How Long Is Maternity Leave in the United States Typically?

maternity leave
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A Mommybites reader asked:

What is a typical maternity leave length?

Advice from Expert: Renee Sullivan, parent and lifestyle coach

Just as there in “no typical” pregnancies, maternity leaves run the gamut – some as short as six weeks and some as generous as one year. Under the Family Medical Leave Act in the US, new parents are entitled to twelve weeks leave, though it is often a combination of paid and unpaid. Your best bet? Ask around the water cooler to the gals who have had little ones recently and give a call in to your HR Department for their existing maternity policy. And for the adventurous among us – those looking for something a little more robust and have a penchant for travel, and a yearn to be an ex-pat, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Austria offer a generous two year maternity leave. Read a great detailed report on maternity policies around the globe. Here’s another interesting read from NPR. To see a map of the maternity employment protections in your state, see Employment Protections for Workers Who Are Pregnant or Nursing from the U.S. Department of Labor’s site.

Advice from Mom: Andrea Reid

Throughout my work experience and in talking with other new and expectant moms, the average maternity leave length seems to be anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months. Some companies allow new moms to take a longer leave but every company has their own policy and corresponding pay structure. I definitely suggest checking with your human resources department to find out your options for maternity leave and, if applicable, discuss them with your partner to determine what will work best for you and your families’ needs.

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Advice from Team Member: Elise Jones

Before having my first baby, I was elated to think my little one and I were going to be spending some QT together and to be honest, on what I called a mini-vacation (HA!). Where I worked there was a very normal six week paid maternity leave but we could add on all of our accumulated sick days we hadn’t used. That made for about ten weeks of maternity leave for me. Then I had the option of staying on maternity leave for an additional two years unpaid and the company had to hold my position for me should I choose to return at any point during those two years. Each company is so different and the US isn’t known for their generous maternity leave policies. I was recently so in awe of Licia Ronzulli, a member of the Italian Parliment, who took her 7-week-old daughter to work with her. Check out the pictures here. Hopefully one day there will be better maternity and paternity policies in the US.
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About our team:

Renee Sullivan

Renee SullivanRenee Sullivan, founder of The Moms Groups, works with moms each week to create their own personal parenting plan that is right for them, while making sure that each mom gets the support, resources, and community they need for their parenting journey. Drawing from her experience as an birth coach and educator, she guides moms – new, seasoned and expectant through the never – ending array of decisions that come with having a child.

Andrea Reid

Andrea ReidAndrea Reid is a expectant mom awaiting the arrival of her first child (a boy!) Andrea moved to NYC from Chicago in May and started attending expectant moms groups organized by Baby Bites right away to learn as much as possible about becoming a mom. After participating in four cycles of expectant moms groups, she feels very fortunate to have gained a ton of insight and knowledge from facilitator, Renee Sullivan, and fellow participants on all things related to having a child. Prior to moving to the Big Apple, Andrea worked as a Senior Clinical Specialist with Genentech. She continues to volunteer as an alumni recruiter for the University of Michigan and enjoys exploring the city with her husband, Dustin, and Yorkshire Terrier, Zeus.

Elise Jones

Elise JonesElise is the social media director and blog editor for Mommybites. She is responsible for engaging and investigating a variety of parenting topics found on babybites’ social media channels: parenting videos, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and BlogTalkRadio show. The Mommybites’ blog is an outlet for moms who are in search of information to support them in their role as a parent. Prior to working with Mommybites, Elise was a teacher and worked in corporate PR. She is a wife and loving mom of two lovely girls and currently resides in New Jersey.  In her spare time (HA!) she performs in the theater and is an active member of her local public arts council as well as blogs at Here in This House.

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