In 2011, Megyn Kelly had this to say to Mike Gallagher, a political commentator who called her maternity leave a “racket”:
“Just in case you didn’t know, Mike, I want you to know that the United States is the only country in the advanced world that doesn’t require paid maternity leave. Now I happen to work for a nice employer that gave me paid leave. But the United States is the only advanced country that doesn’t require paid leave. If anything, the United States is in the dark ages when it comes to maternity leave. And what is it about carrying a baby for nine months, that you don’t think deserves a few months off so bonding and recovery can take place, hmm?”
Megyn was right about more than one thing: The U.S. is the only industrialized nation not to require paid maternity leave. And carrying a baby does require both recovery and time for bonding. Women are biologically designed to carry on the human race. In my opinion, that is both a privilege and a burden that deserves some accommodation. Carrying a baby isn’t exactly easy. As an example, morning sickness often left me throwing up in the bushes outside of my office, and I visited a chiropractor three times a week to deal with the pinched nerve that pregnancy hormones had created. Also, one word: childbirth. I won’t go into more detail. I couldn’t imagine returning to work after six weeks (or 6 days). Between feeding and pumping and bath time, the stereotypes are true that you have no time to do anything else. If you want to get some perspective, just set your alarm for 11 pm, 2 am, 5 am, and 8 am. Throw in waking up a few extra times wondering if your kid is still breathing. Then try to get in a full day of productive work. Baby brain isn’t just a myth.
But it’s certainly not just about new moms – sufficient bonding with new babies can prevent diseases, boost immunity and enhance a baby’s IQ. Better babies = better world.
For many women, taking time off after childbirth isn’t an option. The only federal law we have guaranteeing time off is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law provides job-protected unpaid leave to parents caring for a new child. Let me repeat: unpaid. The act also only applies to employers with 50 or more employees. Some states have enacted their own FMLAs to cover employers with fewer employees. Maine and Maryland’s FMLA laws apply to employers 15 or more employees. But, if you work for a small company, you aren’t entitled to anything under the law.
The Verdict: Maternity laws in the U.S. have a long way to go.
Here are some of our maternity pictures about ten weeks before Tripp was born!
Photos by Starfish Studios