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October 9, 2017

Maternity Leave Is Not A Holiday

mat leave edit

There are some strange notions out there about exactly what a new mother does during maternity leave. The uninformed think that because a baby sleeps a lot there’s a lot of Netflix binge-watching, hanging around in pyjamas, changing a nappy or two. Basically a holiday.

Maia had a great post on this, where she describes a former colleague asking her what she does all day when her son Tom was eight weeks old.

A Reddit user ‘theaeater’ recently started a thread about how maternity leave is not a vacation and as well as a time to bond and care for your newborn, it is also a time to recover from pregnancy and childbirth.

Her colleagues, however, see any concessions as ‘favours’ and she said they don’t understand why she needs a full two months off after the birth.

She wrote:

‘I’ve had to ask for some concessions from work because of some difficulties relating to my pregnancy, and to my bemusement, they’re being taken as “favors” being done for me.’

‘I also recently had some difficult conversations about the rest and recovery period after birth, and some folks seem to think it’s just “time off for the new mom,” rather than a genuine physical recovery period after a fairly traumatic, physical medical procedure. “Why does it have to be two months, though?” Because shit needs to heal down there, and it takes time?’

The expectant mom had to back out of a work trip late in her pregnancy – she’s due Christmas Eve – and has received requests from co-workers for her baby to be named after them because they’ve accommodated her pregnancy.

And spare a thought for American mothers. One in four new moms head back to work two weeks after giving birth as even unpaid maternity leave is not protected under US law, unless they work for a company with 50 or more employees or have been with their employer for at least 12 months.

Here in Ireland maternity leave is 26 weeks, which doesn’t feel enough and the statutory paid leave is too low for some mothers to even take the full six months entitlement. Still if you can afford it you can take additional unpaid leave for up to 16 weeks.