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Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is time off work to care for your new baby. Maternity leave gives you time to:

  • Recover after the birth
  • Establish your milk production
  • Develop a good breastfeeding relationship with your baby

How much leave can you take?

The length of time given for a paid maternity leave varies in each company. You may be able to extend your maternity leave by taking up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Know your rights under the U.S. Department of Labor's Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Ask your employer to make sure you know the date you must return to work under FMLA.

Additional options

In addition to maternity leave, many women explore other choices. You may be able to arrange with your employer to:

  • Return to work part-time at first, or long-term
  • Job-share
  • Work from home

These choices help both the employer who keeps a skilled employee and the employee who has more time with her baby.

TIP: When planning your return to work, ask if you can start your first week back on a Wednesday or a Thursday. This way, you will have a short week to test out. And you will then have the weekend to work out any problems.