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The New “Maternity Leave”

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(Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

CBS Charlotte (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSCharlotte.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSCharlotte.com/Health

(CBS Charlotte) — I once read that Sarah Palin returned to work four days after giving birth — and now, it seems that shortened maternity leaves are becoming increasingly popular.

The traditional maternity leave seems almost nonexistent in today’s day and age … and ultimately, the stress of juggling a job and a newborn baby takes a toll on everyone, especially a new mother. Shortened maternity leaves may contribute to postpartum depression, in addition to making it more difficult for the mother to breastfeed.

If given the choice, most new moms would love the opportunity to stay home for six to twelve weeks after giving birth, to bond with their baby — however, financially, this is becoming less feasible.

According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of households across the United States where children age 18 and younger reside, come from single mother households — or households where the woman is the breadwinner.

In light of these statistics, it’s not surprising to learn from the National Center for Health Statistics that 16 percent of new moms took one to four weeks of Maternity Leave, and it gets worse — 33 percent of new moms returned to work within days of giving birth.

While the ‘Family and Medical Leave Act’ ensures that large corporations offer their employees who are woman 12 weeks of Maternity Leave — this is most often always unpaid leave. Woman can claim disability if eligible during their leave, but the money awarded from disability is a portion of her salary — which isn’t always enough to pay the bills.

Despite the United States being one of the leading forces in the industrialized world, our policies on parental leave are not favorable. Currently, the U.S. is one of only eight countries in the developed world that refuses to offer paid maternity leave.

While bonding with a newborn baby is an important part of motherhood, unless our nation adopts a paid maternity leave mentality, the duration of time new moms can allot towards bonding will undoubtedly continue to become shorter and shorter.

-Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte

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