Maternity Leave In America – A Depressing Outlook

So this evening I was looking at an interesting info-graphic that shows the differences in paid maternity leave in various countries. It’s not the most well made info-graphic (spelling mistakes/missing data) but it does give an interesting, and quite saddening overview.

Why saddening? Because when you think about it, in America it would seem that the value of a fetus is seen as far more important than the woman bearing it.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to stay at home with my children whilst my husband supports us financially. That isn’t always an option whether the mother would like to or not. In a workforce that still pays women less than men and is unsupportive of maternal growth is it any wonder that in a study by Duke University, they found a direct correlation between the lack of maternity leave (time spent with baby) and postpartum depression?

In another study by the University of Maryland, not only do they show the data that supports this theory, but end the article in noting;

“The study concludes that “the current leave duration provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act, 12 weeks, may not be sufficient for mothers at risk for or experiencing postpartum depression” and that future leave policy debates should take into consideration the postpartum health of mothers. Moreover, “employers should consider providing more generous leaves than the 12 weeks of unpaid leave granted by the FMLA through expanding the duration of leave given or providing paid leave or both,” urged Dr. Dagher.”

If this issue is highlighted in medical studies, why has there been no change to how maternity leave is handled? Does the health of women come in so low on the scale of importance in this society and economy that these types of studies are completely overlooked?

We are talking about the health and well being of a human being, the value of new life goes beyond the fetus, it is equally if not more important that the mother, the primary care giver in the majority of cases is in good mental and physical health to take care of their offspring and themselves. When we start viewing women, in this case particularly mothers in terms of their monetary value, we are treating them no better than cattle.

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