As a working expectant mum (whether you’re self employed or not), after the joy and excitement of finding out that you’re pregnant, one thought that could possibly cloud your mind with worry is maternity leave. There’s a lot to worry about.
Most women wonder how they will work during the days leading to delivery. They wonder if they should request for maternity leave. They also wonder how they will handle both baby and work; What time is it okay to get back to work? How will they leave baby alone? How will they handle parenting expenses if they are not working? etc.
Every mother must seek sufficient maternity leave as it is crucial for both the child and the mother.
How important is your maternity leave?
Devoting your time to the new addition to the family and all the added responsibilities that come with it can be mentally and physically tasking.
According to doctors, a woman must rest for a minimum of six weeks post delivery (if normal delivery without any complications) and more so if c-section. This is because, several hormonal changes occur postpartum, which can lead to postpartum depression in 10 – 15% of women.
The drastic hormonal swings can cause a woman ‘s mood to change from happy to weighed-down within minutes. This is why it is important for every new mum to get sufficient rest at home after delivery before rejoining her office.
Maternity leave also allows exclusive breastfeeding which is essential. It does not only aid in the growth and nutrition of the baby, but it also builds an emotional bond between the mum and baby.
There is an emotional bond that mothers create during those first weeks after birth. Your child is completely dependent on you. To completely remove this experience is heart-wrenching for both mother and child.
Going back to work immediately after delivery is not advisable. How much work will you accomplish in between pumping your milk when your breast feels heavy, managing your pain, and pushing through separation anxiety from your newborn?
After a while, you’ll get rid of the guilt of leaving your baby at home. And you’ll learn to balance competing demands on your time between family and work. Note that the transition will not be easy. However, having enough time to settle into a new life as both parent and professional will be beneficial.
That’s why maternity leave is important– it’s a time devoted to getting used to the parental role.
It’s essential that you talk to your employer about maternity leave. Find out if parental leave policies allow new parents to take longer leave, and/or work fewer hours in the first few months after childbirth. Such policies can lead to healthier parents — and children.