HOW TO: Afford Maternity Leave in the United States

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Investigate Employee Benefits

While it’s true we live in a country that doesn’t require paid leave or even decent leave policies for new families, this isn’t across the board. Many states are setting their own paid leave laws and some innovative and supportive companies go way beyond the basics, offering actual decent maternity leave benefits. Ideally, research your own company’s benefits before you become pregnant. Some U.S. companies’ insurance policies offer a full six to eight weeks of full or partial pay for workers with an illness, but luckily, since the U.S. considers pregnancy a “condition” rather than an experience, new moms are often eligible too. Other companies offer Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs). Often people associate EAPs with dramatic events like drug counseling or therapy, but many EAPs do include benefits related to pregnancy assistance. Other workplace options to look into that may help you save money for leave time include flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or medical expense FSAs (sometimes called health care FSA). Both types of FSAs allow you to set aside pretax earnings for medical expenses and in some cases child care expenses.

+ Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Adoption Leave Statutes by State

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Use Your Home

If you own your home you may be able to take out a home-equity line of credit to help fund maternity leave time. If you’re eligible for a home-equity line of credit, a benefit is that you’ll have access to the money if you need it, but there are no requirements to use it if you end up not needing it.

+ What you should know about home-equity lines of credit (pdf)

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