- As a freelancer, I panicked about how to take maternity leave once my baby was born.
- I started saving extra money as soon as I found out I was pregnant.
- I wasn't able to get a short-term disability plan ahead of pregnancy because I didn't know about it.
A few months into my pregnancy, I started to panic that once the baby was born, my career would end. For the past seven years, I've been a full-time freelancer and content creator. Since I don't work for a company, I realized that I wouldn't have any maternity leave. Without any paid time off, I'd have no choice but to work as much as I could while also taking care of my newborn.
When I started researching options, I realized that if I had planned ahead of time, there were ways that I could have received a traditional maternity leave, even as someone with an untraditional career.
So if you're someone who is curious about how to get maternity leave or get additional paid time off, whether you're self-employed or work for a company, here are different options to explore.
Get a short-term disability plan before you get pregnant
One of the first options I wish I explored was taking out a short-term disability insurance policy. Depending on the plan you select, this insurance can provide 40% to 70% of your salary for a set time before and after you give birth.
Some employers offer these policies as a benefit, but you can also purchase a policy on your own too. However, you can't receive paid family leave from your job and use this policy at the same time.
As a freelancer, I could have taken out this policy on my own to receive the benefits. But I didn't know about this option until I was already pregnant, and at that point, I didn't qualify for coverage since pregnancy can be considered a preexisting condition.
Some states, like New York and California, offer paid family leave, which allows employees to take paid time off for a set amount of weeks, even if this benefit isn't offered to them through their employer.
For example, New York offers up to 12 weeks of paid family leave at 67% of a person's pay.
Depending on the state, self-employed people are also eligible for state-funded paid family leave. However, in New York, for example, they have to purchase a Paid Family Leave policy, at least two years before they plan to use it.
Negotiate with your employer or clients
It can be really tough to have a newborn and even think about the day you have to return to work. If you feel like you need more paid time off, see if you can negotiate with your employer or with your clients.
If you're an employee of a company, ask to chat with your boss and see if you can not only use vacation days from this year but also borrow days from next year so you can extend your maternity leave.
If you're self-employed, and offer a service, see if you can push or stagger deadlines over a longer-than-usual period of time. That way, you can still retain your clients and receive payment while stretching out due dates for projects and work.
Another route you can take is to hire temporary help, whether it's a virtual assistant or a freelancer, who can keep up the services you offer while you take time off. That way, income can still flow into the business, and you can satisfy the needs of clients.
Start saving ASAP
Whether you're self-employed or an employee at a company that's not offering you any additional paid time off, start saving money as soon as you can. If possible, you can use that cash reserve to help fund extra days, or weeks, of unpaid leave.
You can also tap into that saved-up money to help with easing into childcare if you're able to start going back to work part-time and can bring on someone to watch the baby for a few hours a day to start.
While this might not be a viable option for everything, having extra cash in your emergency fund could end up coming in handy for many different reasons once the baby arrives.
NOW WATCH: Popular Videos from Insider Inc.