Maternity leave can be a magical time for a new mom (and moms of multiple kids). It can also be fraught with financial and emotional strain. Many moms are learning how to make money on maternity leave to cover their bills.
Although spending your maternity leave focusing 100 percent of your energy on your newborn may sound wonderful, not all moms can do that.
Due to high living expenses and other factors, you might need to learn how to make money while on maternity leave.
It’s not always possible to work full-time while you’re getting to know your little one. But even making a little money before going back to your regular job could help ease the pressure on your budget.
Why you might need to make money on maternity leave
In a perfect world, every mom would get plenty of time to spend with her newborn baby before heading back into the office.
Bonding with a new baby, getting the hang of breastfeeding or bottle feeding, and catching whatever sleep you can is more than enough to fill up the time during maternity leave.
But we know in the U.S., it’s a pipe dream for many moms. A startling percentage of American workers don’t have access to paid maternity leave, and some don’t even get unpaid leave. That’s why having a child is one of the major life events that impact your finances.
Types of leave and statistics about maternity leave
There are various types of leave, such as family leave, paid sick leave, or short-term disability coverage. Unfortunately, many moms don’t get any financial coverage to stay home with a new baby.
As American Progress notes, 57% of private sector employees don’t have short-term disability insurance through an employer. Plus, over 76% don’t have the option for paid family leave, which is used for maternity leave as well as other family-related medical care.
And let's not forget about hourly workers and contract workers. Plenty of moms fall into those categories, and their employers don't always have to offer benefits like maternity leave.
According to federal law, you must give 12 weeks of unpaid leave if an employer has 50 employees or more than 50, as Business News Daily explains.
But that's just reassurance that your job will be waiting for you after 12 weeks, and not any kind of financial benefit to get you through them.
Currently, U.S. law doesn't require paid family or medical leave, which is why so many postpartum mothers need help. If you’re worried about how to make money on maternity leave, you do have some options.
26 Ideas for how to make money on maternity leave
While I hope that Americans’ access to paid family and medical leave improves, moms today need to figure out their own solutions.
If you’re able to take unpaid maternity leave without losing your job, these are some ways to make money from home.
1. Buy short-term disability insurance (if possible)
This first tip might not work for everyone, as you really have to be planning ahead. But if you can know far enough in advance when you might be pregnant or adopt a child, you could possibly open a short-term disability policy.
Some employers offer this, so if you get that already, you’re fortunate. But many workers can supplement their income by paying for short-term disability insurance before they need it.
For example, companies like AFLAC sell short-term disability coverage. If you know a couple of years before you plan to have a baby, you could take out a low-cost plan that pays you back once you’re on maternity leave.
Be sure to calculate the cost against the benefits carefully. Under the right circumstances, you could get a significant payment from the insurance provider to help you cover your bills.
2. Open a high-yield savings account
A high-yield savings account could be useful while on maternity leave if you already have savings you don’t need to touch yet. It’s not going to make up for lost income but could ensure you make money off your savings.
Opening an interest-bearing savings account can help you keep emergency savings accessible without sacrificing all of your returns.
3. Trim your budget
Next up, be sure to take a look at your budget. How much you spend each month is important, as that impacts how much money you need to earn.
If you don’t have paid leave or a partner covering expenses, try to cut some costs.
Many of us have a few areas where we can reduce our spending. Clothing, dining out, and entertainment might be good places to start.
If you can drop any of your recurring or variable expenses, that’ll lower the shortfall you face during maternity leave.
Of course, a tricky aspect of this goal is that having a baby increases your overall expenses.
Even the most frugal of parents still need a baby budget. Diapering supplies, formula, increases in insurance costs, and more will impact your finances.
This is why it’s so important to streamline your budget wherever possible. Every little bit can help.
4. Become a virtual assistant
Virtual assistant (VA) work is a great option for a mom on maternity leave because you set your own schedule.
Virtual assistants can also decide which tasks they’re willing to take on for clients, so you can tailor the job to your talents and interests.
Becoming a VA can include doing tasks like social media management, email management, data entry, customer service, and more.
VA work may be a good fit for how to make money on maternity leave thanks to its flexibility. You can work from your home and set your hours (or work a few minutes at a time, as the baby allows!).
5. Be a social media manager
One arena of tasks that can be part of a VA’s schedule is handling social media for clients. Whether you’re an expert in Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or all of the above, there are clients who need those skills.
Plenty of businesses now rely on at least one social media platform to draw in customers, so social media managers are essential! Plus, you can score fairly flexible hours and take on just as much work as you want.
