Worthing mum joins calls for maternity leave extension due to coronavirus crisis
A first-time Worthing mother who is due to return to work as a teacher in July is calling on the Government to extend maternity leave due to the coronavirus crisis.
The mother, who asked not to be named, is one of more than 220,000 people who have signed a petition appealing for an extra three months of paid leave for new mothers.
She said the lockdown meant she had missed out on ‘crucial’ development experiences and bonding time with other babies and family members.
Having a few more months to adjust would make ‘a huge difference’, she said.
Due to a weeks-long recovery after ‘a very difficult pregnancy and a traumatic birth’ in December, the mother was only able to start attending baby groups in March.
However the meet-ups were soon suspended due to the virus outbreak.
She and her husband suddenly found themselves alone, without a support network of other new parents, having to figure out how to care for their newborn by themselves.
She said: “We didn’t get to do all the social bonding, I didn’t meet any mothers.
“Being a first time mum, you have no clue. We are just exhausted day in and day out.
“My confidence has also been deeply effected and I now even get anxious leaving the house for a walk.”
Her 39 weeks’ maternity leave is almost over and the date of her return to work is looming closer.
But due to the lockdown, the mother has been unable to visit or decide upon a nursery.
The thought of leaving her son with strangers, and even his grandparents who he has not seen in months, makes her anxious.
“This inevitably will be very unsettling for him as he has not had time to build those special bonds with them,” she said.
The mother said coming across the petition made her feel less alone for the first time and she has now joined a Facebook group of other mums in the same situation.
“It’s been amazing just talking to people who are all having the same struggles,” she said.
Like many others, she said she could not afford to take further unpaid leave.
“I don’t think we should have to be in that position,” she said. “We’ve missed out on our maternity leave.”
She said having that extra time would mean that, as the lockdown is slowly eased, she might be able to attend socially-distanced baby groups, allowing her son to gently adjust to being around others.
The petition now has enough signatures to be debated in Parliament – view it here.
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