Paternal leave is more important for moms than dads study finds
Paternal leave is about more than just time off for fathers, and one US study is proving just how vital a father's role is when talking maternal health.
"If, for example, the mom gets early symptoms of mastitis while breastfeeding, the dad can take one or two days off from work so that the mom can rest." (iStock)
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Postnatal depression, postpartum anxiety disorder, and infections are just a few of the host of mental and physical health issues a woman experiences following labour and birth, and one study by Stanford University is proving that paternal leave is one of the best protective measures a new mom can have. 

Titling the study When Dad Can Stay Home: Fathers' Workplace Flexibility and Maternal Health, researchers Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater set out to identify "the spillover effects of fathers’ access to workplace flexibility on maternal well-being," by looking at the results of an amended parental leave policy in Sweden. 

Despite the fact that Swedish parents were being granted 16 months of paid leave following the birth of a child, simultaneous parental and maternal leave was limited to just 10 days, "this rule effectively limited fathers’ ability to use paid leave alongside the mother." 

In 2012, the Swedish government introduced its “Double Days” reform, allowing "both parents to use full-time leave benefits at the same time for up to 30 additional days during the child’s first year of life," essentially giving fathers the kind of workplace flexibility previously only afforded to moms. 

Looking at the data post-2012, Petra and Maya found that fathers were not only using just a fraction (6.4 days) of the additional 30 days, and only when absolutely necessary, but that maternal well-being improved greatly. 


Listen to local dad blogger AfroDaddy on the topic of parental leave here:


Their data showed:  

  • The risk of hospital visits for moms went down by 14%
  • A decrease of 11% in moms requiring antibiotic medicine
  • A 26% decline "in the likelihood of any anti-anxiety prescription drug in the first six months post-childbirth"

"The key here is that families are granted the flexibility to decide, on a day-to-day basis, exactly when to have the dad stay home," Petra said via Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

"If, for example, the mom gets early symptoms of mastitis while breastfeeding, the dad can take one or two days off from work so that the mom can rest, which may avoid complications from the infection or the need for antibiotics," she explained further. 


Also see: Wits says fathers need to get involved in the first 1000 days of their kids’ lives

What was your experience in the three months after your baby was born? 

Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


Local data supports these finding

According to research conducted by Wits University,"Women who do not have positive relationships with their children’s fathers due to lack of emotional and practical support... are most likely to suffer from maternal depression." 

The study also showed that involved fathers are vital to prenatal care including encouraging their partners to follow a healthy diet and exercise plan. 

Additionally, women reported "greater satisfaction from their roles as mothers" when "supported in stable partnerships."

Chat back:

What was your experience in the three months after your baby was born? 

Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


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