Maternity Leave in Canada


I stopped working to take (legally acceptable) advantage of the Canadian Unemployment Insurance System.

How Maternity Leave in Canada Works

Maternity leave in Canada works like this: a pregnant woman who’s worked a certain number of hours in the year prior to her pregnancy is entitled to 17 weeks of paid maternity leave followed by 35 weeks of paid parental leave. From what I understand, the difference is that maternity leave is for a woman’s healing and general well-being, while parental leave is for actual childcare. The 35-week parental leave is allowed to be split between two parents of the new child in any of the following combinations: I could take all 35 weeks while Poor Kyle continued to work, Poor Kyle could take all 35 weeks while I continued to work, we could each take 17.5 weeks while the other continued to work and then switch roles, or we could both take 17.5 weeks together.

I’m taking it all. For the record.

Poor Kyle would love to take some of the paid parental leave but his manliness (and fear of utter mockery at his guy-centric workplace) prevents it. For my part, I feel like nine months of growing and carrying this child entitles me to at *least* the next nine months off, and I’m perfectly fine with the extra three bonus months from the Canadian Powers That Be. The fact that these twelve months are actually paid is just a lovely little (okay, huge) cherry on top.

I’m not exactly certain but I believe in the United States women are only given 6 weeks of maternity leave (but maybe it varies from workplace to workplace). At any rate I feel like the luckiest girl in North America right now.


My last day of work was a week ago and I will admit it feels strange not going in every day. I thought it would be like summer vacation from school, but it feels completely different somehow. I guess it’s because I know my days of freedom are numbered. It’s only a matter of time (four weeks until our due date but even still I’m pulling for an early birth) before I will be sleeping in two-hour intervals and covered in sour breast milk from sunup to sunup to sunup, day after day after day. Summer vacation days too are numbered, but going back to school for another semester or two (or twelve, or even med school) is totally different than giving birth and being a parent forEVER.

Bigger commitment.

Anyway my mental state during any given day is usually one or more of the following:

• trying really hard to channel good vibes to get this baby to be born two weeks early
• making every attempt to avoid looking at any part of my face or body in a mirror because I don’t like what I see (denial is the best medicine)
• FREAKING OUT because of aforementioned big commitment and afore-aforementioned aversion to big commitments
• stressing over not having acquired the appropriate baby gear for the birth of the child (I’m not talking gadgety unncessary stuff like bottle warmers—I’m talking car seat, sleeping place, etc.)
• trying to sell George Jettson but also trying not to because then we’ll just have to stress about what vehicle to buy next, and no matter what it is it won’t be my $60,000 Volkswagen Touareg dream car so I don’t even care anymore
• wondering/half-stressing about our lowered income (the 12 months are paid, but only up to about half of my regular salary)
• crying (snot-nosed, shuddering, gasping-for-air SOBBING) at the strangest provocations, like the day I noticed two tiny drops of colostrum leaking out of my…well…just look it up okay?
• FREAKING OUT about labour and delivery
• FREAKING OUT about postpartum recovery (mainly the torn-to-shreds, constantly-bleeding-and-possibly-passing-giant-blood-clots-for-6+weeks-out-my-crotch bit)
• FREAKING OUT about breastfeeding (I am not nor will I ever be the kind of woman who thinks breastfeeding is “beautiful” or “a wonderful bonding experience.” It’s cheap and nutritious and that’s why I’m planning to try it. But it creeps me out and I hate the very thought of it.)

Basically it’s just a whole lot of freaking out and simultaneously trying to guilt my baby into being a good boy for mama and popping outta there early.

Also: my ankles are now cankles. My hands are swollen to the point of not being able to wring out a rag anymore. My back just aches all the dang time, chiropractor and massage therapist aside. My formerly-innie belly button is outing itself a little more each day. My backne is indefatigable.

