How To Take Maternity Leave When Self-Employed – What You Need To Know

Are you self-employed and pregnant? Are you wondering how to handle maternity leave when self-employed? Big news if you haven’t heard yet – I am pregnant! When I announced this news, I received many questions, especially ones revolving around what I am going to do for maternity leave since I am self-employed. I am very…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: March 7, 2024

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Are you self-employed and pregnant? Are you wondering how to handle maternity leave when self-employed?

Big news if you haven’t heard yet – I am pregnant!

When I announced this news, I received many questions, especially ones revolving around what I am going to do for maternity leave since I am self-employed.Maternity Leave When Self-Employed

I am very grateful for the life that I get to live, and I realize that I run a truly amazing business that will allow me to focus a lot of time on this next exciting part of my life.

That being said, there are so many things about maternity leave when self-employed that I want to talk about!!

One of the first things I thought about when I found out that I was pregnant was what am I going to do when it comes to running my business?

As a self-employed person who is currently pregnant, I am in charge of my own maternity leave – there’s no official blogger maternity leave, haha!

Yes, the Family Medical Leave Act gives employees in the United States up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.

However, that doesn’t exactly apply to me, as I want to take a self-employed maternity leave (there are a couple of states that do offer paid leave for self-employed workers, but that’s not the norm).

So, there are two things (okay, there are way more than two, but let’s start with the two below) to think about when you’re self-employed and pregnant:

  1. How will you afford to not work for several months while on maternity leave?
  2. How will you keep your business running while you are on maternity leave and ensure that you have something to come back to?

Sure, I don’t need permission to take time off, as I am my own boss. However, I want my business to continue to run successfully while I’m gone, and my blog is definitely something I want to come back to when I’m ready.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 10,000,000 people who are self-employed full-time in the U.S. I did some research, though, and found numbers to be as high as 50,000,000 people.

That is a lot of people who work for themselves!

And, I’m sure there are many more who want to be self-employed, but trying to decide how to handle insurance and maternity leave when self-employed may stop them from ever making the shift.

So, I know I’m not the only one trying to figure out what a self-employed maternity leave will be like.

Due to that, I am going to put my thoughts and loose plans here in this article, and perhaps we can all help one another out.

Now, I don’t know exactly how my maternity leave will go.

But, there are a few things I’m sure of. I know that the days and weeks around labor and delivery will be hard. I know I’ll want to soak up loving on my new baby and enjoy all of the moments.

And, I know I won’t want to be stuck to my computer trying to figure out how to keep my business going.



The issue with taking maternity leave when self-employed.

There are a lot of benefits of being self-employed, but there are some things you have to think about.

When you are self-employed, you most likely do not have paid vacation days or sick leave.

Depending on the type of business that you run, this can be hard. Taking maternity leave may mean that you will make no money for the length of time that you are not working.

This is the case for self-employed paternity leave as well. 

The issue here is that most self-employed people don’t have any kind of paid leave, whether that’s parental leave, sick days, vacation days, mental health days, and so on.


Do any states provide paid parental leave?

There are a few states that do offer some paid parental leave. The list is currently:

  • California
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C. 

They are all a little different, but for example, Washington state’s program gives self-employed parents up to $1,000 a week for 12 weeks.

There are different qualification rules for each state’s plan, and you may need to opt in before you can benefit from it. If you live in one of the states I listed, it may be wise to look further into this.

Plus, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon all are working towards passing paid parental leave as well.


Can you get maternity leave as a freelancer?

Depending on your business, you may be able to take maternity leave. After all, you are probably your own boss!

Now, whether or not it is paid leave really depends on a lot of factors, such as where you live.


How long is maternity leave when self-employed?

Maternity leave if you are self-employed is usually up to you, as there may not be any source of income while you’re not actively working.

For some, a person may only take a few days off, whereas others may take a full year.

You will have to look at your personal situation and see what is best for you, your family, and your business.

Here are my thoughts and your questions on maternity leave while self-employed.

At my baby shower when I was around 30 weeks pregnant.


What I love about my business.

Like I said above, I am very grateful that I get to run this business.

It will make going on maternity leave, even though I am self-employed, just a little bit easier.

No, it won’t be a normal maternity leave, but what is normal anyways?

I will be crafting my own “blogger maternity leave” haha!

