Months, weeks, hours... How close to your due date did you work?

Some take a month off, others work until they have contractions…

Imagine your contractions are 2 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. You’re probably already at the hospital, or at least you’re on your way. Suddenly you remember it’s a Monday morning and you’re expected at your desk in half an hour. Argh!

I’m not certain I can think of anything worse than calling my boss, mid contraction, to say I won’t be coming in today.

Frankly, I would have finished work last Friday, at 24 weeks. I’m exhausted and my house is a mess. Despite the fact that my day job involves sitting at a desk for most of the day, I’m starting to wonder how much longer I can keep this up.

This begs the question, just how far up until your due date should you work?

To answer this question I of course turned to the internet. It would not surprise you that the answers varied from “stop working now, you crazy lady” to “you have to work until your waters break”.

Until your waters break? Really?

Apparently so.

A quick scan of parenting forums suggest it’s not unusual to work late into pregnancy and sometimes right up to your due date. Some women seemed to make working up until labour starts a point of pride. One commenter was at the office at 3pm with an induction scheduled for 9pm that night.

What’s the best option?

More often than not, though, women were saying they wanted to maximise their parental leave for after baby arrives. With most families relying on a dual income for their everyday lives, not to mention the cost of childcare this is not so surprising.

So what’s the best option?

Well, fairly obviously, the best option is one that takes into account your health, the health of your baby, your personal circumstances and your own preferences.


When you’re making your decision about when to stop working, you should consider the level of risk in your pregnancy. Your midwife or obstetrician will be able to give you the best answer from the perspective of your health and that of your baby. Most employers are great at looking after mums and mums-to-be. But it pays to know what your rights are.

Having a baby is a stress on family finances, there’s no doubt. Make sure you know what workplace leave you’re entitled to. If you need extra advice, you can check with your union, or with Fair Work Australia. While you’re thinking about it, make sure you get across policies around returning to work and staying in touch. This will help you when you come back to work.

Check with Centrelink and find out if you’re eligible for the Government’s Paid Parental Leave (and while you’re at it, check to see if your partner is eligible for the Dads and Partner Leave as well – it’s worth having all the support you can get when baby arrives).

If it’s your preference to work right through til your waters break, and you’re fit and healthy, then go for it. Long gone are the days of confining women to bed in a dark room for two months before birth. (And thank God for that!)

But if you’d prefer to spend your last few weeks of freedom pregnancy taking it easy, sipping lattes and doing some last-minute baby shopping, then you’ll be in excellent company.

Because that’s my plan!

How long did you take off work before you gave birth?

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