Paid Maternal Leave

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Paid maternity leave should be a basic human right for all United States citizens.  Right now, many women face the adversity of lacking a source of income after giving birth to or adopting a child. Evidence suggests that this has significant consequences for the mother’s and baby’s health as well as the important mother/baby bond vital to the baby’s development. We believe this dilemma can be addressed through an addendum to the Family and Medical Leave Act of requiring paid maternal leave.

There are vast social justice implications regarding the current maternity leave policy, primarily regarding the finances of the mother and child. The government needs to intervene in this matter. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not offer their families any paid maternity leave. Daily life is expensive, and adding a new member to a family definitely does not make it any cheaper. This should be a time for mothers and their baby to make sure they are healthy and able to adjust to their new way of life, but that is just not the case for many families. The majority of families in the United States cannot afford to lose a paycheck for any amount of time, especially an extended period, such as 12 weeks.

Women returning to work too soon after childbirth has become a more significant issue due to the increased presence of women in the workforce. There are several dynamics of the issue of women returning to work too soon after childbirth that need to be highlighted. The most prominent of the dynamics is the effects on the health of the mother and child. There has been substantial research completed on the positive impact of mothers spending more time with their children within the child’s first year of life. This has an impact on their physical, behavioral and emotional health. Children spending their first year of life with their mother is critical in regard to outcomes that the child is likely to experience later in their life. Another dynamic that is crucial to a mother returning to work too soon after giving birth is the health effects imposed on the woman. Mothers have reported having feelings of fatigue, hemorrhoids, and discomfort from the incision due to a cesarean section as well as numerous other symptoms that have resulted in mild to moderate discomfort for weeks up to months postpartum. The mental health of the mother should also be taken into account just as much, if not more, than the physical symptoms. Over the last decade, there has been a greater emphasis on postpartum depression.

Having paid maternal leave would overall create a much healthier environment for women, children, and families, and this needs to be addressed by our government. 

 



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