6. Make money on maternity leave by freelance writing
You’ve probably heard through the grapevine of at least a few people making money via freelance writing. Writing can be a side gig or even become a full-time gig if you wish.
While on maternity leave, even just one or two clients for freelance writing work could help make up for any lost income. Writing blog posts or social media content is one way to go.
If you have a journalistic background you might also write for magazines or newspapers.
7. Try freelance bookkeeping
If you’re more of a numbers-minded woman rather than language-oriented, you might start a freelance bookkeeping business. Companies of all sizes employ bookkeepers who manage their financial accounts.
Bookkeeping isn’t as complex as accounting, so it’s easier to break into the field even with zero experience. If you can be organized and pay attention to detail, you can likely learn the skills to be a freelance bookkeeper.
8. Become a freelance proofreader
There are a ton of options for freelancing, including freelance proofreading. If you constantly find yourself correcting people’s written errors, proofreading might be just the maternity side hustle for you.
9. Write and sell an e-book
Now, this suggestion is not one that you can expect to simply do in a few hours and start raking in cash.
However, if you have writing skills and an interest in putting in real effort, writing an e-book to self-publish could earn you some extra income.
Perhaps this is the type of work you could do while your baby naps during the day. It’s likely going to be a tougher way to make money, though, as there’s quite a bit of initial effort with no guarantee of a payout.
You never know, though—whatever idea you have for a children’s book, a book on new motherhood, or any other topic, it could strike a chord with readers.
10. Care for other children while on maternity leave
You can likely make money while on maternity leave if you’re able to offer childcare for other families. Of course, your own infant is your priority, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle another child or two.
If you think you’ll have the energy to safely care for another child or multiple children during maternity leave, go for it. This doesn’t have to be full-time care.
You might simply offer a couple of hours of after-school care for a friend’s kids. Or be the “date night” sitter for a few months for couples in your area (you probably aren’t going out much anyway).
11. Find a part-time job with childcare
This could be a tricky one. But you can look online and in the classifieds for part-time job opportunities.
Some places might be able to offer childcare while you work, which can give you a break while letting you earn money.
Perhaps a gym would offer infant care while you work the front desk. Or you could ask your local library if they need part-time help and would allow you to bring the baby along.
It’s not going to work everywhere, but you never know until you ask, right? If it doesn’t work out, try a “work-from-anywhere” job instead.
12. Create an online course for passive income
More and more people are earning money by selling courses they’ve created. Spend some time thinking of what your skills are and whether there’s a way to market them.
Selling an online course is a fantastic way to earn passive income.
You do the research, preparation, writing or recording, and any other parts of the creative process first. Then, once everything is set up, you can sell the course indefinitely.
If you’d like some inspiration, these passive income books could give you ideas for making your own online course.
13. Set up an Etsy store
For creative types, one of the best ways to share your gifts with the world is Etsy.
Perhaps you could make hand-drawn greeting cards or sell your famous crocheted hand towels. Or if you’re good with making attractive printables, those are great to sell on Etsy.
While you might want to someday take your creations to local craft fairs and festivals during maternity leave, an Etsy store can be perfect. You don’t have to leave your home to create money-making crafts.
14. Do online customer service part-time
Would you enjoy answering product or delivery questions by email? Perhaps you could start a small side business and learn how to make money on maternity leave doing customer service.
Online customer service is a valuable tool in today’s economy. Most of us don’t want to spend time actually talking on the phone.
We’d rather communicate through email or chatbots to handle business questions.
Search online for customer service jobs you can do remotely, and you might find something that fits your needs. This way, you can keep caring for your baby and making money, all from your own home.
15. Provide catering or cooking services (on your own schedule)
You may have a fantastic skill in making a specific few meals or baking bread. While on maternity leave, you might be able to sell your best food items to the public.
This job could require a lot of marketing, but through social media, it isn’t all that hard to locate potential clients. Whether you’re baking bread or cakes for events or making whole-catered meals, you could do it all from home.
Be sure to check into the laws in your state and local area about food-related businesses first. Find out if you fit the qualifications based on the type of kitchen you have and your qualifications to prepare food.
16. Offer a laundry service
If you’re not someone who hates the idea of piles of laundry, doing an in-home laundry service is a great idea for how to make money while on maternity leave.
One woman interviewed by Business Insider started her home laundry business with SudShare in 2021. She earns about $30,000 per year now doing people’s laundry in her home.
You simply sign up on the platform, choose which jobs to accept in your area, and then do an awesome job.