These aren’t complaints; they are facts. I know I don’t have much right to complain because as far as pregnancies go, this one has been a walk in the park (knock on wood). I haven’t thrown up even once for heaven’s sake (knock on wood). So I’m trying hard not to complain. But I do intend to keep it real on this blog, and so you can trust I am being honest when I say that MY BACKNE IS NO JOKE.

And, before I sign off, for those of you who don’t already follow me on instagram and for those of you who care, this is what I look like now:

36 Weeks PregnantAlso noteworthy: I don’t really brush my hair anymore. Overrated.


About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
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7 Responses to Maternity Leave in Canada

  1. Jami says:

    K, I feel like I comment on your life a lot. Is that creepy? I don’t think the recovery is bad. I never passed any clot like crap. I thought breastfeeding was for the birds until Grace came out. Then I really liked it. I don’t think watching others is beautiful. But I really love my babies whiles they do it. But the main reason I do it, is because it is free. And because formula stinks. I hope you document your naked tub birth and post TONS of pictures…maybe even a video. :)

  2. DeAnna says:

    Breathe it will all work out! You may not see it now, but for having a month to go you are looking great! Watch the swelling, if you have read any prego books you know that too much swelling is not a good thing.

    I have had two polar polar opposite births. My 2nd birth was drug free, au naturale if you will. It was an quicker, easier recovery and a much happier experience over all. My 1st I had an epidural and more, it was not a good experience other than the baby boy part.

    And a note it is 55% of your Gross/before taxes pay so that should help lessen the stress. ;) My hubby used vacation time and took a week off after both my kids were born, let me have all the benefits of Mat & Parental leave.

    Best of luck to you!!!

  3. Geevz says:

    Yahoo on the benefits! That’s exciting! Pregnancy is hard no matter how “easy” the pregnancy. It’s a big change and stress on your body. I hope you can get relief the discomforts soon.

    You are not alone in your fears and I lots of those same freak outs. Babies and all those what-if’s are terrifying, but you are strong, smart, and awesome! You’ll be just fine. You are Camille! You’ve got this! Parts of labor and recovery can be terrible but every experience is unique. Whatever particular aspect that is rough, you’ll gain the strength to handle it. No matter what, labor and delivery end eventually. The recovery and sleepless nights end eventually. Just think, you made it through 8 months of pregnancy! You can do anything! The best part is that you will have a wonderful little fellow as a reward for surviving it all. It really is worth it.

    Whenever I worry about if I’m doing a good job parenting, I try and remember that some really screwed up parents have still produced some excellent individuals. Odds are my kids will turn out just fine even if I mess up fairly often. Not sure if you find the sentiment comforting, but it was intended to be :) You’ll find a way to make your new life work. Anything you want to make a priority, you can still do with a kid. It is an adjustment, but life with kids is way better than I could have imagined. I’m excited for you to experience it. Best of luck and thanks for posting a picture!

  4. Nain says:

    I was so there with you on all of that fear. It will all fall together, however. It’s amazing what you can do. I was petrified of the C-section, being scared of needles and well, surgery, but it was amazing the calm that came over me that morning. You can and will do this. And dude, I’m moving to Canada. My lame job required me to use vacation time for maternity leave and the remainder was unpaid. Good for you for taking all of that time!

  5. anna says:

    Just a quick comment on breastfeeding… I’m kind of a crazy breastfeeder (nursed both my girls until about 14 months), but it still creeps me out a bit. The thought of it weirds me out, but like you said, it’s free (kind of, I have to eat like a horse while I’m nursing) and the health benefits for both baby AND mom are fantastic.

    Good luck. This is what I tell myself when I’m pregnant and freak out about having to birth a baby: worst case scenario, they can just cut it out of you. :)

  6. Lisa says:

    Holy awesome maternity leave time! I am not even pregnant (nor thinking about it) but whenever I am, I will be super jealous of Canadians. Good luck with everything!

  7. Maureen says:

    That’s a nice amount of maternity leave! Working for the government, there is no maternity leave. It all comes out of acquired annual leave. So… I can have a kid and give all my leave to it, or I can keep it for myself. I think I’ll keep it : )

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