As soon as a child is born, the fathers must take time from work for at least one month to support their partner. It enables the mother to significantly take care of their and their young one’s health. The study claims that the fact that men must also take leave to allow the mother to regain her strength.
Flexible policies and their benefits
It was in the year 2012 when Sweden passed a new parental system. New parents could claim 16 months of paid time off from work, according to researchers Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater. The opportunity allows the parents to divide most of their time for their child until he/she turns 12. However, the major drawback was that both the parents could not take paid leave at the same time.
After the implementation of the parental policy in Sweden, the researchers claim to have noticed that:
- An 11 percent decrease in antibiotic prescriptions and a 26 percent reduction in the order of anti-anxiety drugs for mothers in the first six months compared to the mothers who gave birth before 2012.
- A 14 percent decrease in hospitalizations or visits to specialized also came to notice.
- The decline in anti-anxiety medications was especially notable in the mother after the first three months of their childbirth.
It happened because the fathers could be at home precisely when their presence is particularly important, especially to the mother. It allows women to rest and enjoy a much-needed sleep to relieve the burden from their shoulders. According to the study, mothers bear the burden from the lack of workplace flexibility to put off their careers at the cost of family formation but indirectly. The study points to the high mental health costs of childbearing.
An overlooked reality
According to WHO, about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just become moms experience a mental disorder that is usually depression! The increase in the percentage in developing countries has reached almost 20%. Now women who suffer from deteriorating postpartum mental health also face a widespread stigma. According to a 2017 study in the British Journal of General Practice, it was clear that women tend to overlook or hide their symptoms of postnatal depression with fear of unsympathetic medical staff and because of the fear that they would get a label of ‘a bad mother.’ When they experience distress and refuse to seek professional help, they could find themselves alone and overwhelm.
A political discussion
With the new broadened study, the main debate about paid family leave revolves in politics for finding new ways to help narrow the gender wage gap and provide women with more workplace flexibility and few career setbacks. The Swedish example, however, highlights the maternal health after childbearing and how workplace flexibility for the fathers can alleviate them. Rossin-Slater says that it is essential for lawmakers to think about giving families access to some leave and letting them have an agency over to explain how they use it.
These policies, however, did not do much good as 90% of fathers across European nations do not use paternal leave entitlements. Fathers need to understand what a mother goes through after childbirth for making them use these entitlements, and this can be achieved with the professionals’ involvement.