Support [U.K.] Catriona Ogilvy’s drive: “Extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies – Tola Adenle

October 12, 2016

Europe, Health, Women

This drive for maternity leave to be extended for mothers of premature babies in the UK is a good opportunity to wonder aloud how, in good old USA, the idea of general maternity leave remains an idea still being dreamed of by women.

When women give birth in the United States of America, a country that has planted its stars and stripes beyond the earth, those women who are often at the lowest levels of their careers, literally rush from maternity wards back to work. I know because my first child started taking her baby – though not a premature – to a sitter when the infant was only a month old and when the young woman had hardly fully recovered from the rigors of pregnancy, labor and getting used to being a mother. It was a break that called for her forfeiting part of her much-need earnings at work.

Even in so-called under-developed countries, women enjoy general maternity leave in most countries. In Nigeria, for example, millions of young women find ways to work work as close to their expected dates of delivery as much as possible so that the three month-benefit can be fully utilized for post-delivery bonding with their children. The three months, of course, are paid leave that must be given to government as well as private employees.

A situation as that in the States is not only inimical to the well-being of women and babies in the critical early stage but it also impacts the financial well-being of families because in most cases, young working women can only get some weeks off – as my daughter did back in 1999 – by forfeiting pay for such a break, or save their annual leaves – generally not more than 2 weeks (10 working days) for most to prevent the loss of paychecks that would go with taking more time off.

The United Kingdom already has general maternity leave and this petition for a very important but neglected segment of new mothers needs to be supported. Even though mothers are discharged before the babies are finally able to go home, the longer bonding period for a mother of premature babies may be longer in many cases than full-term babies.

This is a wonderful initiative that needs the support of millions of women – and men – in the U.K.



WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2016. 8:55 a.m.


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