Providing extra touches like folding everything neatly and wrapping it with a ribbon could help bring you repeat customers.
17. Sell photos for stock sites
Both amateur and professional photographers can make money by selling photos on stock image sites.
Photography is a great art form that can allow you to explore your creative side. You can use photos you’ve already taken or create new images during any free time you have while bonding with your baby.
18. Start a print-on-demand shop
For another idea of how to make money on maternity leave, have you ever considered a print-on-demand (POD) shop? This is when you use an online storefront, submit your designs, and let them print orders for you.
POD shops are often used by popular YouTubers, who might create apparel or coffee mugs, or other merchandise with their slogans and images on them.
If you have some unique ideas for funny or interesting products, create images or logos that can be reproduced on them.
For a mom on maternity leave, POD shops are great because you don’t need inventory and can work whenever you want. The business mostly runs itself!
Many POD platforms exist, including:
19. Create an online fitness or health-related business for new moms
Are you passionate about health or fitness?
Perhaps you have expertise in a certain area of health, maybe one that impacts new moms like yourself. Could you start an online health business?
An online business in the arena of health or well-being could be a great way to make money from home. This might involve posting inspirational content about your own health or fitness journey, sharing products you love, or even selling your own course.
Be sure to back up any claims you make, and don’t pretend to be more qualified than you are. You don’t have to be a doctor, but you should always be honest about what you can provide when making claims about health.
20. Be a health coach (for pregnant women or new moms)
If you’re skilled in healthy lifestyle areas, you could try to start a health coaching business. Maybe you’d focus on working with new moms, but maybe you’d be open to all kinds of clientele.
Again, be sure to only take on work that you’re qualified to do. Perhaps you have a small fitness area in your own home and could welcome a few clients a week for personalized workouts.
Or you could offer online coaching or prepare workout plans for specific people.
21. Become a postpartum doula
A postpartum doula is someone who offers support to families with new babies. As Postpartum.net explains, a postpartum doula could provide "information and support on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from childbirth, infant soothing", etc.
You might be suited to being a postpartum doula if you have the training and the desire to help women and families with their newest addition.
You can check the following resources for information on how to become a postpartum doula:
22. Create video content on social media
Making video content for social media platforms is a way to make money from your own home. If you need to make money while on maternity leave, you can create videos for social media.
This may include being a YouTuber or making videos for TikTok, of course. There are people making money from all kinds of video content, from information on fast food and grocery stores to inspirational content.
23. Be a notary public
Another way you can learn how to make money while on maternity leave involves signing documents. You do have to leave your home to be a notary public, but it can still be a fairly flexible side hustle.
A notary public is someone who witnesses the signing of important documents such as loan or mortgage papers.
In most states, you only need to be over 18 years old and not have a felony record to become a notary public.
Some states require you to take a course of several hours to become certified, and 12 states require you to pass an exam.
You might choose to become a notary signing agent who focuses on notary services in real estate transactions. Some people report charging up to $200 per signing, which can make it well worth your while.
24. Invest in dividend stocks
This money-making tip isn’t a side gig. Instead, it requires you to already have money, then invest it in dividend stocks.
Dividend investing, put simply, is when you buy stocks that pay dividends or shares of a company’s profits or earnings. This means if the stock continues to pay dividends, you’ll make money on your investment even if the value of that stock doesn’t go up.
If you want to try dividend investing as part of your investment strategy, be sure to weigh the pros and cons.
This won’t likely be a great way to cover your expenses during maternity leave, but more of a way to continue adding to your future nest egg.
25. Invest in real estate
If you want to make money by investing in real estate, buying properties to rent out is one way to go. Of course, that can be time-consuming and require a lot of money upfront.
You could also invest through REITs, which let you buy shares as an asset whose underlying value is in real estate investments. These are ways to grow your total portfolio for the future.
Again, this is a potential way to earn money while you’re on maternity leave. However, it may not be a great solution if you have to make cash to live off until you go back to work.
26. Use Amazon affiliate marketing on your own blog or website
When readers come to your site and click your affiliate link and make a purchase, you get a cut of that purchase.
It can take some time to build a following before you make any money from affiliate marketing, but once it gets going, it can be fairly passive income.
You can learn how to make money on maternity leave and grow your income!
Making money on maternity leave is possible—you just need to decide where to put your energy. Since you won’t have unlimited time and energy, you need to pick one or two money-making ideas that make sense for you.
Use these ideas to help you figure out the best way to manage your maternity leave with your finances intact.