I went back to work this week, which got me thinking about maternity leave, and how little the US does to support new mothers. I did some research and what I found shocked and disappointed me. According to an article from The Huffington Post, 176 countries guarantee paid leave to working mothers, and some provide paid leave for fathers as well. There are a very few who offer no paid leave for new mothers, including Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Lesotho, and of course the United States. According to a report by Save the Children, more generous maternity leave policies can greatly impact a child’s life, because they typically are breastfed long, and resulted in a longer life expectancy as well.
According to The Nation magazine, the lack of paid maternity leave in the US causes many young families to go into debt. The most disappointing fact in this article was that “almost 30% of employers offered paid leave for new mothers in 1998; only 16% in 2008”. I just can’t understand why companies are cutting back on maternity leave, instead of making it better. As one of the most powerful countries in the world, I would expect that we would want to be a leader in taking care of those people who are supplying the future generation.
So here I sit after three days of work. The little one is sleeping away, because he is so exhausted from crying all day for the past three days, because he has been refusing to take a bottle because he misses Mommy and knows “breast is best”. Hopefully before I have the next one these policies will start to change for the better.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/22/maternity-leaves-around-the-world_n_1536120.html (This link has a list of several countries and their respective maternity leave policies.)