General Question

preggers's avatar

When is the best time to take paternity leave?

Asked by preggers (293points) April 30th, 2009

My husband and I are trying to plan the best time for him to take his paternity leave. But seeing as how this is our first child, we’re unsure when his time and presence will be most needed.

Both of our parents think he should take the full first three months off. That seems like a bit much to both of us. We think they are just being over-protective of their future grandchild.

Whereas his co-workers seem to be workaholics and at the other extreme, taking very little time off. (Though their HR recommends taking off three months as well.)

We’d ask friends and family, but we’re the first of our siblings and friends to be having a kid.

Dads: When did you take your paternity leave?
How long did you take for your paternity leave?
When did you feel your time/presence was most needed?

Moms: When did your partner take their paternity leave?
How long did they take their paternity leave?
When was their time/presence the most needed/critical?

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17 Answers

miasmom's avatar

My brother had paternity leave and he took off the first two weeks after each child was born. I think the first two weeks are the toughest for getting adjusted to having a baby, etc. That’s when you’ll be the most uncomfortable and not want to do alot of anything. Will you have any extra help? Friends/family? Because you should take that into consideration to when determining how much paternity leave your husband will need.

My husband didn’t get paternity leave, but he did end up takng off the first two weeks to help me and then my mom and his mom alternated helping me after that.

I think that if you don’t have any help, you might consider about a month, but if you do have help it could definitely be less time. I think most new moms are able to handle it after a month on their own. But again, each situation is unique.

Is his work flexible, meaning, they would be ok if he budgeted a month, but then decided he needed more or less time?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Wish Paternity leave was available to us, but it wasn’t.

I’m a SAHM, so I was home during my pregnancy. I needed the most help right away. If you’re thinking you only want your husband with you for a few weeks, make certain it’s at least for the first two weeks.

I’d say you need at least a month home with the baby. All three if you are having complications with your pregnancy.

casheroo's avatar

When did your partner take their paternity leave? He didn’t. He worked the day I gave birth, because they wouldn’t give him off. But, his day job let him have a week off, so I was only alone with the baby at night, not for too long of periods. It was rough, but I enjoyed every moment with my son
How long did they take their paternity leave?
When was their time/presence the most needed/critical? I found it most critical in the middle of the night. My husband would help me with the bottle making, while I was still trying to get our son to breastfeed. I did the majority of the parenting though, because my husband worked 60–80 hours a week.

My mother took off three weeks, after I had my son. While I really appreciated it, I ended up not really needing her help. I enjoyed her company a lot, and she would make me my meals..which was awesome. But, I still stayed at my place, only going to my parents during the day.

Word of advice: sleep when the baby sleeps, ALWAYS I swear, I didn’t have a clean place until my son was 4 months old, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My husband helped out with laundry, and did a majority of the other cleaning..usually because I’d sleep whenever our son would. If I didn’t, I would have lost my mind.

ubersiren's avatar

Wow, three months would be friggin sweet! If you can do it, do it. My husband took off 2 weeks after the baby was born (all he was allowed), but the planning was easy because I was induced and knew when exactly the baby would be coming. If you have other family to help out for a while, it might even be best if your husband stayed at work until those other resources run dry. Similarly to @casheroo I absolutely needed my husband while we were jumping the breastfeeding hurdles. He was also the best husband for making me all my meals because I had painful c-section recovery. Also, take her advice about sleeping while the baby sleeps. Your visitors are not going to judge you for a messy home, but you need your rest. Sleep as much as possible!! Even in the hospital- leave the wee babe in the nursery whenever possible.

janbb's avatar

My husband took off the first week after both our kids were born; two weeks to a month would have been great. It’s hard to tell how long you will want/need him around. My son and his wife are having their first in June; since they are both in academia, they are planning to have most of the summer to care for baby together.

Is there a financial downside to his taking off for three months? Do you like most of your time together? Are you planning to breastfeed?

I would think 6 weeks to 2 months would be ample; three months could be lovely depending on your relationship and the damage it might do to his career. If you have some flexibility it would be good to be able to see how long you both need/want but I agree with everyone that when you are first home is the most important. (We had a lovely routine of nightly pina coladas after my second son was born.)

Enjoy as much as possible this special time and rest whenever you can!

wundayatta's avatar

I think I was given three days, although maybe I took some vacation time, too. I used it from before birth (her labor was one of the longest in the known universe, and while I was nowhere near as exhausted as she was after our daughter was born, I had about as much energy as a jellyfish on sand) until it ran out. Maybe a week. After that my mother came, and then, maybe her mother.

My wife needed the most help early on. I think with our son, we considered having a doula, and I think we had a visiting nurse. She really needed help that time, because she got the post-partum blues thing (although we didn’t know that was what was happening at the time).

Anyway, I think we’re needed the most at the beginning, to help with all kinds of things—changing diapers, calling doctors and nurses, getting answers to questions, getting the baby out of the crib when she cried, and doing as much as we can to take the burden off our wives.

cak's avatar

During my pregnancy with my daughter, I was in labor (being induced) for 72 hours – and I still required a c-section – at 10:15, that night. My husband was there that evening, he went right back to work that next day, my mother stayed for 2 weeks. He told me he didn’t get paternity leave. He lied. Any surprise we’re divorced?

