Modern moms in the workforce are using maternity leave to simultaneously benefit their families and their employers.
Today’s first-time mothers are very different than those of previous generations. Women are working later into pregnancy, sometimes right up to their due dates. Women aren’t just returning to their jobs after giving birth — they’re returning sooner than ever. Even the number of women who worked during pregnancy has steadily risen.
First-time moms are working longer
According to a Department of Labor report, only 44.4% of first-time mothers in 1961-1965 worked during pregnancy, while 65.6% of first-time mothers in 2006-2008 worked full time. One of the largest differences between modern first-time moms and those of the early 1960s is when moms stopped working during pregnancy. The vast majority of first-time moms worked up until one month or less before their due date in 2006-2008 (81.6%), compared with only about a third of first-time moms in 1961-1965 (34.6%). The most popular time for first-time moms of the 1960s to stop work was three to five months before their due date (35.4%).
First-time moms are utilizing maternity leave policies
Even 25 years ago, maternity leave was used differently by first-time moms. In 1981-1985, 33.7% of first-time moms used unpaid leave, in comparison with 42.4% of first-time moms in 2006-2008. This gap can most likely be attributed to 35.7% of first-time moms in the 1980s quitting post-birth, in comparison with the lower 21.9% of modern-day moms. Modern first-time moms are more likely to use maternity leave (paid and unpaid) to help them nurture their newborns and return to work.
First-time moms are returning to work
While societal attitudes about women working and mothers returning to work post-birth have changed, maternity leave and benefits policies are also improving and contributing to the changes. The good news for employers is that women today are returning to the workforce post-birth more often than previous generations. Eighty percent of mothers who returned to work within 12 months of giving birth returned to the same employer.
As an employer, it is important to foster support and provide resources to first-time moms, helping them make their transition back into the workforce, and fostering their long-term happiness and success. When you can make a difference in your employees’ lives, you are rewarded with loyalty, engagement, and improved productivity.