In recent decades, women’s presence in the workplace has increased from only a quarter of total American workers, to nearly half of all American workers (U.S. Department of Labor, 2020). With an increasing number of women in the labor force, organizations found themselves grappling with questions over how to accommodate female employees in their workforce, particularly when their female workers became pregnant. Although the United States enacted policies aimed at protecting pregnant women in the workplace beginning the late 1970s, research in both previous and more current literature stated women continued to report negative experiences while pregnant in the workplace and after returning from their maternity leave. Given the more recent push for family friendly policies in American organizations and the maternity leave policies that followed, it is necessary to examine the experiences of women taking maternity leave in a contemporary context. Specifically, in a new era of maternity leave where companies are offering longer leaves than mandated, what are the experiences and perceptions of the women taking these longer leaves? This dissertation examines the experiences of women who have taken an extended maternity leave in the more contemporary era of leave, while utilizing a human capital lens to better understand their experiences and perceptions. Notably, the findings suggest women still experience difficulties utilizing their leave policies and still have negative experiences and/or emotions surrounding their return to the workplace. Further, while navigating their maternity leave policies, both women and organizations use human capital as a tool for iv negotiating expectations. Practical, methodological, and theoretical implications are discussed.