We three authors have taken a total of eight maternity leaves among us, cared for many women medical students and physicians as prenatal patients, and talked informally with a large number of mothers in medicine about their own maternity leave experiences, both good and bad. Although some women in medicine plan as much as possible and others plan very little if at all in advance of a pregnancy, it can be helpful to start gaining general knowledge about maternity leave policies, procedures, and strategies as early as the pre-conception phase. Here we share tips and strategies for planning, taking, and returning from the “ideal” maternity leave as a woman in medicine.
In order to discuss maternity leave from medical school, training, or work, it is important to revisit the timing of an individual pregnancy in the context of a career in medicine. First, we discuss the pros and cons of taking a maternity leave during medical school, residency training, fellowship training, and beyond. While we provide some basic principles here, it is the specific circumstances and unique situation of each individual woman that will inform the optimal timing and details of an actual maternity leave.