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Shared leave

The law surrounding maternity leave has recently changed and parents of babies expected from April 2015 can now share the maternity allowance.

I was quite a young mother by today’s standards and had my first child back in 1995, my youngest is now ten so these changes seem quite radical to me compared to what was offered to the time but I have to admit it got me thinking and not in a positive way.

I do see some positives, I really do, but maybe I’m just lucky. I have a husband who puts in more than his fair share of parenting and household administration. School holiday cover is planned annually each January to make sure we get as much time together as a family using annual leave. Our working hours are synced to give us both drop offs and pick ups. Sickness has always been a joint responsibility, sharing the need to work from home or leave to collect a poorly child from school or attend yet another orthodontist appointment.

The maternity leave however was mine. I needed it and if I did it all over again I couldn’t be convinced to share it. Sure enough Mr Anthony took the week or two he was entitled to but once that was over he returned to work and I was left at home with the task of integrating a newborn into our already crazy lives. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way and looking back I’m sure the workplace wouldn’t have wanted me any sooner than my return either!

Childbirth is wonderful but also traumatic, frightening and downright painful. In most cases it’s over in a day or two and you and your bundle of joy are sent home with well wishes, no comprehension of how to get the pram up and down, very few instructions and nowhere near enough vases for the flowers you receive. It doesn’t stop there though, that’s not the end by a long shot. Pregnancy, childbirth and the subsequent time with your new baby is exhausting for a woman. Mentally and physically. Sleep deprivation is torturous, hormones are awful little things that send you up down and round the bend whilst they try to regulate and even out the rush that actually producing another person has inflicted on you. It’s all out of your control and all you can do is buckle up for the ride and get on with it hoping it gets easier. It does get easier, with each day, week and month that passes, the routine takes shape and it all comes together but it takes time and the babies I’ve met don’t work too well to schedules

Post natal depression affects one in ten mums , it can develop in the first six weeks after giving birth but is often not apparent until six months in and it is this statistic that concerns me when thinking about these changes. It takes a long time to adjust to a new addition and the mental and physical effects aren’t felt by the father in the same way the mother feels them. I know they have other concerns; fathers I have spoken to feel much more pressure to provide and I totally agree that society must see fatherhood and the positive male role model as a huge importance in a child’s life but we must be careful not to do so to the detriment of the mother.

I’m sure in the future we will have dads at BCL Legal taking their share of the maternity leave and although my thoughts do sound very negative I must add that it’s great that we live in a society where we are able to make these choices.

Each family is different, their wants and needs and financial situation may dictate if this change is embraced, either way, keep going mums, you are doing just fine.

For more information please contact Emma Anthony or visit the BCL Legal website.

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