In my pregnancy and c-section with my son, my husband took the day before I delivered off and the following 2 weeks. The following month, he took 2 more week and the third month of my son’s life, he took two more weeks off. I loved that plan, it worked for him and he got to see a lot of things that he would have missed, otherwise.

filmfann's avatar

Three months at the start sound perfect.
You will have no sleep for the first 6 weeks. The baby sleeps about 2 hours, eats, poops, then sleeps for 2 hours again. This goes on for an unbelievably long time.
Figure your parents might know what they are talking about.

sdeutsch's avatar

I have some good friends who just had a baby, and I thought they worked out a really good system with the maternity/paternity leave.

They were each allowed three months off of work, so she took the three months after the baby was born. He, on the other hand, took the first two weeks off, and then once she went back to work, he stayed home one day a week, and spread his leave out over the next several months. It worked out really well because they didn’t have to spend as much on day care (she worked from home one day a week, so they only needed day care three days out of five).

I know they both would have liked him to be home for a couple more weeks after the baby was born, but it worked out well in the long run…

YARNLADY's avatar

I would suggest that he talk it over with his supervisor and see if he can get a good idea how the company feels about it. My son also has three months coming, but I don’t think he should take more than three weeks, from the day the baby is born. With so much unemployment these days, showing you care about your job is important.

augustlan's avatar

For each of my three children, their father took a week off after the births. We did not allow either of our mothers to stay with us (they could visit, but not stay), and it was a wonderful time for us. We spent the first several days just lying in our big bed with the baby. I think it’s just as important that the baby and father get a chance to develop that bond in the first few days as it is for the baby and mother to do so.

For our first child, one week proved to be just fine with me. Since my second child came just 15 months after the first, and the third 2 years after the second, more time would have been preferable after their births, but not feasible for us at the time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

When my first son was born, his father had no paternity leave and my mother and myself took care of the baby
When my second son was born, my current spouse was already laid off so inadvertantly he had all the paternity leave he wanted (his past job was going to give him 2 weeks) I went to work and he’s a stay at home dad…

in terms of what I would advise for you, you WILL NEED HELP and 3 months IS NOT A LOT!!!! have him take all the paternity leave he can get paid for…believe me

preggers's avatar

@EVERYONE That was incredibly helpful for me to read through all of your responses. Thanks for taking the time to reply—you guys are awesome! Lurve!

@miasmom That’s a good thing to look into. It would be nice to know if there’s room to be flexible!

@ubersiren Exhausting the front lines (family) before sending in the brigade (dad) sounds like a good idea! Though I’m also concerned about bonding time for them. (Not just when I’d need a second hand to help, but when it would be most critical for father and child to bond.)

@janbb His HR department told him that he gets three months of paternity of leave. I’m assuming that means that it’s paid, but I should definitely double check. I would love to spend the entire three months with him. But I think that would be a bit stressful to be gone from work that long. Even if it is paid, it’s not exactly as if time would stand still at work. He’d be returning to a lot of work and projects to catch up on (on top of the stress of being a new father). As for breastfeeding, yes. Would that affect his paternity leave as well? (Now, you’ve got me quite curious!)

@daloon It’s nice to get a father’s perspective too. =)

@cak I really like the idea of spreading it out! That way he won’t be so out of the loop at work. It seems to balance getting too tired (like daloon’s comment) and not being as needed (like casheroo’s mother). Plus he’ll get to experience more of it. =)

@filmfann We definitely asked our parents. But I think their opinion is a bit biased, as they’re probably over-protective of their future grandchild. Three months sound great, but there seems to be other things to consider too!

@sdeutsch The spreading out idea is sounding really good!

@YARNLADY His HR seems to be pushing for three months. I wonder if that’s related to the economy? Kind of like company-wide ‘holidays’. I know what you mean though. What you get is different than what you should actually take. We’re trying to gauge a good inbetween.

@augustlan You didn’t take more time after your second and third child because they were so close together. But would you have wanted the option? Or was it easier the 2nd and 3rd time around? (Less paternity leave needed.)

@Simone_De_Beauvoir We’re trying to be reasonable here. But three months is sooooo tempting!

janbb's avatar

In some ways the second and thrid child are harder and you need more help, because there is another child (or two) that someone needs to pay attention to. Having two parents around for a time then is really important, but the babycare part is a little more relaxed usually.

I’m not sure why I asked about breastfeeding since I answered to question a few weeks ago, but I think I was wondering who would be feeding the baby in the night. Even if you are breastfeeding, it’s nice to trade off being the one who gets up and gets the baby and changes him/her afterward. In which case, you have two seni-functional people stumbling about during the day!

I am at the other end of this cycle since my first grandson will be born in about a month. It will be interesting to hear more about parenting issues from the next generation; some the same and soem different from the ones we faced.

preggers's avatar

@janbb Congrats on your soon-to-be grandmotherhood!

cak's avatar

@preggers I lurve it when the questioner really takes the time to respond! Lurve to you!

augustlan's avatar

@preggers I would have definitely liked more time with the second child at the very least. I had a 15 month old toddler and a newborn! Both were in diapers, both in cribs and car seats… the whole deal. Both need tons of attention, and it was quite difficult to care for them both alone at first. I hardly left the house for months. At least I was done nursing the first one before the second one came. ;) Since I waited a little longer for the third, it wasn’t as big of an issue when she came along. The actual infant care is definitely easier with additional children… you’re just so much more relaxed about things, and you know what you’re doing.

Whatever you all decide to do, it will be the right thing for your family… everything will be ok. :)

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