you develop and grow with your baby.

Enjoy some great tips on things to do with your maternity leave, meet with fellow parents and just take the time to bond with your baby. If you can get someone to look after the baby for a few mornings or afternoons as well, you’ll fit in some ‘me’ time as well and do those things that are difficult to do with a baby in tow. Go shopping, get your hair done and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.

Halfway through


Image: Pexels


By the mid-way point of your maternity leave, you’ll have got into a great routine and experienced some wonderful memories already. You’ll be more confident leaving the house and have found activities that you and your baby love to do. At the halfway point you might already be thinking about what you’re going to do post-maternity and begin making preparations for going back to work. This is the stage where you’ll need to decide if you’re actually going to return, and whether or not you’ll be reducing your hours.


Halfway through your maternity is the time you might want to think about visiting the office. People will want to see the baby and see you, and it will be a good chance for you to catch up on what’s been happening while you’ve been off. ‘Keeping in Touch’ meetings are becoming more and more popular within maternity policies that will allow you to touch base with your manager and make sure that you don’t return to a whole new setup.

Returning to work

After having up to a year off, going back to work can be difficult. You’ll need to prepare to return to work and take care of things such as childcare and perhaps agree to a change of hours with your employer. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of getting up at the right time, getting the baby ready and adjusting to a new routine before you have to do it. If you’re anxious about returning to work, you might want to use up the annual leave you’ve accrued during your maternity leave to plan a phased return. This way, you can come in for a day at a time and build it up until you’ve fully adjusted to your new work/home life.


Your maternity leave is a special time that you should look forward to and enjoy. While doing the little things to plan for you baby’s arrival, you should also plan the sorts of things you’d like to do during your time off. However you choose to spend your maternity leave is up to you, so make the most of it and enjoy settling into your new life as a mum.

The Best Photo Shoots For You and Your Baby

In the days after birth, the elation you feel is unimaginable. It can make you feel superhuman and like you can take on the world because here, in your arms, is the little miracle you watched and waited for for months. There are so many different ways to commemorate a birth, but taking a portrait between mother and baby is an extra special way. Including your partner and extended family in these shoots are an excellent way to allow the entire family to bask in the love as well. Below are our top tips and ideas for photo opportunities.

Mother and Baby

Image Source

Best portraits for a newborn

A popular idea for portraits with a newborn for both mums and dads is going skin to skin. This symbolises the deep bond you have with each other, and looks great in monochrome. Another way is to photograph them sleeping in a Moses basket to show their importance in your life. You may be worried about working with newborns but there’s no need, plenty of shops out there are designed with baby in mind. Services such as Light Republic have consideration for your newborn’s schedule and habits, and offer advice on the best times to take portraits to create the best works of art for you and your baby. Having your baby all snuggled up and sleepy is a good way to remember the precious days of their early steps and simply looks cute.

Best portraits for an older baby

Older babies are up to more when it comes to photoshoots. They’ll often roll around and wiggle, and are less likely to be asleep and peaceful for the perfect shot. Use this to your advantage by having them in a creative setup such as a bed with plenty of opportunity for emerging shots, with your baby’s delight at finding you again clear on camera. Or go for a  laughing and giggling shot with you and some favourite toys around them. Some of the most aesthetically pleasing shots are the ones where a baby’s enjoyment is clear, so save a more sombre tone for a younger child. Including siblings at a later age can show how much they look alike as well.

Take a shot with a little humour

If you’re the kind of person who likes to approach all situations with a light heart, one of the best ways to take a photo with your baby is to give it a funny side. Using photo editing programmes, you can turn a normal picture of your baby into a masterpiece. It’s also a good break away from the traditional celebration, and is an excellent item for your child to laugh at when they’re older. Prove you’re a cooler parent then they give you credit for! You can have your baby flying around in planes or with umbrellas, or dress them up next to pets to show off just how much they share their lives together.

Don’t let those early days settle in your mind alone. Hanging up a portrait of your family with your baby included is the best way to look back fondly.

4 Little Ways to Prepare For the Big Arrival

a pregnant woman is holding her tummy

Preparing for the arrival of a baby is one of the most exciting yet nerve wracking experiences a woman can go through. It can be tough, particularly when pregnant for the first time, to know how to prepare and plan so that you are completely ready for the big arrival. Here are our top tips on making sure that everything is set in place for the big day.

