Should Maternity Leave Involve ‘Me’ Time?

This week I’ve been following the backlash in the US after an author implied that maternity leave is all about ‘me’ time and was envious of pregnant women. Whilst no-one is against a woman taking a career sabbatical, many were understandably upset that the author was implying that parental leave is some sort of holiday. Let me assure you – it is not! Reading these articles got me thinking though, I was lucky to have a longer run up during my maternity leave, despite knowing I might regret it when my maternity pay ran out earlier (I did).


A moment to breathe

So why did I decide to take a bit of extra time before Emma came along? I’m a workaholic. My work before Emma was short contracts of 6-12 months per job, and I was glad for the short stints rather than something permanent. It meant I could move companies quite easily and get to know lots of people in my field relatively quickly. However, the short term nature of the job meant the pressure was ramped up from start to finish, focussing on tight deadlines and an ever diminishing budget to get everything done (I think that’s universal to a lot of fields these days).

I put my heart and soul into my job and gave 120% every day. I loved it, the camaraderie and working with big teams who were at times hard to manage. But I got so sucked into my job that I just couldn’t switch off. I was a bit of a nightmare to go on holiday with as usually by the time I’d relaxed, it was time to come home. So I suppose these articles about ‘me’ time and single women wanting time for themselves to reflect upon their lives resonated with me. Because that was me, I didn’t stop from the moment I started working, often refusing to take a holiday so I could keep on top of everything. In fact, it was the news that Emma was growing in my belly to finally take stock that this was the next phase of our life as a couple.

It was scary

As my contract ended when I was 32 weeks pregnant, the decision was made for me. That was a scary moment – I was effectively now unemployed for the first time in my adult life and with a baby on the way, with no clue how I was going to cope as a mum. I tried not to think about it too much, as I knew that part would freak me out in an instant.

About 3 weeks into my maternity leave, I finally started to relax and just take it easy. It had taken 2 weeks to get everything cleared out of my flat in London (thanks Mum, sorry for insisting I needed to lie down while you did the heavy duty work!) but now I had a chance to breathe. And this was crucial for preparing me for what was to come, it allowed me to keep calm and spend time with my other half before our life with Emma began. I needed this time to myself, however selfish that might sound.

What I’ve learned is…

Everyone is different. What works for one person may not work for somebody else and the best advice I have ever been given is to run your own race. Never has that been truer than since becoming a mum. Other girls I know wanted to work up until their due date to take their mind off things, and others like me just need the time to take stock about everything that is happening.

We’re all amazing and doing a brilliant job, whether you’re a mum, a single mum or a professional just wanting that bit of time to restock. We need to build each other up, support each other and understand that we’re doing what is best for us and our family. I know that sounds cheesy but I really believe it – it’s such a positive decision to support and understand others around us, but one that makes a huge difference. Being true to yourself about how you are feeling in your pregnancy and what makes you happy, can only bring the best outcome for your family.

Did you need some ‘me’ time before your due date? I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments below.



  1. May 9, 2016 / 9:11 am

    I love this Bridget! <3 I especially love the advice to "run your own race" – that's so true and so beautiful!
    I left work a few days prior to my first son being born (he was 5 days late) and really enjoyed that extra time.

  2. May 9, 2016 / 11:35 am

    When I was pregnant I was actually doing a foundation degree and made the decision to leave as I was so exhausted and just could not concentrate on my work. So my pregnancy was spent away from the work place and I didn’t return to work until my daughter was three. I guess I did have a lot of ‘me’ time when I was pregnant, my ex worked and I had no other children. I was alone for pretty much the whole of my pregnancy. That’s quite sad really, thinking about it. Now I work from home, and I will probably continue to do so during my next pregnancy whenever that might be but with a child in school and the fact that because I work at home I won’t be having any maternity leave, instead working right up until I go into labour and probably getting back to it fairly quickly after I’m home. I did see the TV interview with the author and thought it was a bit selfish. Career breaks are fine for self development, a chance to try something new…but that’s what they are, they are for me time. This stupid ‘me’ternity thing is a load of bollocks.(sorry!) #kcacols

    • May 9, 2016 / 11:54 am

      Thanks for your comment – I totally agree, I also thought the ‘me’ternity thing was ridiculous. I was just making the point that different people need different things! All the best with your pregnancy x

  3. May 9, 2016 / 6:09 pm

    I can totally understand the need to have a bit of time for yourself before the baby comes along – in my experience there is precious little ‘me’ time once the baby arrives and that concept only started to re-emerge after my little boy turned one and it became clear that it needed to be a priority. That first year was just all about getting through it! I finished work at 36 weeks and that was just about right for me – I’d never judge anyone else whenever they decided to stop though, we’re all different! #KCACOLS

    • May 9, 2016 / 6:13 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment – I completely agree, everyone feels differently and what’s right for you 🙂 xx

  4. May 9, 2016 / 7:51 pm

    I left work at 32 weeks as well. It was at the beginning of December and I work full time on my feet all day and being in retail I just wanted to finish. I had saved 4 weeks holiday to take first before my maternity leave started. Then because my baby girl was 2 weeks late I actually ended up with 10 weeks off before she was born. I really needed that time for me and to get everything organised. I had been working full time since I was 18 and now at 33 I wanted that time to myself.
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  5. May 9, 2016 / 7:58 pm

