"I wasn't ready": a working mom explains in tears why 12 weeks of maternity leave are not enough
March 12, 2021
Having a baby is not a walk in the park and after giving birth a woman needs to stay home and rest and recover for a certain period. Staying home to rest but having to take care of a newborn seem to be two activities that are profoundly in contrast to each other, but in this case they are certainly inevitable. Furthermore, a new mother must also consider when she will have to return to the workplace, if she is a worker. Nowadays there are many women who, despite working, choose to have a child - a totally normal and acceptable choice. Similarly, however, employers are not always of the same opinion. Leaving aside the injustices that constantly pervade the workplace, especially towards pregnant women or women with childcare responsibilities, we have to recognize the fact that in most countries women have the right to go on maternity leave and, therefore, to be absent from work for a certain number of days or weeks and that they will still be paid, either by their employer or the social security system. But does it really work like this in every part of the world?
Rachael Larsen is a young working woman and mother of two children. When she gave birth to her second daughter, she was entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave, just as is required by American law. The woman wanted to share with the web how this period of maternity is totally inadequate for the amount of recovery, bonding and work that a parent, in particular a mother, has to face in the first months of her child's life. Rachel posted a picture of herself in tears - it was her first day back at work. The woman knows she is fortunate in many ways and stresses that she adores her job, but all the positive factors she is well aware of are not enough to compensate for the strong emotional and physical idemands she felt in having to go back to work when her daughter was less than three months old.
"That night I woke up 5 times to breastfeed my daughter," recalled Rachel, who spent 4 long years of reflection before posting that photo and sharing her traumatic experience.
Rachel claims it took so long to share this thought, because she knows that many people's response would be extremely critical of her desire to be a mother and, at the same time, a woman with a career. "The greatest pressure falls on women and you can tell from the rude comments you get," Larsen said. The woman, in fact, received all manner of reactions to her confession, many of which, fortunately, were supportive and understanding. Others, however, were unsympathetic and stated outright: "You could have thought about it before having children!".
In America, legislation provides that a mother can take 12 weeks off from work, from the moment she gives birth. Every country manages this aspect of labor rights differently, with more or less adequate measures. Under Rachel's internet post, women from all over the world also shared their expereince. Many have confirmed the fact that 12 weeks is too short to recover physically, bond with your baby and see that the child has a good start in life. According to a 2019 Unicef report, which analyzed which countries in the developed world have the best maternity and paternity provision for parents, Estonia is in the lead: there, more than 80 weeks of leave are provided for new mothers on full pay. What do you think about it?