Paid parental leave is good for mums, Australian study

first_imgHerald Sun 1 May 2017Family First Comment: Interesting survey from Australia“Better physical health was likely due to delaying putting children into childcare, which increases the “immediate likelihood of contracting infectious diseases”, the University of Melbourne study said. Reduced stress from having a secure income and less pressure to return to work may be behind the better mental health results.”… “Ten to 20 per cent of new mothers suffer depression in the first year of their baby’s life, and women who go back to work within six months have poorer mental health. Dr Hewitt said the study was likely to underestimate the total life benefits because it only focused on the first year after the policy started.”Taxpayer-funded maternity leave boosts the mental and physical health of new mothers, a study of more than 5000 Australian women has found. The introduction of the paid parental scheme of 18 weeks’ pay at minimum wage delivered significant benefits to all new mums in the first year of their baby’s life. Better physical health was likely due to delaying putting children into childcare, which increases the “immediate likelihood of contracting infectious diseases”, the University of Melbourne study said. Reduced stress from having a secure income and less pressure to return to work may be behind the better mental health results.Prior to the introduction of paid parental leave in 2011, women who worked continuously for the same employer got a period of unpaid leave for at least 12 months and the right to return to the same position. Less than half of mothers had access to paid leave from their company — usually those in the public sector or large organisations.The researchers surveyed mothers before and after the introduction of the scheme, finding small but significant improvements in their health 12 months after giving birth. “Overall, the study provides evidence that introducing paid maternity leave universally delivers health benefits to mothers,” lead author Dr Belinda Hewitt said. The World Health Organisation recommends all babies are breastfed for the first six months of their life.Writing in Social Science and Medicine, Dr Hewitt said social policies which alleviated family role stressors and pressures for women to return to work while breastfeeding could significantly improve maternal health and wellbeing. Ten to 20 per cent of new mothers suffer depression in the first year of their baby’s life, and women who go back to work within six months have poorer mental health. Dr Hewitt said the study was likely to underestimate the total life benefits because it only focused on the first year after the policy started.READ MORE: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/paid-parental-leave-is-good-for-mums-australian-study-shows/news-story/fe71d143dce74b6a9117ebdf2b1af662last_img

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