America: Take A Good, Hard Look at What You’re Doing to Working Mothers

Sarah Toce
5 min readJan 18, 2018
Sophia Marie/Courtesy of Sarah Toce

Americans may have the edge on Olympic medals, fast food chains and Broadway musicals, but we’re severely lacking in the parental leave department.

In Sweden, women are given a full year off to heal properly and bond with their child(ren). If they have more than one child, they are given that same amount of time per child. In the United States, we’re lucky if we get a few days, a week, a month, or 90 days before the threat of not returning means the loss of employment, housing, stability, health insurance, and additional burdens.

If you work for yourself or own a small business, the luxury of a few days off is nearly impossible.

Sophia Marie/Sarah Toce

The imminent threat of financial hardship and loss of health benefits make it a low priority for women to take care of their postpartum bodies, which, if we’re being honest, are usually a bit nutty after returning home from the hospital. Hormones fluctuate to grow a tiny human, organs are rearranged, backs are thrown out of alignment, and food is suddenly leaking from your breasts (if you’re even able to produce for your child) — and yet employers and the federal government believe women should “buck up” and return to the workforce without hesitation. I am all for bucking up, but this is not one of those times.

Don’t forget that newborn who may or may not have been born with a birth defect or other noticeable ailment needing urgent attention. Oh, yeah, that part…

I’ve got news for you: you’re all delusional if you think any of this is acceptable.

Top 10 Countries with the Best Parental Leave

An article in Business Insider listed these top 10 places offering substantially greater parental leave opportunities than the United States.

1. Finland Maternity leave may start seven weeks before the estimated due date. After birth, the government covers 16 additional weeks of paid leave through a maternity grant, regardless of whether the mother is a student, unemployed or self-employed. After a child turns three…

Sarah Toce

Bad-ass mom and civil rights champion. Journalist, influencer, fishing novice. All in a day's work.