How fortunate am I to be able to have this whole year to simply focus on raising my child, spend time cuddling and playing with him, actively taking part in his development and savouring this amazing bond? I can’t imagine only having the few weeks or months that are allocated to mothers in other countries. This time with your newborn, coupled with early childhood and post-natal services and programs (i.e., mommy-baby sing along groups, new mother discussion groups), is essential to their optimal development, which has an impact on their future success and ultimately, the future of the country and the world.
Unfortunately however, many mothers cannot financially afford to take their full maternity leave, often resulting in their infants being left at home in the care of others, without appropriate stimulation or nutrition. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty and highlights the link between poverty and future well-being (academically, socially and health-related), which starts as early as infancy, and in some cases, birth. Furthermore, there are negative social-psychological effects on the mother, due to lack of adequate bonding with their infant and the stress associated with balancing financial needs along with the needs of their newborn.
There is ample research demonstrating the far reaching benefits of investing in early childhood development and the link between poverty and developmental outcomes and future success. Investing in greater maternity leave benefits, especially for those in need, will help mothers and babies get off to an optimal start and positively influence the well-being of the whole family, country and beyond.