The US is top notch in a lot of ways. Democracy, freedom of speech, the convenience of the suburbs, etc. I love where I live and am blessed in many ways.
One area that falls short, however, is maternity leave. 12 weeks maximum with no pay, really? That’s not even enough time to get breastfeeding down smoothly and heal a perineum!
A few days ago I received an email with a request to submit a survey rating the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) standards. Here is the response I submitted:
“I recently took maternity leave for my newborn. I truly appreciate the 12 weeks allowed under FMLA, but compared to other first-world countries, we are way behind. 12 weeks is just not long enough! For example, Canada’s leave is 53 weeks of paid! I only received 5 weeks at 60% of my normal pay, and that is only because I opted in and paid for short term disability insurance. A lot of women cannot afford to even take the 12 weeks, and only take 6. It is hard to even get breastfeeding going well by then. I feel that it is imperative to human health to start life off with a strong bond between mother and child. This bond improves a child’s self esteem and confidence. By having more time off after giving birth, healthy breastfeeding is established, which builds a stronger immune system, leading to a healthier person. I believe as a country we need to support pregnant women and new mothers by providing a better leave program. I think at least 12 weeks should be paid, and women should be able to take off a year or 2 and be guaranteed to have their job when they return. ”
Although I’m obviously glad there is a law at all, I do not think it is adequate. Look at this comparison of the US vs. other countries:
The US is one of only three nations that do not offer paid maternity leave (there are 178 nations). We are supposed to be at the top of everything, or so the media would like us to believe. This is a glaring example of an area where we are WAY behind the rest of the world.
And unfortunately, mothers and babies are paying the price.
Sign the petition to make your voice heard here: https://secure2.convio.net/npwf/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=643
To check out a list of countries and their maternity leave pay, go here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/22/maternity-leaves-around-the-world_n_1536120.html