Family practice residents' maternity leave experiences and benefits

D. K. Gjerdingen, K. M. Chaloner, J. A. Vanderscoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: A growing number of residents are having babies during residency training. While many businesses are working to improve maternity conditions and benefits for their employees, residency programs are often not prepared to accommodate pregnant residents. This study was conducted to examine the maternity leave experiences of women who delivered infants during their family practice residency training. Methods: Program directors from each of the 394 family practice residency programs listed in the 1993 Directory of Family Practice Residency Programs were asked to distribute surveys to female residents who gave birth during their residency training and had returned to work by the time of the study. Results: Of 199 known eligible residents, 171 (86%) completed surveys; these women represented 127 programs located in 36 states and Puerto Rico. Only 56.8% of women were aware of their program having a written maternity leave policy. The average length of maternity leave was 8 weeks; 76% had leaves of 10 weeks or less. For many, the maternity leave was derived from more than one source, including vacation, sick time, or a mother-child elective. Nearly all (88.3%) the women breast-fed, and the mean duration of breast-feeding was more than 19 weeks. In general, participants believed that having a baby during residency was somewhat difficult. Problems frequently encountered by women after their return to work included sleep deprivation and tiredness, difficulty arranging for child care, guilt about child care, and breast-feeding. Factors that detracted most from the childbirth experience were too little sleep, problems arranging for child care, and lack of support from the partner, residency faculty, and other residents. Conclusions: Having a baby during residency is somewhat difficult for the average female resident. Factors that may ease this difficulty include getting adequate sleep and receiving support from one's partner, faculty, and other residents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-518
Number of pages7
JournalFamily medicine
Volume27
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

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