According to a recent article on Healthline.com
, 40% of women in the United States don’t qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which grants 12 weeks of protected, unpaid job leave at the federal level; just 12% of women with private sector jobs have access to paid maternity leave; and 25% of women return to work within two weeks of giving birth.
Maternity leave is simply defined as the period of time a new mother takes off from work after having a baby. This time involves recovery from the taxing physical process of labor and delivery and tending to a new baby’s needs (keep in mind that moms of babies delivered by C-section need more time to recover from that surgery). Some companies offer paid leave, while others offer nothing. Under FMLA, some parents of either gender can take up to 12 weeks off to care for their new child (including having a child join their family through adoption in some cases). To qualify, moms and dads must have been with the company for a minimum of one year, have worked at least 1,250 hours during the past year and work for a company with at least 50 employees.
While some of your coworkers might have the misconception that maternity leave (or paternity leave) is a vacation, experienced moms and dads know better: it’s a period of huge adjustment that often involves little sleep and plenty of physical changes. Try not to get defensive if a less conscientious or compassionate co-worker teases you about your “maternity vacation” or “paternity play time.” Continue to calmly reiterate the importance of spending that time with your child.
Even if you get all of the maternity or paternity leave you want, coming back into the workplace will be a big transition after being home with your baby. It’s smart to plan for success. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, inquire about a private place at work where you can use your breast pump and a refrigerator to store the milk. Plan for the extra step in the morning of taking baby to her caregiver or daycare center, in case you need to shift your work hours earlier or later to accommodate. Consider your company’s work from home policy if your child is under-the-weather. While it’s not possible to plan for every unexpected thing involved with being a new parent, thinking ahead can help you feel more prepared. You’ve got this, parents!
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