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June 14, 2009 at 8:47 am Comments (0)

Finally, Paid Maternity Leave in the US — but only 4 weeks

On June the 5th, the House finally passed a long overdue bill giving Federal working moms four weeks paid maternity leave. Of course there were those who were against giving women anything. A preposterous argument against giving women paid maternity leave was made by some opposed to the bill who alleged that this would induce women to become pregnant or adopt often to take advantage of the of the paid leave. (Anyone who has had children can attest to how difficult and costly it can be to feed, nurture and care for infants as if 4 weeks pay is such a huge amount.)

Previously the US was one of the five countries with no paid maternity leave. Now the US and Tunisia are the only two countries with only 4 weeks paid maternity leave for federal workers. Should we be grateful? No its really shameful ! In most other countries women get 12 weeks or more paid maternity leave and this is available not only to all women workers. Its really pathetic that the US is so backward in promoting measures to support maternal and child care.

Furthermore paid lactation leave is not available in the US while in most countries paid lactation leave is commonplace. In the US workers can get toilet and smoke breaks but object to lactation breaks. Could it be the influence of the formula industry which would prefer mothers to bottle feed and see lactation breaks as reducing mothers dependency on the formula. When breastfeeding mothers in the workforce are not allowed to express breastmilk their milk supply stops their breasts become engorged and in no time formula feeding ensues.

There is no question that exclusive breastfeeding is important for optimal infant growth and health. Furthermore women who get maternity leave are very loyal workers and businesses have found these women are more loyal, more committed workers, take less sick leave and don’t have to be replaced as the leave is temporary. Mothers have a right to work and breastfeed and nurture their infants.