Can Longer Maternity Leave Save Your Baby’s Life?

Paid maternity leave has become a hot topic in California, where multiple Silicon Valley companies are offering generous policies. How long should you take maternity leave? It depends on your situation, but longer periods of paid maternity leave may improve the health of newborns.

Researchers at McGill University and the University of California Los Angeles have discovered paid maternity leave reduces the risk of infant mortality. Infant mortality decreases by 13 percent for every additional month new mothers are on maternity leave. So how did researchers come to this stunning conclusion?

This comprehensive study analyzed 300,000 births in 20 countries across a span of eight years. Researchers believe infant mortality decreases because mothers are less stressed and have more time to focus on the health of their babies. If the results of this study are correct, paid maternity leave could save the lives of newborns! In fact, the researchers claimed each month of maternity leave prevents eight infant deaths for each 1,000 births.

Prior research has agreed with the results of this most recent study. In 2011, another study discovered paid maternity leave reduced infant mortality by 10 percent and made it more likely newborns would be vaccinated. This prior study also discovered mothers would have more time for breastfeeding, which meant fewer infections for their babies.

Will California Guarantee Fully Paid Maternity Leave?

While the United States does not have a federal paid maternity leave policy, states and cities are enacting their own rules. Los Angeles is discussing the idea of allowing paid maternity leave for city employees. San Francisco just became the first city to enact paid maternity leave.

Current laws in California allow for paid maternity leave, but only at 55 percent of wages for six weeks. It may make more sense to call it ‘semi-paid’ maternity leave. However, the successful implementation of fully paid maternity leave policies in two major California cities could create a desire to change state laws.

The Los Angeles labor law attorneys at Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. are dedicated to defending the rights of expecting mothers in the workplace.

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  • What Are My Rights as a Pregnant Employee in California? Read More

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