Maternity Leave: Is It a Feminist Issue?
Should she take a lengthy maternity leave, knowing that more time at home can improve the well-being of both mother and child? After all, research shows maternity leaves are related to lower infant mortality and reduced maternal stress. Or should she forego that long maternity leave, knowing that getting back to work quickly will improve her career opportunities?
With the subsequent intermittent contractions of the uterus and the effacement and dilatation of the cervix, together with frequentfetalposition changes to keep the smallest diameter of the fetal head always presenting to the smallest diameter of the maternal pelvis, and with the natural pull of gravity as well, the fetus is propelled through the birth canal and out of the mother’s system. However, in some instances and due to some abnormalities in the dynamics of childbirth, the fetus cannot efficiently and effectively propel itself out of the birth canal. In such cases, the use of assistive devices such as a vacuum or forceps is necessary to guide and draw out the child from the mother’s womb safely.
Women in China are entitled to “128 days of maternity leave with provisions to extend the time further,” while a woman’s employer in the United States might, if they are required to, allow 12 weeks’ time, unpaid. Maternity leave and post-partum health are shown to be directly correlated with “positive associations.” (Avendano 46). Because “new mothers are subsequently at increased risk for a range of psychiatric disorders including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and postpartum psychosis.” the mandated length of a maternity leave should be highly reconsidered. (pg 45).
It is a necessary long term investment, which is already paying off in countries where parents receive paid leave.
Aitken, Zoe, et al. “The Maternal Health Outcomes of Paid Maternity Leave: A Systematic Review.” Social Science & Medicine, vol. 130, no. Apr 2015, 2015, pp. 32-41.
Avendano, Mauricio, et al. “The Long-Run Effect of Maternity Leave Benefits on Mental Health: Evidence from European Countries.” Social Science & Medicine, vol. 132, 2015, pp. 45-53.
Mandal, Bidisha. “The Effect of Paid Leave on Maternal Mental Health.” Maternal and Child Health Journal, vol. 22, no. 10, 2018, pp. 1470-1476.