Pregnancy
33 weeks and 3 days pregnant

At this stage it is simply no longer possible to see the whole baby on a scan. The ultrasound scan cannot step far enough back to include the whole baby in a single view. Instead it is necessary to move the probe around, to examine one area at a time.

Most women want to wait as long as possible to start maternity leave, but you must make the decision that is right for you.

There is generally no risk in working up to the final month of your pregnancy. Like many women you may decide to work up to around 37 weeks, but, by this week you are highly likely to find it increasingly tiring. If you are feeling exhausted and think you want to start your leave sooner, speak to your manager without delay. Hopefully, he or she will be understanding, although legally a manager can insist that you give the full 28 days notice before you start your maternity leave. Be aware that if you’re struggling to cope with the discomforts of late pregnancy and decide to take sick leave during the last four weeks, your employer can also insist that you start your maternity leave early, from the time of your sick leave.

Another desirable option is to work flexi-time, so that you can travel at a less busy time and, if it’s possible with your type of employment, work from home sometimes to cut out some of the commuting.

Some of the regular tests you will have in the third trimester are designed to check for pre-eclampsia. A combination of high (or rising) blood pressure and protein in your urine can be an indication of pre-eclampsia; another sign of this condition is extreme swelling, particularly of the face and/or ankles.

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Your blood pressure will be monitored regularly at this stage as a high reading can be a sign of pre-eclampsia.

Will I have to give back my maternity pay if I decide not to return to work?

This is a little bit complicated, and it’s worth getting some legal advice.

In a nutshell, if you do not wish to return to work after your maternity leave, you must resign, and you must give the notice required by your contract. So, if you have an eight-week notice period, you must resign eight weeks before the end of your maternity leave. You can string this out a little by including unused holiday allowances.

If you don’t give your notice until the date you are due to return to work, you’ll theoretically be obliged to work out your notice period.

In terms of maternity pay, it’s really up to your employer. You do not need to return SMP (statutory maternity pay) if you resign. If you did, however, receive maternity pay beyond this, you’ll need to look at your contract. In most cases, you are legally obliged to repay contractually agreed maternity payments; however, many employers will not request this.

You are also entitled to be paid for outstanding holiday that has accrued during your maternity leave, which may reduce the sum you need to repay a little.

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