Women's postpartum maternity benefits and work experience

D. K. Gjerdingen, P. M. McGovern, K. M. Chaloner, H. B. Street

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: This study was conducted to describe women's perceptions of their maternity leave policy and its implementation, maternity leave benefits, postpartum work experience, and factors that relate to returning to work. Methods: Surveys were mailed to 436 married, recently employed, first- time mothers at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months postpartum. Results: Most respondents said they had written maternity leave policies they could understand, but they were not completely satisfied with their policies. The average 11.1-week maternity leave was considerably shorter than their 8- month ideal, and only 25.5% had the option of working part-time. A minority (35.8%) were allowed to use personal days to care for a sick infant. Most women were distressed about making child care arrangements. Compared with women who remained at home, those who returned to work complained of more respiratory, gynecologic, and breast symptoms. Conclusions: Relatively little is known about women's postpartum work experience. In this study, return to work after delivery was related to several demographic, occupational, and social factors and was associated with health problems and concerns about child care. With a majority of new mothers now returning to work, attention has recently been directed to factors that facilitate the merger of work and parenting roles. One such important factor is women's parental or maternity leave benefits, the focus of this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-598
Number of pages7
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


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