The FMLA and Maternity Leave

Before the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), no companies were required to give any sort of maternity leave, and many new mothers risked losing their jobs if they chose to take any time off with their newborns. In 1993, the FMLA was created so parents could "bond with or care for a [new or adopted] child" [source: U.S. Department of Labor].

The FMLA guarantees job security for new moms in companies with more than 50 employees during 12 weeks of unpaid leave. For smaller companies, maternity leave policy can vary widely, but most offer at least some sort of leave for new mothers. Those first weeks of bonding are critical, as you get to know your baby.

Unfortunately, heading back to work is a reality for most new moms. After 12 weeks, you've gotten to know your baby's every characteristic, and you're afraid you'll miss out on more fun to come when you return to the office. While it might feel like that transition would be easier at 13 weeks or 20 weeks, chances are it would be just as hard.

Let's look at some ways that you might be able to gain some more precious time with the newest member of your family.