New Moms’ Health Thrives When Their Partners Are Home Too, Study Shows

There’s a lot we can learn from Sweden.
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ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
Jun 2019
new dad holding his newborn baby
Photo: Kay Fochtmann

A woman’s health benefits when their partner is able to take time off after they have a child, a new study says. The findings were published in the National Bureau of Economic Research and reported on by Business Insider.

Researchers examined the effects of a reform in Sweden that introduced more flexibility into the parental leave system. The 2012 law removed a prior restriction preventing a child’s mother and father from taking paid leave at the same time. The new law then allowed fathers to use up to 30 days of paid leave on an intermittent basis within a year of their child’s birth while the mothers were still on leave. The policy change not only made it easier for fathers to be more involved, but it also helped moms’ mental health too.

There’s a lot going on for a new mom during the postpartum period. Not only do women have to allow themselves time to physically heal from childbirth, but grappling with postpartum emotions can be difficult in and of itself. While having your partner home during this period won’t be able to rid you of all your troubles, it can certainly help. Just knowing their significant other is there to help out with the newborn can improve mothers’ mental health. In fact, researchers found mothers are 14 percent less likely to visit a doctor for childbirth-related complications when fathers are present during the early days of baby’s life. They’re also 11 percent less likely to require antibiotic prescriptions, and 26 percent less likely to need anti-anxiety medication.

Another interesting takeaway was the average new dad used paid leave for only a few days—much less than the maximum 30 days allowed. It shows how far a few extra days of support can go for a new mom.

Wondering how the rest of the world’s policies stack up? Click here to check out maternity leave policies and parental perks around the globe.

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