Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maternity Leave

When it comes to having babies we have it pretty good here in BC. We don't have to consider the cost of giving birth, if we need a c-section or additional nights at the hospital, thanks to our healthcare system. We can count on quality prenatal care and if you have a midwife (also paid for by healthcare), in home visits and office check ups for six weeks postpartum. Moms can take maternity leave for up to one year, paid at approximately 55% of their weekly earnings through employment insurance.

The reality in the States is significantly different, especially when it comes to maternity leave. A friend of mine from university and his wife welcomed their second baby boy a few weeks ago. Mom and baby are healthy and she is ecstatic to be enjoying time at home with their little boys. She is also counting down the days until she goes back to work, after just 62 days of unpaid maternity leave.

If you have had a baby, think back to how you felt eight weeks postpartum. Regardless of your delivery, chances are you were still recovering in one way or another and I can almost guarantee that you were still up a few times a night with your baby. Now imagine going back to work full time, leaving your newborn with someone else every day. Not only is this heartbreaking, you're exhausted caring for an infant, and possibly other children, but required to have a clear head at work. You cannot nurse your baby all day, retreating to pump instead, or more likely, giving up on breastfeeding altogether. You miss out on bonding and all the little milestones that happen in the first few months of a baby's life.

It's a pretty sad picture and since my friend's wife posted on facebook that she was on 'countdown' for going back to work I can't help but think about her situation constantly. How does she - and all of the other millions of women in the United States - do it? They are much stronger than me.

This article on the Huffington Post made me cry. And that's not an easy thing to do.

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