The Milkmen Are Coming: In Spain, Breast-Feeding Leave Not Just for Women

Filed under: News, In The News, Weird But True, Childcare, Breast-Feeding, New In Pop Culture

breast feeding dad picture

Some European countries allow men to take breast-feeding breaks. Credit: Getty Images

Do real men change diapers and breast-feed?

In Spain, apparently, the biological argument doesn't matter so much, as new dads get to check out of the office for lunch or shave 30 minutes off the clock to head home early for breast-feeding duties.

The Luxembourg high court has ruled that for the first 9 months of a baby's life, dads can take 30-minute "breastfeeding leaves" during their work day, London's Daily Telegraph reports.

"It's not fair to extend breast-feeding benefits only to women," says the European Union Court of Justice, calling it "unjustified discrimination on grounds of sex, " the newspaper says.

The ruling came when Spanish pop Pedro Manuel Roca Alvarez challenged a law that permits dads to request breast-feeding leave only if their wife, the mom, is working full time, according to the Daily Telegraph. The mother of Alvarez's child is self-employed.

The top court ruled such a refusal could have the effect of forcing self-employed mothers to limit their work because the father cannot share the parenting burden, the newspaper reports.

Not giving dads the same right as moms "is liable to ... keep men in a role subsidiary to that of women in relation to the exercise of their parental duties," the court ruled.

So, do dads really breast-feed? That's not the issue, according to the Daily Telegraph. Rather, the ruling is intended to make early infancy less stressful for both Mom and Dad, the newspaper says, adding that even though it's called breast-feeding leave, the court ruled it should really be thought of as "time purely devoted to the child."

The ruling underscores more progressive equal roles for moms and dads in child-rearing in Europe. In Sweden, according to The New York Times, 85 percent of fathers currently take paternity leave.

The United States, however, continues to lag on the national parental policy front, where states continue to lead the fight for expansions in parental leave policies, according to a report by Columbia University's Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies.

According to the report, some job-protected maternity leave is provided in 20 states, and 10 states and the District of Columbia have laws that give at least some male workers the right to job-protected paternity leave. The length of leave varies from four to 18 weeks and coverage is not universal, according to the report.

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