    As it turned out, I only had a week before our little girl was born by emergency section. A week’s better than nothing but I could have done with another week or 2 of chilling! C’est la vie … #kcacols
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  6. May 10, 2016 / 8:08 am

    Popping back again from #KCACOLS, I just read through the post again. it’s a really great piece of writing xx

    • May 10, 2016 / 8:10 am

      Oh bless you, thank you for coming back! So sweet of you to say 🙂 xxx

  7. May 10, 2016 / 8:45 am

    Other people’s opinions can get right in the way can’t they?! I was working full time in London before my first and by 36 weeks I physically needed to stop to just have a rest – I am all for the ‘me time’ or whatever people want to call it and certainly wouldn’t feel uncomfortable expressing exactly why I took that month off before my daughter arrived – you shouldn’t have to justify it lovely #KCACOLS

    • May 10, 2016 / 8:52 am

      Absolutely – it’s your decision and you shouldn’t have to feel like you need to justify it! Thanks for reading lovely xx

  8. May 10, 2016 / 5:46 pm

    A baby coming into your family changes life far more than you think. It’s a complete 180 in your home, your schedule, your marriage, yourself, and your life. ‘Me’ time is so incredibly important, especially before welcoming a new child into your life. I don’t think people realize just how exhausting it all can get-and I don’t think that taking a few weeks to yourself is anything that needs to be explained <3 Thanks for sharing #KCACOLS

    • May 12, 2016 / 5:09 am

      Thank you for your lovely comment, it’s definitely not something that you should have to justify and everyone feels so differently during pregnancy so it’s about doing what’s right for you. Xxx

  9. May 10, 2016 / 7:31 pm

    I was very ill in my second preganacy and had a very extended maternity leave. Unfortunately I had a toddler and so I did not really get the rest I needed! I think having a bit of time to yourslef before baby comes along is reallly important. LIfe changes so dramatically after a baby – taking a deep breath before the bog chnage can only be a good thing! #KCACOLS

  10. May 12, 2016 / 3:27 am

    What works for one person may not work for someone else. You shouldn’t have to justify it. I had a very difficult pregnancy and was confined to my bed throughout the entire pregnancy so in a way, you could say I had 9 months of ‘me’ time.

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    • May 12, 2016 / 5:06 am

      I completely agree, everyone is different and no one should have to justify what’s right for them. Thanks for commenting.

  11. May 12, 2016 / 10:09 am

    I saw the article and thought the link to maternity leave was completely misguided and just trying to provoke…when actually (if I can get past the antagonistic nature of it) it does raise good point about a life balance and the fact that some people need time for themselves that is longer or somehow more embedded into their life than a week’s holiday for example.
    On the different subject of maternity leave (or pre baby maternity leave) I decided not to renew my contract three months before having my first child. It was a risk in lots of ways but I travelled about a bit, swam ALOT and tried to relax as much as possible. I can’t say if it made a difference to anything post-birth but it worked for me. I wanted to try and get in a zone! And also have a break between working and this other sort of working, parenting! Because no, like you say, maternity leave is most certainly not a holiday!! #KCACOLS
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    • May 12, 2016 / 11:43 am

      I totally agree with getting in the zone! It sounds like it worked well – I tried to do the same to prepare myself for post birth but no idea if it made a difference to coping with the chaos 🙂 thanks so much for your comment x

  12. May 12, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    Hello 🙂
    Personally, with my first pregnancy I worked up to 3 weeks before my due date, then my son kept us waiting for another 2 weeks. It felt like the right time – my boss had taken good care of me and provided cover for PE lessons as well as a good amount of handover time with the teacher taking over my class. Fast forward a few years and my new boss made life pretty tricky during my second pregnancy. I was virtually on my knees by the time I went, 4 weeks before my due date, and because I was so run into the ground I don’t think I was a very effective teacher any more by that point! Also, it was lovely to spend some good time with my husband and son before our daughter came along/burst onto the scene!
    x Alice

  13. May 13, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    With both my children I think I had about 5 or 6 weeks before they came along, using a combination of annual leave and maternity leave. I didn’t regret that at all, both times I was ready to stop dragging myself into the office and have some time at home! We are all different though, and our circumstances are different and I love your message here that we need to applaud those differences and support each other, rather than knocking each other down! x #KCACOLS

  14. May 14, 2016 / 11:20 pm

    Yes you are right! Having some “me time” before you are having a baby is actually very important. Although I must say that when you already have one baby and you are waiting for the second one the “me time” is pretty much vanished. It is not the same anymore. I wish we have more me time always actually not just when we are pregnant. It is just so much needed. 😉 I really like reading your post. You have a great point here. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. I’m so sorry for my late commenting. Thank you so much for all your commenting this week. You were amazing, 🙂 x

  15. August 12, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    I can see so many parallels here with you and me Bridie. I found it so hard to accept I was on mat leave at first, I would be checking my emails. Mat leave is all about bringing a baby into the world. To do that successfully you need to have time for you. You may have neglected you for the last 12 months but you need time to be yourself. Claire X #triballove
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