A Mummys View

Telling it like it is

Protect the future of time with our babies: Six Months for Mums Campaign

on May 9, 2012

On my recent blogging travels catching up on other bloggers posts I came across a post from ReadySteadyMummy about A Working Families Campaign entitled Six Months for Mums and it inspired me to write my own post about the campaign.

It seems the lovely Government are yet again considering attacking the great average British Family with more un family friendly policies. This time they are considering reducing maternity leave to 18 weeks (4 and a half months)

Current law allows most women to return to work after 2 weeks, but it is presumed that most will take 52 weeks leave unless they state otherwise.  Under potential new Government plans, it will be presumed that women will take 18 weeks of maternity leave after which they will have ask for more leave and negotiate with their employer about how it may be taken.

My immediate alarm bells ring here, in that many employers, especially in the current climate may refuse mothers the extra time or state that it must be taken unpaid, which as my previous post The Tightening Belt already shows that many women are struggling on maternity leave and ending up in debt. By reducing the amount of leave women can presumably take, it is undoubtedly going to add further pressure for mum’s to return to work earlier than they want to.

It’s not just that though, by shortening maternity leave and forcing women back into work the Government are failing to look at the additional impact this may have.

SLEEP

Many parents don’t have the luxury of a baby who sleeps through by 4 months, I did (please don’t throw something, I’m sorry!), however many are still feeding during the night or dealing with teething etc. By making mums return to work early there will be an influx of sleep-deprived zombie like new mothers staggering their way to work every day! It will be like a scene from Night of the Living Dead! Seriously though, the first few months are so exhausting, there are so many changes to routine and sleep patterns, obviously the people recommending this haven’t been there!

WEANING AND BREASTFEEDING

Babies are weaned at 6 months, a process most parents want to be actively involved in, if they have to return to work early then this will mean that someone else is going to have to take on the responsibility of this and that the average parent will not have much of an involvement. This in turn may mean that processes aren’t followed as parents may wish (due to nurseries or childcare providers not having the means to follow desired methods ie baby led weaning etc) or even that we generate a society of new parents who lack a basic understanding of the requirements of child nutrition etc that many learn through the weaning process. Many women breastfeed (or aim to) until at least 6 months, once their child is ready for weaning. Whilst some organisations MAY provide facilities for breastfeeding mothers, it frankly isn’t that realistic. I couldn’t pump enough milk, it just didn’t work for me, I tried manual and electric breast pumps but I got nothing. I HAD to breastfeed. Making women return to work may mean many mums have to stop breastfeeding or choose not to do it at all because of this. This isn’t a major issue but perhaps they would have chosen to or continued to do otherwise, and isn’t it contradicting what all the advice and guidance suggests to us of breast is best and exclusive breast-feeding for at least the first 6 months???

FIRSTS

The first year is so important, the first roll, the first sit unaided, the first crawl, the first steps… these are moments parents long to be involved in and to witness. By four and a half months most of these haven’t yet happened! My daughter didn’t sit up until 7 months, bum shuffled at 11 months and didn’t walk till 17 months! If parents have to return to work, chances are they will miss most of these… that’s a huge shame and quite sad really, one or two fine, but to miss most of the major occurrences in your child’s first year…?

BONDING

The first months of a baby’s life is about them bonding with those closest t them. I had an amazing few months with my little girl as you will read below, we did all sorts and I really believe it helped her development and our bond. However at four months she developed the most extreme separation anxiety, in fact it was the worst my HV had ever seen! I will post about this in more detail another time, but basically I couldn’t leave my daughter with ANYONE for four and a half months. She was HYSTERICAL every time, even if I just went into the kitchen. I had to go into work one day and came home to find my little girl still screaming. It had been over 3 hours and apparently she hadn’t stopped once. No matter what we did she screamed and screamed, sobbing uncontrollably. Babies feel the need for closeness to their parents / mums and mums in turn often feel the same need, this often doesn’t change until well after 6 months at least. I was so stressed out during that four and a half months, it really took its toll on me emotionally. It’s unfair for mums to have added pressure put on them by potentially having no choice but to return to work.

