Set aside the first couple of days just for immediate family. Dad can act as the family ambassador, answering the phone and so on, while Mom and Baby rest. Later, "Dad should be the point person for his family, and Mom for hers in order to minimize potential misunderstandings," adds Fay.
Encourage guests to bring food or other things to make the visits easier. Make sure the guests understand in advance the time they are welcome to stay. If family members are traveling a far distance, make plans ahead of time for a mutually agreeable way for them to stay. "Flexibility is the name of the game when you are bringing home a new baby," says Fay.
What style of parent are you? You might only have some vague ideas about how you will handle your new role or you might be passionate about your attitude and values. It's a good idea to get to know your partner's ideas about parenting before birth to avoid conflict in the early weeks.
Read a variety of books about parenting together and discuss topics that will arise. If the baby is crying, will you pick him up or let him cry it out? Are you planning on wearing your baby or co-sleeping? These types of endeavors usually work best if the whole family is on board. When opinions conflict, deal with the immediate needs of the baby first and choose a relaxed time to discuss the situation.
It's important to discuss the details of a maternity leave with your employer. Put all details of your leave in writing, then give a copy to your boss and retain one for your records. Include specifics such as when you plan to leave and return, what projects you will finish before leaving, and how you have prepared the work for your replacement. Set up a meeting with the person who will do your job in your absence to go over details and answer any questions. Include a list of all this prep work for your records. Make sure you have read over whatever company policies are in place regarding extended leaves and whether your state has any requirements that your company might qualify for.
As important, talk with your manager about how you will transition back into your job. Will your role remain the same? What projects on the horizon may be in full swing upon your return? Some women find that where colleagues (rather than temps or contractors) have filled in for them, there may be some reluctance to "give the work back." If you can get your return strategy in writing, all the better, but at the very least, discuss with your manager. You never know, this may be an opportune time to tweak—or advance—your position with the organization.
Whatever your job situation, open communication is your most effective strategy. According to the Federal Medical and Family Leave Act, employers with 50 or more on-site workers "must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period" for birth (or adoption) and care of the newborn child. Proactive planning for this leave shows you are trying to make the transition as smooth as possible.