A recently published study at Stanford University shows that shared parental leave, which allows both parents to stay home for a set amount of days, greatly benefits first-time mothers.
In practice, the ‘double-days’ parental leave policy, which was introduced in Sweden in 2012, means that both parents can take out leave on the same days, to the same extent, for a total of 30 days. And can do so for the whole first year.
Before its implementation, parents were only able to take out a shared 10 days of leave, and only for a limited time-period after the child had been born.
The study findings, which have been picked up by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, the NY Times, and others, focused primarily on first-time parents: comparing results from before and after ‘double-days’ policy was implemented in the Nordic country.
Its findings show that mothers’ postpartum health was much better off when parents had shared or joint days of parental leave, and the flexibility use it when needed. Which is made possible as the policy allows fathers the freedom to take parental at their own choosing.
According to one of two Stanford economists and researchers running the study, Petra Persson: “these are unexpectedly big effects, and the reform cost almost nothing [to implement].”
The policy clearly offers postpartum benefits to first-time mothers, who were 14 percent less likely to see a specialist or go to the hospital, prescriptions of anti-anxiety medicine went down with 23 percent, and antibiotics prescriptions were reduced by 11 percent.
“A lot of focus has been on what we can do in the hospital immediately following childbirth, but less on mothers’ home environment, which is where the vast majority of women spend most of their postpartum time,” Persson's co-author and fellow researcher, Maya Rossin-Slater, said to NY Times.
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