Lengthening Maternity Leave – Research Paper – maube
Lengthening Maternity Leave
January 28, 2018
AP English Language & Composition
Lengthening Maternity Leave
The period after giving birth is a crucial time for health, growth and overall transitioning your life for both a mother and her child. Being employed, women have to configure how to handle the shift in their employment, family responsibilities, and health status. They begin playing the role of a working mother within a day, triggering stress within the home and in the workplace. Today, two out of three US women work during pregnancy and most return to work within 12 weeks of childbirth, but is this enough time for mothers to nurture their newborns the way they need? What about figuring out financial issues? As of now, our nation is not one that allows both businesses and families to thrive. Too many companies only offer unpaid leave, which is not enough to help postpartum women take care of their infants or themselves. Only 13% of workers in the U.S. have access to paid family and medical leave after a new baby arrives (Rowe-Finkbeiner). This leaves many mothers with no leave at all, which causes major harm to a new child that needs nurturing from their mothers, and stress among postpartum women that need rest and time after giving birth. On a normal day, a working mother is up early hours of the morning with their crying child. With their lack of sleep, they go to work, and spend the day worrying about their newborn, wishing they could be with them, nurturing them, feeding them. They then get home late, only to have no time to rest because they have to tend to their baby’s needs. Exhausted, she finally gets to sleep, only to repeat the process day after day. Maternity leave should be lengthened and subsidized because of the financial and health benefits it provides for parents and their newborn child.
As a nation, we are lagging behind other countries when it comes to providing women with anything over the bare minimum of paid leave. As of now, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates a minimum of 12 weeks unpaid leave to mothers. The first major issue with this is that it is unpaid. While other countries such as Germany, Canada, Norway, and Sweden have very equitable maternity leave laws that provide pay and are up to date with recent studies, the United Sates stands subordinate and unwilling to change the twenty-four year old law. For instance, “prior to 1977, working mothers in Norway were entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave but no paid leave. Currently, the situation is very different: they are entitled to a full year of paid leave and an additional year of job protection.” (Carneiro).
If Norway has been functioning for the past forty one years while providing working mothers an entire paid year off, it is unclear why the U.S. refuses to step up to the plate and do as much as require the current 12 week policy to be paid. “Sweden, Norway, and Germany, mandate very generous paid leave and long periods of job protection after childbirth. At the other extreme, there are a handful of countries, such as the United States, that have no mandatory paid leave and offer little, if any, job protection after the birth of a child.” (Carneiro). As if the stereotypes of our nation don’t degrade us enough, it is unfortunate to know that the lack of consideration for postpartum mothers is now on the list of bad notorieties. Countries who are providing longer paid leave are not only helping their nations grow in a healthy, nurturing manner, but setting a good name for themselves for genuinely caring about who is bringing new citizens into their country every single day.
Furthermore, going back to work too soon after giving birth is detrimental for women’s health. The trauma a woman’s body endures while pregnant does not stop once their child is born. Not only is the physical healing process important for mothers to focus on, but the mental exhaustion put on new mothers is a focal point that many do not consider. “Among employed mothers of infants, delaying the return to work decreases the number of depressive symptoms. Holding other factors constant, a one-week increase in the length of maternal leave from work would reduce a scale of depressive symptoms on average by 6-7%” (Chatterji). A simple seven day extension allows women to cope with the mental strain they endure in the days following childbirth; therefore an even longer extension of a few months could make a huge difference in mothers trying to raise newborns. About 900,000 women a year suffer from what is known as postpartum depression, leading it to be the most common complication of childbirth in the United States. To put this into perspective, only 7.5% of women in Canada experience depression in the
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(2018, 04). Lengthening Maternity Leave. EssaysForStudent.com. Retrieved 04, 2018, from