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Becoming a new mother can be very exciting as well as very stressful. Many soon-to-be mothers worry about having enough time to spend with the child, being financially stable, and if their jobs would allow them to take off if needed. In today's workforce; is there really enough time set for maternity leave? Employers can be very demanding and not be aware of how motherhood truly affects women. Employers should consider changing their policies regarding treatment of mothers and mothers-to-be because families would benefit from it. There have been questions about making a policy to have parental leave, which would allow men and women to take a leave of absence when a baby is born. This, however takes away from maternity leave because it disregards what women go though when giving child birth if men are given the same rights. Therefore, instituting paternal leave will counteract the discrimination women face over pregnancy and maternal leave.
Arguments with the law
A paternal leave will counteract the discrimination women face over pregnancy and maternal leave. Women of today have fear of taking time away from work when having a child. Initial efforts to establish maternity leave policies were in "response to negative effects of dangerous employment conditions, including long hours, on maternal and child health" (Trzcinski 9). More recently, the developing body of research literature "provides support for the hypothesis that under certain conditions, maternal employment during pregnancy and soon after childbirth can increase the risk of negative outcomes for both infant and maternal physical and mental health" (Trzcinski 9). More people have begun to see that this is a problem and something needs to be done to address it satisfactorily.
For example, in the past, the rights of women who desire to have children and continue to work had to undergone many changes in the work place. Support during this time period is very important. Prior to enactment of federal legislation that protected women from employment discrimination relating to pregnancy, it was unacceptable to many employers for a woman to take off time from her job to have a baby. Employers were often very inflexible and unsupportive. The husband and other family members could not request release time to support the mother-to-be and share the birth experience during this important time in her life..
According to the Solutions Journal, "For the first time in our history, approximately four out of every ten mothers in the United States is primary breadwinners and almost two-thirds are bread winners or co-breadwinners" (citation?). It is evidence like this that shows change is needed in the work place. With more and more women entering the work place, employees will need to be more flexible, especially with women who make the choice to have a family and still remain in the workforce.
However, "In 1993 President Clinton created the Family Medical Leave Act enabling family members to take off up to 12 weeks due to medical leave under any conditions" (citation?). This meant that the husband or any other family member could provide the mother and child support up to 12 weeks without fear of being fired or force to take a leave without pay. One could only imagine how important this was to having the father involved from the beginning of the young child's birth. Spending time with the mother and baby would provide memories he would cherish forever. Furthermore, this law gave other family members the opportunity to support the new mother, if needed, without fear of being penalized or losing seniority or benefits because of taking time off to assist in the care of the baby. Women play an important role in the workplace; therefore, they deserve rights that will fully protect them if they make the choice to become mothers and have careers Despite the Family Medical Leave Act, there are still many challenges for women, including finding adequate daycare and stress from working long hours and having to come home and take care of the family. Some efforts have been initiated to foster a dialogue on such issues. President Obama hosted the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility on March 31, 2010, to discuss how Americans can meet the demands of their jobs without sacrificing their families.
Additionally, the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor hosted a national dialogue on workplace flexibility to discuss how employers can empower employees and their families while becoming more competitive in the global market. Although much more than dialogue needs to occur, including development of specific courses of action to address problem areas and implementation of plans targeting these deficiencies, such meetings clearly show that strides are being made to seek solutions and ways to support women in the workplace, especially mothers and caregiver.
Support for women
Along with that, a woman's health and family responsibilities is very critical during this time period. "Despite the increasing rate of employed fertile women and increasing welfare benefits to support the work-life, balance, and the first years after giving birth are described as being the most demanding on mother's health" (Journal of Advanced Nursing). With that being said, often what the mothers experience during and after pregnancy is not taken into careful consideration.
"The workplace has been long marked by assumptions about the pregnant woman's ability with little attention to either relevant scientific data or the advice of individual doctors. Historically, women "with child" were presumed incapable of work, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy. Doctors routinely told working women that they had to leave work three months before an expected delivery (if their employers had not already excluded them from the workplace at that point). Today, the opposite presumption is often applied -- uncomplicated pregnancy has no meaningful physical effects that bear on a woman's ability to work. The presumption of incapacity and the presumption of uninterrupted capacity are, however, both flawed" (Pregnancy, Work, and the Promise of Equal Citizenship).
From there, people often misunderstand that the mother must be in good health in order to have a successful birth as well as a healthy baby. If she's not at her best with herself, what makes one think she would be at work. In cases such as if a woman was carrying one or even multiples she would need to start preparing herself as well as remaining calm. Women go through many changes before and after pregnancy. However, workplace flexibility programs has been demonstrated to alleviate some of the extreme pressures on individuals and families. According to the article, A Revolutionary Change: Making the Workplace More Flexible, "Women and men report high levels of stress in managing both work and life responsibilities, and although the majority desires more flexibility in the workplace, few have access to these benefits" (citation?). Recognizing the relevance of the stress issue and its impact on the workplace have led to some frank conversations about feasible steps for addressing the issue. "A variety of institutions and collaborative initiatives are collecting and distributing data and recommendations on workplace flexibility, encouraging the expansion of best practices" (citation?). Although data collection is a vital step, thoughtful consideration must be given to the implications of the data so as to affect the desired adjustments in workplace policies and practice.
Social support has been the subject of behavioral research for over two decades and the universal outcome has been that social support has therapeutic value in mental and physical health. The majority of studies have been correlational, and so statements about cause and effect remain tenuous. Nevertheless, it is the consensus that social support is a key situation moderator of or buffer to the effects of psychosocial stressors (Pearson, 1986).
Women should involve their peers to help the barriers so that they can express themselves effectively and comfortably. Knowing that they have their peers support, they express themselves with confidence from effective teaching due to the fact they feel like they have a comfort zone when friends with common interest are around. When peers with common interests are involved, women feel that they have their acceptance to learn and express themselves, which ultimately leads to a sense of security in their everyday life so that their personalities can develop effectively.
Actress and former Ralph Lauren model Brooke Shields suffered from Postpartum Depression, a serious illness that can occur in the first few months after childbirth, miscarriage, or stillbirth. The effects of the depression are sadness and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness which frequently result in the mother's having trouble caring for and bonding with the baby. According to Shields, deciding to have a baby was one of the most important decisions she had ever made. However, she learned that having a child often leads to physical and emotional problems for women, evidenced by her battle with postpartum depression. In her book, Down Came the Rain, she shares how it affected her marriage and relationship with her new baby and others. Although having a baby can bring a person joy and personal fulfillment, the experience can…[continue]
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