Going With The Flow

We all like to be in control, most of time, but one of the most important thing with being pregnant is that we get comfortable relinquishing a little control and just going with the flow. We can try to control and organise everything but we all know that any baby-to-be doesn’t care about any schedule or plan that you have in place, so there will be many moments where you just need listen to your body and baby, relax, look after yourself and just go with the flow.

Focus On Your Health

The first few weeks of being pregnant are crucial to the overall health of your baby so you should make your health your number one priority. Don’t worry about anything unhealthy that you did before getting pregnant, now is the time to be really focused on being your healthiest self so that you can be in the best possible situation to look after both yourself and your baby.

Get Things In Order

We all know that having a baby can be a rather expensive chapter in life and it is better to get everything in place and ready for when he or she arrives. No one wants to be running around buying essentials with a new born baby so make sure you are looking into all the essential items that you need. Do your research and talk to mums who will be able to advise you on all the items that you are going to need in order to be ready. There are the obvious items such as getting your nursery ready and buying baby clothes, prams and other such common known items. But talking to other mums will help you figure out the other items that may not be quite so obvious for new mums. Items such as Scratch Sleeves to stop babies scratching themselves and breast pumping kits to make sure you always have enough milk for when baby is hungry. There is a lot to think about, and it can be overwhelming. But getting prepared well in advance will mean that you can feel confident that when the due date arrives you have prepared yourself for every eventuality.

Sleep and Eat

Last but by no means least, you will want to make sure that you make the most of the last few months when you will be able to eat and sleep, when you want, and not just when baby lets you. Exhaustion is one of the most common symptoms of being a new parent so get in as much sleep as you can to get yourself well rested and fighting fit for when your little one comes along.

How to stay positive when your labour doesn’t go to plan

RD - How to stay positive when your labour doesn't go to plan

Some women may have scripted an in-depth birth plan. Others may be attempting to keep their options open. No matter your personal approach to planning, all expectant mothers want one similar thing. That is, they want the labour to go well, and for baby to be delivered without complications.

Unfortunately, for many mums, regardless of how you are expecting the birthing process to pan out, there will be a hiccup or two along the way. After all, very rarely do things go exactly to plan.

That being said, this isn’t bad news. Preparing your mind in advance for some bumps in the road will help you keep calm in the event that your labour doesn’t quite go as expected. Rather than worrying over what may be, consider this part of your prenatal prep – a precaution for when baby’s heard your birth plan, but has ideas of their own.

Get yourself informed

When you find out you’re expecting a bumbling bundle of joy, you typically have at least half a year to get to grips with the idea of labour. That doesn’t make it easy, but it can partially prepare you for what’s to come.

During this time, ask questions and get informed. Speak with midwives, with nurses, with your partner. Find out about all the options available to you before, during, and after labour. Read about them, and then ask some more.

Get everything straight in your mind, so that when the time comes, you have the best possible understanding of any medication and interventions. This will help you make informed decisions – should you need to – while eliminating an element of anxiety from the situation.

Birth Plan

Pregnant women writing a birth plan

Birth plans aren’t binding

We all have an ideal idea of our birthing experience, sure we do. But, if you’re adamant about every little detail of your birth plan, there is a good chance that you may feel your labour was unsuccessful.

Birth plans are not the be all and end all. It’s good to have some preferences down in pencil, but do bear in mind that there are countless reasons that could mean your birth plan doesn’t go, well, to plan. Embrace the changes and accept that your baby is making its choices as to how they enter the world and sometimes this is different to how you wanted it to be.

Every birth is different, stay positive through those emotional, trying times, by allowing yourself to be human. Understand that, sometimes, you may have to go with an alternative option because that’s what’s best for you and for your baby.

From premature labour to inductions, breech babies and intertwined twins, there are countless reasons that your birth doesn’t go “according to plan”. Babies rarely behave in the way you expect but with a calm, informed mind, and a flexible birth plan, you can overcome almost anything.

Pretty pregnant woman with a bunch of flowers near the column