Maternity Leave

It is a joy to care for you during your pregnancy.  We know that as you get closer to delivery, lots of questions often come up regarding maternity leave.  As your OBGYN provider, we are involved in completing paperwork for your employer about your leave.  It’s important to help you understand the process and expectations regarding leave because it is often confusing or there is mixed information.

How much medical leave will I be given when I have a baby?  Recovering from childbirth takes some time.  Medical leave paperwork asks your provider to determine how much time your need to be medically out of work.  The standard recovery time from a vaginal birth is 6 weeks and for a c-section, it’s 8 weeks.  We know that you want to spend more time with your little one than 6-8 weeks which is why many employers cover additional leave time through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML).  However, from a disability perspective, we will complete medical forms with 6 weeks for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a c-section.

My employer offers up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave.  Can Bedford Commons OBGYN complete my form to allow for 12 weeks of paid medical leave?  Honestly, we want you to be home with your baby as long as possible.  However, when we are completing these forms, we need to actively answer the question of how long do you need to be “medically incapacitated”, meaning home to recuperate from having your baby.  Unless there are medical complications with your recovery after your baby is born, we need to be consistent in our medical leave requests, regardless of how much time an employer may offer.  It is not uncommon that new parents are told that if the doctor allows it, additional time will be given.  That is true if there is a medical indication for extended leave but that is quite uncommon.

How is bonding time different?  The State of Massachusetts offers 12 weeks to bond with a child, regardless of parents’ gender.  New Hampshire PFL allows for up to 8 weeks of bonding time in the first 12 months of having a child.  Unlike in Massachusetts where it is a state benefit, in New Hampshire PFL is optional so you may or may not have access to the benefits.  Employers can opt in for New Hampshire PFL or individual employees can opt in.  In both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, bonding time is different than the medical leave discussed above.  Bonding time is completed specifically by the employee (you) and does not require our office to complete any paperwork.  The paperwork must be filed after the medical leave portion is filed.  

Please know that we know adjusting to a new baby and sleepless nights are tricky.  We also know that precious time with your little one is priceless.  Talk to your employer about if you qualify for FMLA leave (up to 12 weeks total including the 6-8 weeks of medical leave) to allow for some extension of your leave.

Dealing With Your Period At School

I hate periods – they are a necessary evil in life but I still don’t have to like having my period.

When I was in middle school, I used to feel very anxious about having to open up a pad in the bathroom. It felt like everyone around me would know I had my period because of the sound it made when I ripped it open. My mom, like all moms, told me not to worry about it. She told me that having a period was a normal part of growing up and that if I talked to my friends about it, I would understand that everyone around me was feeling the same way. There was nothing that I wanted to do less than mention my period to my friends…gross.

Because I hated the sound that pads made when I opened them, I started piling toilet paper on top of my pad so I would just have to change the toilet paper instead of having to change my pad. This is NOT a good idea. Pads are made in a special way that makes them extra absorbent; toilet paper is not. One of the tips that I give to my patients is to open the pad at home (to get that sound out of the way). Most pads have a little piece of tape on the outside that will keep them closed and clean once they have been opened up. If someone had given me this advice when I was in middle school, I think things would have been easier.

The other tricky thing for me was…where do I put this pad? I didn’t want to carry it in my pocket in the event it fell out. At my school, we weren’t allowed to carry backpacks or purses so I didn’t really have any great options. One of my friends (see, I did talk to someone about my period) suggested putting it in my lunchbox. This is a great suggestion because I was able to stop at the bathroom on my way to lunch without anyone knowing anything!

Young women and parents often ask me when girls can start using tampons. Once you start to have your period, you can start using a tampon. There’s no specific age that I’d recommend starting tampons. They come in different sizes (just like pads) depending on how heavy your period is. It’s important that you use the smaller tampons for lighter days and the larger tampons for heavier days. Many girls feel that tampons eliminate some of the anxiety of having your period at school because they are smaller to carry. Some tampons are the size of your pinky finger (which includes the applicator) so they can easily be carried in the palm of your hand.

When I reflect back on middle school and the first months of having my period, I think my mom was probably right. I was not the only middle-schooler worrying about my period. I think it would have been helpful to talk to my friends about their period woes over potato chips and chocolate.