Things To Consider Before You Decide To Get Knocked-Up

How do you feel about this map?

How do you feel about this map?

Do you live in France, Sweden or Finland? Do you want to have kids? Great! Go for it! Do you live in the United States yet also have the hankering to lay down by the sweet fire and make a baby? Ha! You may want to reconsider.

Although the United States is deemed one of the most powerful and “greatest” (the words of many, including our President’s) countries in the world, it’s not exactly mom-friendly when it comes to taking time off after that baby has been born. In case you’re unclear as to just how unfriendly, you can look at that map above — what do you see? Oh, you see that the U.S. doesn’t force paid maternity leave. Did you just ask yourself: “What the fucking fuck?” Good. That’s exactly what you should have done.

If you’ve received paid maternity leave in the past, then give yourself a high-five. If you know it’s in your work contract, then give yourself a double high-five then take a shot to celebrate. But if you’re not sure as to your work’s policies or that it’s definitely not part of the deal, I suggest you find yourself a European partner with whom to procreate. Actually, let’s broaden that to the reality it is:

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A BABY, YOU SHOULD LIVE PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD BESIDES THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Are we clear on this?

While America, as a whole, is very gung-ho in believing it is far superior in all realms when it comes to everything, the truth is that we are not. I’d love to list out the facts about education and the rest of it, but since we should all be well aware of that aspect in which we fail miserably, let’s instead focus on the sexist reality that when it comes to providing for a new mother and her baby, the U.S. simply sucks. Even in what the States consider “third world” countries, women are allowed at least some paid maternity leave; we can’t say the same for us.

The United States is one of eight of 188 countries with policies on maternity leave that don’t make it mandatory. Pretty shitty for such a “progressive” country, no? Would we call this backward, ignorant or straight-up sexist? How much do you want to bet that if men could get pregnant there’d be six months mandatory paid maternity leave and a legal abortion clinic on every other block? This is not meant to get into the legality of abortion or the debate of it in other countries, but in looking at this map, how do you feel?

Oh, America. If you really think you have your shit together, you need to step up to the plate and join 2013… just like all those “third world” countries to which you look down your nose.

Via Upworthy

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    • CMJ

      I think about this almost EVERY DAY. It makes my blood boil. The only countries without paid maternity leave are: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States.

      I’m 31, my husband and I are pretty secure, and I’m seriously considering answering the dreaded: “When are you going to have babies?” question with: When the US forces a national paid maternity/paternity leave policy. The worst part is – I would love to have a baby or two. Ugh.

      • Amanda Chatel

        FRANCE. Although I know it’s not very feasible. But that’s my answer to everything these days. “How are you?” “FRANCE.”

        Seriously though, it is a blood-boiling situation. Hopefully, Obama can work on that. Hopefully.

      • CMJ

        My husband is a video editor and could probably work anywhere (I work for the feds in housing so not so much) and I keep saying…any openings in London? Sweden? Norway? I will add France to the list.

        My jerk brother (I say this lovingly, of course) is on tour and was just in Sweden…I should have asked him to get me some brochures on their policies. Wait! They are in France next week! :)

        Seriously though, it’s really a horrible situation for people who want to have children.

      • Amanda Chatel

        It is. It really is.
        But where is your jerk brother playing? Maybe I’ll go see him!

      • CMJ

        So…this place…http://silencio-club.com/en

        I think it’s some weird, members only club and David Lynch is involved but I can email my bro if you want to go.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Oh… how fancy! I just checked the map and it’s literally a few blocks away… but I get members only deals. I like to pretend that’s my entire life.

    • Fabel

      You know, I hear outrage about this all the time, but that visual actually finally did it for me. I really did not realize that most of the world gave paid maternity leave. Wtf, United States?

      • Amanda Chatel

        Are you moving to France!? Are we getting drinks here!??!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cathinka-Norløff-Mathisen/633875346 Cathinka Norløff-Mathisen

      And this is why I’m glad to be Norwegian

      • Amanda Chatel

        Exactly! Lucky lady.

    • Jules

      From my experience with paid maternity leave and all that it entails in a foreign country (Italy) I have to say that, as system, it is flawed and MANY people take advantage.