Some of the great things about running my business are:

  • Much of my income is quite passive, meaning that I have written blog posts in the past that still generate income years later.
  • I have a flexible schedule, so I do not need to be logged in or working at certain times.
  • I do not have a commute and can work from wherever.
  • I am able to work ahead for many of the tasks that I have to do.

All of these things work to my advantage.

P.S. If you’re interested in running a blogging business, I recommend checking out my How To Start a Blog Free Course.


Getting ahead with work for my blog maternity leave.

Like always, I like to be ahead with work. But, one big thing I am working on for my maternity leave is to have all of my blog posts written and work finished well before and after the baby is born.

Well, not everything, but as much as I can.

The main thing is getting ahead on content. I am hoping to write enough content and have it scheduled so that I don’t have to write anything for several months after the baby is born.

I also want to have all partnerships planned out for the next several months, get to as many emails as I can, create email funnels, schedule out everything for social media that I personally need to do, and more.

This will be a big feat, but it will be a lifesaver once I am done!


Do I still plan on working?

Knowing myself, I know that I will most likely still work while I am on my self-employed maternity leave.

I absolutely love running Making Sense of Cents, helping readers, and growing my business.

However, I am hoping to have everything that can be completed in advance out of the way. My plan is to only focus on projects that need me at the moment. These are things like the group coaching feature that I offer for my courses, being active in my course groups, partnerships, and so on.

I plan on still giving my focus and attention to those who need me, of course! I simply just have to prioritize.

If something can be done ahead of time, then I will for sure attempt to get that done so that it will be one less thing to worry about while I’m trying to take a maternity leave when self-employed.

I will be cutting back my hours significantly, which shouldn’t be too difficult as I have spent the last several months working ahead and lining things up as much as possible.


Will I still answer emails while on maternity leave?

Okay, so one thing many of my readers know about me is that I enjoy answering reader emails, and I spend a lot of time doing so.

However, I realize that when I have a newborn, I simply will not have the time to personally answer thousands of emails.

Due to that, for what I think may be the first time ever, I will be setting up a premade email that goes out to everyone.

It won’t be a typical out-of-office message, though. Instead, it will be something long and helpful, to direct readers to answers for some of the most common questions I receive. That way, my readers aren’t left hanging.


Do I have anyone helping me while on self-employed maternity leave?

Of course!

I still have an editor and a virtual assistant.

My virtual assistant helps me with all of the day-to-day tasks so that I can focus on the tasks that need me. She will still handle emails for my course students, tech support emails, forwarding me very important/urgent emails, and so on. Other tasks that she handles include:

  • Managing promoting/sharing new blog posts as they go live
  • Scheduling content on social media
  • Managing and moderating my Facebook groups

And much more.

My editor is helping me get ahead with content, which is a huge deal as I am talking about many, many months worth of content. I am hoping to have content ready and scheduled for about two months before I give birth, as well as for a couple of months after the baby is born. That is a lot of content, and it’s a lot of editing!

And, I also have other contractors that I work with, such as someone who handles the technical side of Making Sense of Cents (making sure my website is live and there are no issues!).

All of these people help Making Sense of Cents run smoothly, and I know that I can count on them. I’m glad I set this all up years ago as it helps my blogging business run quite smoothly.


What resources am I currently using?

There are many resources that I have been learning from to help me with maternity leave when self-employed. There are so many things to learn, and it can be very overwhelming.

I highly recommend checking out the New Mama Money Plan. I have read this from beginning to end already. Some of the topics discussed include:

  • How to create a budget for your baby’s first year (this include what you will need, common medical expenses and estimating birth costs, and more)
  • Maternity leave
  • Planning your baby registry
  • Understanding your insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Estate planning

And more! This is a great resource for anyone who is about to be a new parent.

I’m also taking one of the birthing courses from Mommy Labor Nurse, reading Expecting Better by Emily Oster, and soaking up as much information as I can.

Okay, most of those things are just about having a baby, not specifically maternity leave when self-employed, but they are still important to mention!

Related: Best Baby Gear – Guide For New Parents


Other factors to think about.

