You’re probably aware – especially if you’ve had children – that the U.S. is woefully behind the rest of the world when it comes to requiring (or even offering) leave for couples during and after the birth of their child.
Basically, if you’ve been with your employer long enough they’re required to give you up to 12 weeks off without replacing you, but they don’t have to pay you for any of it. People have to carefully save their vacation and sick time to get a measly few extra weeks at home.
Other places do it differently, and after you read how hard it was for these 12 people to go back to work soon afterward, you might start to agree that we should do things differently here, too.
12. It’s not enough for anyone.
“I had a baby last January and took 10 weeks of maternity leave total. I returned to my job at the start of the pandemic (I’m a nurse).
Thankfully New York state has paid family leave but it’s definitely not enough for most families.” —
11. It benefits no one in the long run.
“Thirty days. I could use up vacation and a little bit of disability but otherwise it was unpaid. My husband had just finished grad school and was actively looking for a job, so I had to go back. It was too soon emotionally. I sobbed the first day, every morning, every couple hours when I had to pump, etc.”
“My girl wanted nothing to do with the bottle, so my husband would drive to my work during lunch so that I could breastfeed. We lived like this for three months and it was exhausting. I’m grateful that my job was understanding and let me have the time and privacy to pump or breastfeed…but I honestly felt like I got nothing done.”
10. It’s tough to be a working parent.
“I had 15 weeks, so I was lucky. Then I went back to work while my husband took leave from school to be with the baby. He was her primary caregiver for the next six months. It was the best choice for all—we didn’t have to put her in daycare, and my husband still says one of the best gifts he’s ever gotten was six months with his daughter like that.”
“But it was hard for me to see them bond like glue during that time — she was strictly a daddy’s girl for a year after he went back to his program. And he’d send me pictures of her ‘firsts,’ and I was super jealous. But I was the one with the full time job and there just really was no choice.”
9. Not to mention, 12 weeks really isn’t much time.
“California teacher here. People assume that teachers get paid maternity leave (possibly because there are a lot of young women and mothers in the field) but we do NOT. We get zero days of paid leave. We get the federally mandated 12 weeks unpaid leave, but if we need financial support during that time we have to use our sick leave. This means that most of us can’t take the full 12 weeks off.”
“I think a lot of women go into teaching with the hope that it will fit well into a parenting schedule (kids at school while you’re at work, summer and winter breaks) without realizing that we have very few options when it comes to maternity leave. Furthermore, if you get pregnant before getting tenured, there is a very real chance that you could lose your position. Teachers who are not tenured are on temporary contracts. When the school year ends, so does your job, unless the school ‘invites’ you back. Being pregnant does not improve your odds.”
8. People need to do better.
“I had a very positive experience so kudos to my employer (Bank of America). They currently offer 16 weeks of PAID leave plus the option to take an additional 10 weeks of unpaid leave. My first two pregnancies I took the 16 weeks then with the third/last baby we saved up like crazy and I took all 26 weeks off.”
“I feel awful every time I talk to other parents and learn other companies do so poorly. Support your employees and their families and they will remain loyal to you!”
7. That’s great for dads!
“My husband works for a major corporation and was given 12 weeks paternity leave, the option to transition back to work part time for an additional four weeks, and more than three weeks of vacation.” -sunset_apothecary
6. Definitely not worth it.
“I was a single parent and could only afford to take four weeks off after the birth of my oldest son. I
All I wanted was to spend time with my baby and bond with him, but I had to go right back to the grind because I didn’t qualify for any paid leave at all.”
5. Another way we don’t appreciate teachers.
“I was teaching and was given 6 weeks off. You only get enough time to physically heal and it’s unpaid. I ended up taking an extra two weeks off with my vacation days because I couldn’t believe it was time to go back already.
My paycheck was so small for so long because they deduct every day you were gone.”
4. I would hate this.
“My son was born on a Wednesday and I was back at work on Monday. I work for my family’s business and have been a single mom from the jump.
Now my son is almost two and I work six days a week to keep up. God bless America, right?”
3. This makes me want to hug her.
“My husband got one day of paternity leave. It happened to be his one day off that week. Then he went back to working 12-14 hour days.”
“It was my first baby and I was completely alone. No friends or family helped, visited, or even called. It was extremely traumatic. I had stitches and was in a diaper, I had this newborn I had no idea what to do with, and I was completely alone. It was horrible and so unnecessary.”
2. Four days, y’all.
“I had our preemie daughter at 29 weeks pregnant, while on a work trip. She was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for 63 days. After being discharged on Wednesday and driving home two states away, I had to be at work the following Monday.
I had four days at home with her and then had to split my time between a preemie and my job.”
1. Some people don’t get it until it’s them.
“I had to use all my PTO before I could get partial pay for the rest of my 12 weeks. Mind you, my PTO cap was 100 hours (which in the US is considered ‘great’ leave).”
“Afterward I had to put my baby in daycare where she, of course, got sick a few times during my first couple months back. Any time I took a day off or worked from home to be with my sick baby, I had a coworker who would tell everyone how I ‘didn’t take my job seriously anymore’ and that I was ‘lying to get more free time off.'”
It’s really appalling, and as someone who has been there, I can promise you that the postpartum period does not need any additional stress.
What was your experience like having a baby in the States? Share it with us in the comments!