Why Dads Should Take Paternity Leave At The Same Time Moms Takes Maternity

paternity & maternity leaveIt takes a village to raise a child, but today’s society isn’t set up this way. In the absence of a support system, mothers suffer. However, there may be an answer.

Once upon a time, new moms found themselves surrounded by female relatives to help them heal, cook them warm meals, and hold the baby while they slept. Extended families were large, and their members lived near to one another, or even together in the same homes.

Today, life looks very different. People frequently dwell hundreds or even thousands of miles apart from their relatives. Those family members who do live close by can’t always take on the kind of care a woman needs after giving birth. They are often occupied by their professional responsibilities and can only provide a limited amount of help.

Without a network of support and care, many new moms face isolation and exhaustion. Too often, these women end up suffering from sleep deprivation and postpartum depression.

Motherhood is not meant to be an individual endeavor. Just as newborn babies need around the clock care, so do postpartum women.

New Moms Need Help

After giving birth, a woman’s body is in a state of recovery. It will take about six weeks for her to heal physically from the birth process. During this vulnerable time, she is also responsible for sustaining a new life.

Caring for a newborn truly pushes the limits of human capacity. The job is constant, and new parents often survive with about four hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation takes a toll both physically and emotionally. After a while, it is simply not sustainable.

This is why new moms need a network of support. In our modern world, creating a “village” of female assistance and support is possible, but expensive. The well off might afford a postpartum doula or a meal delivery service, but what about the rest of us? In fact, there’s a solution right there in front of us.

Dads are the new village.

Paternity leave is a new concept in most workplaces. Time off for dads is certainly a step in the right direction. However, the way that many couples are utilizing it might not be ideal.

In many families, the mother takes her leave, and the father takes his next. This may seem like the most practical setup, as it maximizes the length of total parental leave. Even so, it may not be the most supportive plan.

If the extended family won’t be around to help full time, a growing family needs a plan. Dads should consider taking their paternity leave at the same time as moms take their maternity leave. Both the baby and the mom will benefit from this arrangement.

Fathers (or partners) can shoulder the job of caring for a new mother so that she can care for her newborn. He can take responsibility for supporting his partner in whatever way she needs.

Making a Supportive Plan

Families covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are entitled to twelve weeks of leave for each parent. If mom is going back to work full time after the first twelve weeks, her partner might take the first six weeks off with her. He could take the remaining six when she’s back to work.

If a mom is planning to stay at home longer than this, her partner might consider taking his full leave right after the baby’s birth. Whatever each couple decides, it would be wise to ensure that someone else is home and available to care for a new mom for at least the first six weeks.

Our world is changing, and most of us do not live in close-knit communities full of female relatives without professional obligations. This comes with both wins and losses for women. There is no denying that new mothers lose without support, but it doesn’t have to look the same as it once did. When dads step up to fill this void, it can also strengthen the couple’s ties and help them work collaboratively as parents over the long term.

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