Maternity Leave Study

I saw this study which looked at maternity leave from two angles: successful breastfeeding and C-sections.

The first angle was a big no-brainer — it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the longer a woman takes off after the birth of her baby, the more likely she will be to continue to breastfeed. In fact, it’s so understandable, I’m rather surprised anyone gave money to study it — of course women who stay home with their children for 12 weeks or more will be more likely to be able to successful breastfeed them than women who can only stay with their children a few weeks before having to return to work. And of course women who have some degree of autonomy and have easy (easier) access to time and privacy to pump at work will be able to continue to maintain their supply to be able to breastfeed. As a stay-at-home mom I can only imagine how difficult it would be to leave my infant for hours at a time, and try to find time to pump at work, and what those two factors might do to my supply.

But the second one was fairly interesting: women who took off of work at 35 weeks had a four-fold reduced risk of having a primary C-section, compared to those who worked up until the birth. This article mentioned other studies undertaken in Europe which noted similar things — that working up until birth is associated with increased negative outcomes for the baby. You can go read the whole article for all the findings.

I agree with the goals of the article — reducing the C-section rate and increasing the breastfeeding rate. What I don’t like about the article is that it seems to be pushing for more federally-guaranteed maternity leave. While I like the idea of moms not working around the births of their babies, I don’t like the government intrusion and the increase in socialism that are part and parcel of that. My preference is that women quit work when they have children. I know a lot of feminists are cringing at that statement, but I don’t care. Some women absolutely cannot quit work — they must earn money for their family’s survival. But most can, if they’ll scale down their lifestyle. Or at least, be able to afford to take more time off without government intervention. Right now our country is in an economic downturn, with people being laid off, and a lot of people wondering how they’ll manage to continue to maintain their lifestyle. But their lifestyle is a house of cards, built on credit, and borrowing, and overextending themselves. Instead of trying to maintain their lifestyle, they can live in a simpler way — the way people did in previous generations, within one income — and stop trying to impress everybody with what they pretend they can afford, all the while they are drowning in debt.

Here is a longer article on the history of breastfeeding, and more particularly, wet-nurses, pumping, and the waxing and waning popularity of breastfeeding. It was quite interesting, although, again, I disagree with the editorial comments promoting that our government fund or require companies to allow year-long maternity leave. As much as I agree with women staying home with their children that first year, I think that it is something they should do without a government mandate. And since we’re a long way off from paid year-long maternity leaves, the economic reality is that if women take an unpaid leave of absence, then they will be living on one income anyway, so will have to make adjustments for that situation. And if they can do it then, they can look into ways of making it work now. Stepping off soapbox now. 🙂


3 Responses

  1. I agree with everything you said 100%. Before I ever got pregnant I really struggled with the thought of leaving my job and becoming a mother even though I knew that is what is best for my baby and family. When we finally got pregnant, I was changed in many ways. After having Caleb, the thought of going back to work made me cringe, and after all that I thought I would be giving up in the end it was something I was so grateful we were able to do. I love being a mother and realize there is a time and a season for everything, and my season right now is mothering. I love it.

    I consider myself an independent opinionated woman but I do feel strongly that if it be possible at all that if women decide to have children it’s important to raise them. I know this is a touchy subject, but I worked with troubled teens for a few years and I truly believe there is a huge lack of mothering in society today. I feel blessed I had a mother who was home, and even more blessed that I can be that for my children.

    I know not every mother can stay home, but I think you are right on with what you said. If at all possible…

    Thank you!

  2. As a Canadian who was able to take advantage of a year-long maternity leave, I can tell you I think it was wonderful! I got paid about 60% of my previous income. This money came from the Employment Insurance program, to which I had been contributing throughout my working years. (This fund also pays out to people for a time following job loss.) The one year maternity leave allows mothers who might think twice about staying home to just… stay home. I agree that it is best for mothers to stay home with their children throughout early childhood, but the first year is so critical and this program allows and encourages that time together.

  3. You go, Kathy! Right on!

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