We pride ourselves over a lot of things. Our military has the biggest stick, our economy has the most bank (despite what it looks like right now) and we are probably one of the most mixed and tolerant nations in the world.

Too bad we don’t really take good care of our mothers that much. Heck, we don’t even mandate paid maternity leave for our new moms. But how do we compare with our northern neighbor, Canada?

Here’s a quick list to put things in perspective:

Canada mandates leaves and benefits, with moms being able to take 17 to 52 weeks of leave depending on employment length and hours worked. The best part is that employers are mandated to take the moms back as employees with the same benefits. The country even has an employment insurance plan for both mother and father, where they can share the weeks of leave while receiving a portion of their pay if they qualify for it.

The USA, on the other hand, imposes a mere 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of medical conditions – childbirth included – and is the result of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993.

In fact, according to ThinkProgress, out of 178 nations, the U.S. is one of three that does not offer paid maternity leave benefits that more than 50 of these nations offer.

This would be pretty neat except for two big loopholes – mothers get no benefits while on leave and small businesses with no more than 50 employees are exempt from this unpaid leave. This means that the financial pressure of taking that 12 week leave without pay will keep pressing these women down, especially since they have to make hard choices between their paycheck and their families.

And here’s how USA stacks up to 14 other countries:

USA Lags Behind Other Countries in Maternity Care
Image Source: ThinkProgress

I know that we’re all about self-sufficiency, but the burdens of being a new mother is not as easy as most people think. Giving our moms a ‘launching pad’ to better recover from childbirth is key to keeping a valuable source of labor productive and competitive.

Cutting off moms without any maternity benefits is like punishing them for getting pregnant, and the last thing we want to do is to grow old without any kids to take over the reins of our country – especially with birth rates dropping around the country.

Last updated: June 15, 2012 by & filed under Blog

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