I was asked to share the following infographic on my blog and, even though my blog is UK based, I decided I would because I feel strongly that parents should be offered paid parental leave following the birth of a child.
I can't imagine how people cope financially without maternity and paternity pay. It must be incredibly stressful, and must have a negative impact on these oh-so-important first few months with a new baby.
In the US, one in three new mums received no paid time off for maternity leave. Not even a single day for the time spent pushing the baby out! I received statutory maternity pay for nine months, and I don't know how we would have coped without it. I would have hated to have felt pressured into returning to work early because of financial constraints.
In the US, men who receive paid paternity leave are more likely to help out with basic childcare once the baby is eight months old. Paid paternal leave, for both parents, is important for encouraging bonding after the birth. I don't know how I would have coped for those first two weeks if Laurie hadn't been around to cook dinner, change nappies and restock the biscuit cupboard.
Research has found that breastfeeding rates are higher, and breastfeeding is prolonged, in countries that offer paid maternity leave. There are many factors affecting breastfeeding rates, but maternity leave is certainly one of them. Paid leave allows a woman to settle into her new role as a mother, without this she may be worried about her return to work, and not see the point in starting something she cannot finish.
The US is the only developed country that doesn't offer paid maternity leave for new mums. As a global society, we should be ensuring that all new parents are supported and able to best look after their children.
If you live in the US, and would like to contact your elected representative to campaign for paid paternal leave, you can send a pre-written email here. If you don't live in the US but would like to support the campaign, share this information with others.