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The debate around maternity leave

Baby Care By Rachel Murugi
Maternity leaves gives mother and baby a chance to bond (Photo: Shutterstock)

You never really conceptualize the magnitude of pressure that comes with taking care of a newborn until you have one. This is most likely why some organizations find it hard to give maternity leave the attention and payment it deserves. The debate around it is whether it should be paid and how long it should take.

ALSO READ: Celebrities who’ve defended their right to breastfeed

According to Baby Centre, a child needs at least three months with a parent, especially the mother, to thrive best. Newborns need to breastfeed or bottle feed, have someone to cuddle them and observe their milestones. Moreover, after delivery, a woman takes three to six months to heal well. All this is dependent on the type of birth option they went through. Vaginal birth heals faster, while a caesarean section needs more time. Therefore, how long should a company give their employees who should be going for leave?

It is mostly normal especially here in Kenya for companies to give three months worth of leave. Unfortunately, not very many companies actually put this to practice. Many ladies have to come to terms with unpaid leaves or letters of termination straight after the leave. This puts women in a wobbly career balance since they often feel unsupported enough to pursue their dreams career-wise as well as fulfill their duties as mothers.

For an effective women workforce, companies need to support their fellows. This is possible through their contribution in ensuring that the three months are completed. It will help the women heal better and thereafter be able to be more productive at work. The other way of support is ensuring that the women are paid. An entitlement to full pay during the maternity leave is a right that women need to be aware of.

As for women, one needs to be prudent in informing their employer they are pregnant very early. Much as there are cases of women being fired before their delivery on the basis of pregnancy, you'd rather be aware of your situation early rather than waiting to be terminated towards your final trimester of your pregnancy,of which you'll be unable to get another employer.

Maternity leave is a right to women, more so because they are not only a good workforce but are also a very important gender to progress the growth of our society. Considering the birth and healing of women should be one of the top agendas for companies who are visionary and value women.

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