ACTIVITIES AND SUPPORT

When I was on maternity leave I took every opportunity to get out and about with my little one, to meet new people, attend support groups and activity groups to not only get support myself and meet like-minded mums but to help me learn how to stimulate my daughter too. I went to a breastfeeding support group every week and had dinner with girls from the group after. I did baby massage, baby yoga, treasure boxes, music and sensory groups and messy play, all through my local Sure Start Centre as well as a weaning course when my daughter was 4 and a half months (which was invaluable) and rhyme and music sessions at my local library. I had a lovely time learning new skills, making new friends and spending quality, fun time with my little girl. I did this through the whole year I was off. As the months progressed we also attended soft play centres, swim sessions and had coffee mornings and play dates at friends houses, it was lovely and it really helped make me the mum I am today, I am sure of that.

If the Government go ahead and reduce maternity leave to 18 months they will change the modern mum and potentially further impact on the modern family, young people and society as a whole. They stress the importance of “Society” and “Family” and “Education / Child Development“, well my response to that is don’t proceed with a policy that has the potential to have a detrimental impact on all of these important areas.

Working Families are campaigning for a minimum standard of 26 weeks (six months) of maternity leave for all women.

They want to know if six months matters/ed to you. Whether you’re about to have a baby, are in the middle of maternity leave or you’re back at work, they would like to hear your stories.

You can visit their site to find out more or ‘like’ the Working Families Facebook Page and share your story there with them.

Please show your support and protect the future of our time with our babies

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12 responses to “Protect the future of time with our babies: Six Months for Mums Campaign

  1. I haven’t worked for a few years, so when I had my son I didn’t have to worry about how much time I’d get to spend with him before returning to the workplace. I can tell you, however, that he didn’t sleep more than five hours at night until he was 13 months old and I suffered from post-natal depression. There is absolutely no way I would have been in a fit state to go to work 18 weeks after he was born.

    He is 22 months old now and is still breastfeeding regularly. I expect he would have weaned a long time ago if I was working because I am also unable to successfully express my milk.

    It feels like an enormous backward step to reduce maternity leave and is just another classic example of how out of touch this awful government is with the general public.

  2. Emily says:

    My heart sank when I read this, 4 1/2 months is not enough with your baby 😦 I couldn’t have coped… what a setback instead of a move forwards. Friends living in other countries already have such better maternity options than us. It’s depressing!!

  3. Such a heartfelt post. “Firsts” really struck a chord with me. I was lucky enough to take it for granted that I would witness all of my daughter’s firsts. It is a daunting thought that many women will either be forced to return to work after 18 weeks. Childhood is fleeting, the baby months are just that, months. It isn’t until you have a child that you realise quite how quickly it all flashes by. To be forced into going back to work so early is detrimental to the mother, the child and the family as a whole. There is so much that needs to be done to improve societal support for mothers / parents, but shortening maternity leave with a view to that allowing fathers to take some time off, is far from the right way to go about it. I hope the Queen reads the speech she’s about to read and rips it up! She was a working mum – albeit a rather privileged one – after all!

  4. OMG, I could have cried when i saw this! After 6 weeks in hospital, that would have only given me 12 weeks at home with Riley 😦 That’s not enough time with your child at all! xxx

    • amummysview says:

      It’s shocking isn’t it. I didn’t know till I read Ready Steady Mummy’s post. Felt I had to say something and show my support for the campaign. x

  5. 18 weeks maternity leave doesn’t mean an 18 week old baby either – say you stop working at 36wks pregnant and baby is 2 weeks late. 18 weeks leave means a 12 week old baby, still a newborn really… I was in no fit state to work after 18 weeks maternity, I ‘only’ took 6 months off with both my two but that extra 8 weeks made an enormous amount of difference both to me and to them. And on the other side, women will be working right up until the baby is born to get more time with them, and the last month of pregnancy can be completely hellish – certainly far too tiring to function properly at work in many cases. 18 weeks maternity to me means forcing people into work who cannot function properly in a work environment. It really saddens me that this has been suggested 😦

  6. gemgemmum says:

    As a mum to a premature baby this really concerns me. My little girl was born 12 weeks early and at 18 weeks was just over 5lb and still in hospital. She.didn’t get.home until she was 8 and a half months.
    I have a great employer who let me have 15 months off although a lot was unpaid after smp ran out.

    • amummysview says:

      I can totally see where you are coming from, the Govt blatantly aren’t thinking of this kind of thing or how mums of premature babies would cope. Hopefully the campaign will help make them more aware from their ivory towers. Thanks for your comment. x

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