For many mothers, giving birth is a fulfilling and elating experience. Sure, there were pains during labor and delivery, but seeing their baby often erases all the hardships. However, even after the baby is born, mothers still need to do a lot of things. They need to recover physically and they would very much like to bond with their newborn. This is why filing for maternity leave is important.
What is Maternity Leave?
Maternity leave is the period given to a mother, typically after giving birth, to be free from work while still being paid. It allows her some time to physically recover from the rigors of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Additionally, it also gives her time to fully take care of her newborn.
The law governs the execution of maternity leave; hence, mothers who apply for it should be accommodated whether they are employed in a government institution or a private company.
Before, moms can only have 60 days of paid leave. But now, they can have 105 days. Longer maternity leave offers a lot of health benefits to both mother and children. Besides, many doctors emphasize that taking a break for 12 weeks is better as it allows more time for the mother to heal.
The Expanded Maternity Law of the Philippines
Previously, mothers can only apply for a 60-day paid maternity leave. However, in February of 2019, the Republic Act No. 11210, also known as The Expanded Maternity Law of the Philippines, was approved.
In this law, eligible employees can now avail of 105 days of paid leave. But of course, there are some considerations. For instance, situations like miscarriage and emergency termination of pregnancy are eligible for 60 days of paid maternity leave.
Basic Facts and Considerations about the Expanded Maternity Law
- Mothers can avail up to 105 days of paid maternity leave regardless of the mode of delivery (natural vaginal birth or cesarian).
- They can also avail it regardless of their civil status, employment status, and legitimacy of the baby.
- One condition, however, is that they must have made at least 3 monthly SSS contributions in the past 12 months preceding the semester of the birth.
- For mothers who are not under the SSS, PhilHealth will take care of their maternity arrangements.
- If the mother is a verified solo parent, she can have an additional 15 days of paid leave on top of 105 days.
- There’s an option to have an additional 30 days of unpaid maternity leave.
- Additionally, mothers must notify their employers about their plan to extend their leave 45 days before the end of the maternity leave.
- Mothers cannot “defer” their leave as it is supposed to be a “single, uninterrupted period at the time of the child’s birth.”
- However, the leave can be a combination of pre-natal (before childbirth) and post-natal (after birth) leave.
- The post-natal leave cannot be less than 60 days.
- Interesting note: Mothers can “transfer” up to 7 days of their maternity leave to the baby’s father. Itis okay as long as there are proper arrangements between two employers.
- The maternity leave applies in every instance of pregnancy, miscarriage, or termination of pregnancy regardless of frequency.
- Employers cannot subject women who apply for maternity leave to discrimination, such as lay off or demotion. Although, the employers can reassign them to a “comparable” position or to another department.
Finally, don’t forget that mothers are entitled to their full salary in the duration of their maternity leave. According to the law, they must receive their full payment 30 days after their employers received their leave application.
The Health Benefits of Availing the Maternity Leave
In one study, the researchers discovered that mothers who availed the Paid Parental Leave had better physical and mental health. In another research, the authors acknowledged that the benefits extended to the children as well.
After reviewing 26 experimental and quasi-experimental studies, the researchers came up with the following health benefits of availing the paid maternity leave:
It Helps Improve the Mother’s Mental Health
In their review, the researchers found out that availing the maternity leave benefit is linked to a decreased incidence of post-partum depression. This is an important discovery since post-partum depression can harm not only the mom but also the whole family.
Aside from this, taking advantage of the paid maternity leave could result in reduced psychological distress and better mood.
It Positively Impacts the Child’s Health
Because mothers do not need to work in the meantime, they can find more ways to bond or interact with their baby. These bonding moments can have positive impacts on infant attachment – the emotional link between the baby and their caregiver.
Later on, these bonding moments could also play a role in the child’s empathy, and interestingly, their academic performance. Some studies reveal that children whose mother received paid maternity leave have “greater academic achievements.”
It Helps Promote Breastfeeding
One of the best reasons why maternity leave is vital is that it encourages breastfeeding. Come to think of it, mothers who need to return to work immediately after giving birth would need to depend on infant formula. Breastfeeding, after all, is an inconvenient approach if they have to leave their newborn daily.
With maternity leave, they can take the time to learn how to properly breastfeed their babies.
It Helps Mothers and Babies Maintain Optimal Health
Of course, with the time off, mothers can recover without the added physical and mental stress from work.
The review also stated that maternity leave has a “direct correlation in decreased child and infant mortality rate.” This could be because availing maternity leave gives mothers time to bring their children to the doctor for check-ups and immunization shots.
Disadvantages of Returning to Work Immediately After Giving Birth
After discussing the benefits of maternity leave, let’s talk about the risk of going back to work soon after giving birth.
The most immediate concern is the mother’s health. After delivering the baby, the mother still experiences pain and the risk of bleeding is still present. Additionally, mothers are often exhausted due to sleep deprivation concerning taking care of a newborn that needs frequent feeding.
Going back to work so soon after childbirth can increase the risk of bleeding, infection, and re-hospitalization. For this reason, doctors often require mothers to rest for 6 weeks before working again. Of course, if mothers experienced complications, these 6 weeks should be extended.
Another disadvantage of returning to work so soon is that mothers may have a constant feeling of guilt. They feel as though they are not doing enough for their baby or they feel guilty that they are not spending enough time with them. This feeling of guilt is made even worse when mothers are not sure about the quality of childcare their baby receives while they are away.
Maternity leave has proven to be an essential part of ensuring both the physical and mental health of mother and child. With these days that moms are free of work, they can take their time to recuperate and bond with their newborns.
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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.