U.S. Needs To Follow Other Countries By Granting Paid Maternity Leave

If working women were granted paid maternity leave, let’s say four and a half months worth, would that lower their risk of postpartum depression and anxiety?

Count me in as one raising my hand to say “I think it’s likely” that it would lower their stress level and that’s why I was pleased to see a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal written by a Google CEO, Susan Wojcicki, which promotes this theory.

Many of my peers, and others concerned with women’s employment and health issues, are puzzled by our country’s inability to emulate every other country in the developed world that offers new mothers paid maternity-leave benefits.

Although the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandated maternity leave, most American women, particularly those in low-wage jobs, cannot afford to take the unpaid time off they are entitled to.

Thus, they return to work too early, often jeopardizing their own health and well-being, and possibly the attachment with their newborn children. Wojcicki is quoted as saying, “A quarter of all women in the U.S. return to work fewer than 10 days after giving birth, leaving them less time to bond with their children, making breast-feeding more difficult and increasing their risk of postpartum depression.”

Before someone jumps on this quest as giving preference to mothers in the workplace, studies have shown that paid maternity leave not only benefits this group, but is also a plus for families and business. Consider Wojcicki’s employer’s experience: when Google increased its leave time from 12 weeks to 18 in 2007, turnover among new moms decreased by 50%.

If more companies would become as enlightened as Google, and other enterprises who offer sufficient paid maternity leave, women wouldn’t have to put their careers on hold — or even jeopardize their jobs — to take care of their very young children. With the support of their enlightened employers and federal government policies, new moms could be at home during children’s time of greatest need, and then return to the workplace mentally and physically prepared to do their best job.

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~ by ppdsus on December 30, 2014.

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