While you may be nursing swollen ankles, and trying to navigate the big bump your third trimester suddenly sprouts out, going on maternity leave may seem like a little way off.

However, the chances of your baby arriving on the due date are slim; according to the National Childbirth Trust, only 5% of babies arrive on their due date. This could have something to do with the fact that pregnancy is measured from the date of your last period, even though the conception could have taken place at any time in the weeks after it.

Start planning in the third trimester – latest

So, it makes sense to start planning for your maternity leave as soon as you enter the third trimester of your pregnancy. Giving yourself three months to write your handover notes, and enough time to inform your colleagues of important details takes the stress off the last few weeks leading up to your leaving date.

Look super organised

Research shows that there is no such thing as the ‘mummy brain’, but while your colleagues may not have got the newsflash, pregnant or not, it does get wearisome when any colleague can’t stay focused on their work…especially when it has an impact on other people.

This is where your handover notes can have a huge impact. You’ll look very organised, professional and that will leave a lasting impression when (or if) you return to work.

Don’t leave room for backstabbers

If you have colleagues who have always tried to trip you up professionally, or are interested in your role, then you really do need to make sure your handover is water tight.

Write all the important details down, and add the little details that you think only you are interested in in an appendix at the back of your man handover notes. If there is any history on a particular project or client, make sure you include it, so that you leave no ammunition for your arch enemies to throw against you in your departure.

Be thorough

Let clients know who they can contact in your absence. Don’t just assume that your email out of office notice will be enough. Put yourself in their shoes: On Friday, you were speaking to your main contact as usual; you send an email to the main contact to follow up your conversation the following Monday and you get an out of office message saying your contact is on maternity leave. It doesn’t look good does it? Especially if you’re in the middle of an important phase in a project, or if you need something done urgently – it just creates panic.

Clients who panic often reel off toxic emails to senior personnel, and that won’t put you in a good light with your colleagues or management. Communication is key.

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