Is there such a thing as a ‘right’ amount of maternity leave to take?

by pregnancy journalist

Having at least six months off work after giving birth is optimal for baby bonding, but women who take more than a year’s maternity leave could see their careers suffer, according to experts.

Deciding on the “right” amount of maternity leave to take for yourself, your baby and your career is one of the most challenging decisions a parent can make. It’s one influenced by privilege, personal choice and circumstance.

Maternity leave can come as a shock, but what’s the right amount to take?Credit:Shutterstock

In January the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made headlines by cutting its paid paternity leave offering from one year to six months. The Foundation’s chief human resources officer Steven Rice said the organisation found one-year leaves too “disruptive” to its teams. Parental leave is now capped at six months and parents are provided with a taxable (USD) $20,000 stipend to cover childcare.

Perinatal relationship expert, Elly Taylor, said The Foundation’s decision was disappointing, as women should prioritise their mental health when thinking about returning to work given the high rates of post-natal depression and anxiety.

Robin Barker, author of the classic Australian baby guide books Baby Love and The Mighty Toddler said her “unpopular” opinion is that parents, and ideally the mother, should stay home with their baby for at least the first two years. During this time babies are highly dependent and labour intensive.

“I understand people have lives set up and expectations of what they’re going to do, and often need to for money or whatever, but pushing childcare as the answer [means] we have gotten to a point where childcare is seen as the optimum,” Ms Barker said.

“I don’t believe [putting babies into childcare] causes long-term problems, it’s about the quality of life at that time in their lives,” she said, noting that nothing can replace the commitment and love of a parent, particularly a mother.

A joint report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and Workplace Gender Equality Agency released earlier this month found flexible workplaces with paid parental leave schemes are integral

This content was originally published here.

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