      As far as I know, the way it works is that the mother gets 5 months of paid maternity leave (around 80% paid by the govt. and the rest paid by the employer, plus contributions to pension funds, etc). If the mother has a high-risk pregnancy, she can take off from work for the remainder of her pregnancy plus the five months and be paid the entire time. I also recently learned that once a woman lets her employer know that she is pregnant, she cannot be fired until the child is at least a year old.

      This system is obviously great for employees, but employers (particularly those with small businesses) get absolutely screwed. I realize this is completely anecdotal, but one of my friends in Italy owns a hair salon and he was having a huge crisis a few months ago because two of his female employees got pregnant just a couple of months after he hired them. Conveniently, they both were deemed “high risk” and were able to take off for practically their entire pregnancies and still be paid. At that point, he had to hire two new people to come fill in, so basically he was paying taxes, benefits, etc for four employees while only having two work. The situation became even more infuriating one night when we saw one of the girls who was supposed to be on bed rest for her high risk pregnancy dancing at a festival. He confronted her and tried to fire her but he wasn’t able to, even though she was obviously faking to get a paycheck for doing nothing.

      While I hate that the U.S. is on the other side of the spectrum where people who have children get absolutely no protection or guarantees, I think that a system like the one in Italy is ripe for exploitation. There, all a woman has to do is get a certificate from her doctor saying she’s high risk and needs to not exert herself until she gives birth and her employer cannot question that, not even to ask her to get a second opinion.

      I will say that there is one thing that I really like about the Italian maternity laws. When the mother comes back to work, she is entitled to breaks throughout the day to breastfeed, pump milk, etc. I don’t think something like that would be acceptable in the U.S. right?

      I always wondered in Italy if laws like that might actually work against women, particularly young ones who are still in their childbearing years. I mean, who would want to risk taking on employees they could end up paying for almost a year to do absolutely nothing, and then be forced to keep on until their child is a year old even if they’re a horrible at their job??

      • maya delmar

        that is exactly true in situations like this.
        employers are afraid to hire women in they fertile years because of the possibility of pregnancy.
        so questions about babies and marriage status are very common

        in russia you can have about 5-6 month maternity leave which is paid.
        and you can take up to 3 years to take care of baby, but you won’t be paid (only some money from the state, which is maximum 500 dollars per month) though your job will be kept for you until you get back. And u can’t be fired. sounds great, but that’s why women are less preferable choice for employers, ever. most women take one year total, rerurning to they working place when their baby is about 1 year old.

        and what is funny – it doesnt help to raise demographics, i mean death rate is still higher than birth rate. so in that case overall economic and psycological conditions are important than maternity leave laws..

    • Tania

      Not only that, but the amount of money you guys pay to just give birth is insane.

      My cousin just had a baby a few months ago, and spent 3 nights in a private room. Their bill arrived the other day, for a grand total of $78. This made me curious, so I looked up the normal amount someone in the US would pay. $9,600 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and $15,800 for an uncomplicated c-section. Add any sort of difficulty and up the bill goes.

      That’s 123 times more for an uncomplicated vaginal birth.

    • http://twitter.com/julianathelady Shae Rosa

      I feel constant outrage about this – as someone who is hoping to start making the babies soon, it absolutely infuriates me that my company is only required to hold my job while I’m out on maternity leave. Ugh.

    • KKW

      This makes me FURIOUS. I am 11 weeks pregnant and just astounded at how impossible it is to continue to take home a decent income/nuture human life after birth. WHAT CAN WE DO about it? Why aren’t women rallying in the street and demanding protection? I found this link about a bill that died in Congress – http://www.nationalpartnership.org/site/DocServer/FAMILY_Act_Fact_Sheet.pdf?docID=11821. I live in DC, I’d love to organize a march of furious pregnant women to storm the Capitol.

    • Liz

      I think that to talk about equality we have to consider not maternity leave alone, but whether it equals paternity leave, or can be shared by both parents. If we only force maternity leaves we reinforce gender roles and give employers an excuse to prefer hiring men.