Maternity Leave in the US: How Do We Stack Up?

Thinking about adding a new member to your family?   If so, one of the things you may be considering is if you can afford to take the time you need to care for a newborn while still supporting your family financially. 

The US may be a leader in many things, but maternity leave is not one of them.  Many countries around the world not only offer lengthy maternity leaves, but paid leaves as well.  An example: the lucky ladies of Denmark are entitled to a full year at 100% pay!  Okay…maybe that is dreaming big, but other countries offer similar situations.  Russia allows 20 weeks at 100% pay, and Canada gives new moms 50 weeks at 45% pay. 

Where does the US stand?  There’s no national program, but generally maternity leave lasts 12 weeks and the benefits vary from state to state.  Currently California, Rhode Island and New Jersey are the only states with a paid leave system in place.  Recently, President Obama has expressed his hopes to offer paid maternity leave for all working mothers. 

“There is only one developed country in the world that does not offer paid maternity leave, and that is us,” Obama said.  “It’s time to change that.”

Many talented and hard-working women and men are forced to choose between their job and their family, which shouldn’t be the case.   We all know how important (and irresistible!) it is for new parents to spend time bonding with and caring for their newborn.  Many doctors suggest that the first few months are a crucial time for baby to learn trust and self-esteem.  You are their first model for a healthy relationship! 

What has your experience with maternity leave been?