Now, I realize that everyone runs a different type of business. Some other things to think about, depending on the type of business that you run may include:

  • Set something up with your clients. If you have clients, then I have heard of many business owners working ahead as much as possible, and getting work set up for when they have completed their maternity leave. This can be a great way to guarantee income. While it will require more work upfront from you to make up for missed income months, it can be a way to not miss out on any income.
  • Create a savings fund. I have heard of many self-employed parents create a savings fund that is specifically money they have set aside for the months they are not working during maternity and paternity leave. This can help take some of the stress off of you, as you know that you will be able to afford it.
  • Find ways to make passive income. If you have the time, finding passive income ideas can help you to make money while on parental leave, without having to dedicate as much time towards it. There are many options too and you can learn about them at 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More.
  • More money talks with your partner. Because maternity leave when self-employed will affect your partner too, it’s important to have some serious conversations about how you can work together. Maybe that’s creating a stricter budget, paying down high-interest rate debt, or them helping you work ahead.
  • Short-term disability policies. Because pregnancy counts as a pre-existing condition, you may be able to take advantage of a short-term disability policy. They won’t work for everyone, so do your research. It will also take some long-term planning because you will probably have to pay into a plan for several months in advance before you can use it for maternity leave when self-employed.
  • Have a plan for going back to work. Your life will be very different once your baby is born, and figuring out how to go back to work is just as important as how to take a maternity leave when self-employed. Think about things like childcare, which clients and tasks will take priority when you get back, and so on.
  • Hire someone to manage your business. This could be someone like a virtual assistant who answers emails and keeps day-to-day things running smoothly while you’re away. Or, maybe you hire another freelancer to take over your work for you.
  • Be easy on yourself. I’m already learning that having a child means I need to be easy on myself. There will be times when you get it right, but there will also be times when you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. That’s a lot to handle when you’re worrying about your baby and your business. 

Related content: 15 Delicious, Easy Freezer Meals For New Moms & Dads


My maternity leave when self-employed – in conclusion

In the end, I realize that not everything goes as planned. It is a baby after all! I have no idea how I will feel before, during, and after, so my plans are quite loose.

This baby may come early or late, or she might get here right on the due date.

I’m hoping that I will wrap everything up about a month in advance. That way I can simply tie up loose ends as my due date gets nearer and hopefully spend a little time relaxing as well!

I am quite lucky in that I run a very flexible online business.

I also have a wonderful husband who will be by my side through it all and who will be there to split all of the work with me.

What questions do you have for me? Do you think I’m forgetting anything? Do you have any tips for paternity or maternity leave when self-employed?

Recommended reading:

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Ashley

    I was lucky in that my son was born a week before Christmas, and my daughter was born during the summer. I was a violin teacher, and those were both time periods that many students tend to take a break, and many teachers, too. So I took the month of December off when my son was born, and took the summer off when my daughter was born. Actually, I tried to restart teaching in January, just a couple months after my son was born, and ended up having to cancel lessons and take a few more weeks off. Luckily, as I taught kids, all my students’ parents had gone through the whole “bringing a new child home” transition, they were very forgiving.

    I knew I would need to do less teaching after my son was born, so the natural atrophy that occurs when you take a break was actually appreciated. In addition, I had recently moved my teaching studio to my house in a more rural area, from an office I’d rented in a city, so that also caused me to lose some students. Between the more remote location, and having a baby underfoot, I lowered my rates. All this caused a pretty significant drop in income for me, but it was so worth it and I don’t regret how I did things. If anything, I would have cut things back even more.

    I wish you sleep and calm as you embark on this journey of motherhood. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! It will be an interesting time for me, haha 🙂

  2. The only person a self-employed mother-to-be is accountable to in this case of entrepreneurship is herself, right? 🙂

  3. Hi Michelle,

    It was an amazing article! Since all the teams and working remotely, giving and taking maternity leave has become difficult. Someone from my network faced a lot of issues when she asked about maternity leave while working remotely. I can only assume, how tough it must have been for you. Although you are in charge which is great, I think I can understand the problems you will be facing. I am glad that you are helping other women at this time. It will be a great help for many women. I appreciate all your efforts and strength.

  4. Emily

    I am doing something of the same interest and will be taking note on this .Thank you.

  5. Tisha

    I’ve been following your blogging journey for a while, congrats on the new edition!

  6. Hello Michelle,

    I so much love how you simplified maternity leave for the self-employed.

    I so much love your perspective to this.

    My wife and I are self-employed and I’m pretty certain she would like to take her maternity leave when the time comes.

    I’m definitely sharing this article with her.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    – Emenike