Aussies recommend 18 weeks paid maternity leave

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baby feetThe Australian government may allow new mothers 18 weeks paid maternity leave so they can spend more time with their newborns. Under the same plan, dads would be allowed two weeks of paid leave, as well.

The scheme (and I love how they call it a scheme) would let parents and babies be together during those critical first months without worrying about their jobs or their financial situation. The plan would help every parent, but is specifically designed to ease pressures on mothers who work in low-income jobs that don't offer maternity leave.

Aussie moms who stay at home already receive some benefits from the government, and would not be adversely affected by the $450 million plan.

Can you imagine? Eighteen whole weeks of paid maternity leave? Granted, the government only intends to pay out the equivalent of minimum wage, but most U.S. corporations only offer four to six weeks of fully paid maternity leave, and after that you're on your own.

I had a c-section with my first baby, and because of that I had an extra two weeks off, for a grand total of eight weeks. That sounds like a lot of time, but in reality it is the blink of an eye. I personally couldn't bear to leave my daughter, and so I decided to quit my job. Making such a serious financial decision wasn't easy, but it was easier than trying to let go of those fleeting newborn weeks.

I'm not sure 18 weeks of paid maternity leave would have led me to a different path, but I never had the chance to find out because we Americans haven't yet realized how important it is to allow moms the time to be with their babies. On the other hand, I know plenty of women who couldn't wait to get back to work.

How about you? Would you want 18 weeks off after the baby, or were you itching to get back to work?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.