Yet another article about the wonders of French maternity benefits. The United States provides few maternity benefits compared to other developed nations. The only thing our government provides is 12 weeks off of work. No salary. The law guarantees that you will have a job to return to, but it doesn't have to be the same one you had. It's supposed to be comparable, but that seems like something businesses could fudge and would be hard to enforce. What this means in practice is that many mothers have to go back to work as soon as medically possible, which means six weeks after birth. This results in 7 week old babies in day care, which I witnessed when my son was briefly in day care as a (much older) baby. This is just wrong. A baby that young shouldn't be separated from its mother. Many developed countries give maternity benefits up to a year or more after the birth! Some pediatricians recommend that a baby be with its mother full time for at least a year. Preferably nursing. Returning to work quickly also makes it more difficult to continue breast feeding and reduces the mother's incentive to begin breastfeeding at all.
French people strongly support the extensive maternity benefits provided by the French government. These benefits are phenomenal compared to the United States: "Taken together, a mother of two calculated, the various programs of financial support can rise to more than $800 a month, plus the value of the public schooling for babies [available for free at age 3]. A more recent measure has made it possible for mothers of three children to take off up to three years while receiving about $600 a month, in addition to the usual child-support payments." (emphasis added)
We can't even get guaranteed paid maternity benefits for a measly three months in this country. This is really one of my pet peeves. This is because of the power of business over our government. If business doesn't want it, it's unlikely to happen. (another pet peeve)
With Each French Birth, A Dividend from the State