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How Was Your Vacation? No Sir, Maternity Leave Is My Human Right!

I would like to call it as a malicious and inhuman joke when someone addresses maternity leave as a vacation or break. Even though I was a doctor with lot of knowledge about mother and child care, when it came to pragmatic reality, I realized that it was not my cup of tea.

I woke up on a bright Monday morning, looked at myself in the mirror, and realized that it was the day to join back to my work after a long maternity leave.

I took a glimpse at my little baby still sleeping on the bed and was smitten by his tiny toes peeking out of the blanket, his adorable little eyelashes and chubby cheeks all giving a serene feeling. Later I hurried to get ready and leave for work.

It was very clear that I could not enjoy these minute and precious moments at leisure as I did it before. I reached my workplace and felt as if I was in a totally strange place. Just then, a familiar voice approached me. He was my colleague.

He asked me: ‘How are you? How was your vacation?’

I was totally left perplexed at this question.

I was totally left perplexed at this question. Forcing an artificial smile on my face and I walked away silently. The same question was asked by several other people, all near and dear ones.

I asked myself: ‘Does maternity leave really mean a vacation?’

So I am writing this article with an intention to retort back at those who think so and to convey an important message to all the old moms, new moms and moms-to-be.

Unquestionably and undoubtedly, maternity leave is a priceless, transformational period for any new mom, but it is definitely incomparable to a vacation.

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You are never fully prepared for motherhood

I would like to call it as a malicious and inhuman joke when someone addresses maternity leave as a vacation or break. Even though I was a doctor with lot of knowledge about mother and child care, when it came to pragmatic reality, I realized that it was not my cup of tea.

Soon after delivery, with the birth of a new baby at home, the whole atmosphere is filled with happiness. But at the same time, a new mom’s mind is filled with lots of confusions, chaos and agitations.

Is my body back to normal? Has my tummy reduced back to normal size? How to hold my baby? Will my baby suckle well? Will I be sleep-deprived?

Days after the delivery are overwhelming

These are few of those questions which keep hovering over every new mom’s mind and literally create a turmoil. The first week after delivery is in fact the most arduous and back-breaking one.

With many dear and near ones rushing to your home to see the little one on all possible days and at all possible times, it might be really an intimidating situation for a new mom to expose her breasts to feed her baby, and especially it is more daunting if it is her first child.

The struggle to get enough sleep! Followed by frequent feeding for every two hours, regular changing of diapers at all times with no difference between a day or night unstoppable crying of the baby at times.

Then there are the sore breasts and cracked nipples, endless rocking, swaddling and swinging of baby to put them to sleep are the usual scuffles which a new mom faces all alone by herself or with minimal support system from her family.

Sleep becomes just a thought rather than reality.

Sleep deprivation causes headaches, depression and irritability. The pain from the Caesarean section site or from an episiotomy suture area are added agonies. The hormonal changes produce mood swings and at times makes her cry a little or a lot. A new mom may start feeling all alone.

Initially the baby looks like a complete stranger to new mom with almost no expression or smile but always seeking her constant support, affection and love and keeping her pre-occupied at all possible times. The bonding is developed slowly, and it takes times, it doesn’t happen right away in few days only.

Trying to remember the number of times baby peed and pooped, looking at the colour of poop to find if any changes, becomes her daily routine.

Breastfeeding is not easy

Not all moms are lucky enough to experience a smooth breastfeeding. It can become as tough, challenging and painful beyond imagination with cracked nipples, problems with latching, insufficient milk production, back pain, improper feeding positions etc. She literally has to search even for a single minute to spend for her self-care.

Do you still feel that maternity leave is a vacation?

The whole community around us play an important role in battling against the misapprehensions, misbeliefs and misunderstandings surrounding the concept of “MATERNITY LEAVE”.

It is high time to realize that the concept of maternity leave is for the well-being of both the newborn and the mother, it is the time to rejuvenate herself and address to all kinds of physical, mental and emotional stress faced during pregnancy, delivery and post-partum phase and not just for freaking out in a beach, park or theatre.

Amidst all the roller-coasters faced during pregnancy, delivery and post-partum phase, all moms should be brave enough and learn not to forget the little happiness.

Happiness which you receive while breastfeeding, when you see your baby smiling for the first time, when you see the baby smiling during the sleep, when the baby gets a sound nap after a heavy tummy, when the baby holds your fingers tightly.

Maternity leave is a human right

Do cherish these little priceless moments for lifetime and stand strong to retort at all those who think that maternity leave is a vacation. Maternity leave is every woman’s right and not just an allowance or concession or privilege!

Image Source: Still from Pyar Ke  Side Effects 2 Trailer, via Canva Pro 

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About the Author

Dr. Shubha. H. V

I am a consultant pathologist at SRL diagnostics, Fortis hospital, Rajajinagar, Bangalore. read more...

3 Posts | 4,197 Views

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