Maternity Leave 2.0: Women Are Going Back to Work in Record Time

Maternity Leave 2.0: Women Are Going Back to Work in Record Time

These days, it's not unusual to see a soon-to-be mother working alongside her colleagues until she's just about ready to deliver.

At least, it's much more common compared to past generations.

According to new findings from the Pew Research Center, the number of pregnant women who continue to work within one month of their due date has more than doubled in the last 50 years.

In fact, not only are more expectant mothers clocking in longer into their pregnancy—they're also returning to the office much sooner after giving birth.

In the 1960s, 65% of women stopped working more than a month before delivering. By 2008, the norm had shifted—with as many as 82% punching in far into their final month.


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What's more, in the early 1960s, just 21% of mothers returned to work within six months of having their first child. But of moms who had their little ones between 2005 and 2007, a whopping 73% headed back to the office within that first half year.

While Pew doesn't spell out a precise reason for the trend reversal, the mounting financial responsibility of caring for a child, coupled with families' increasing reliance on two incomes and the lack of federally mandated paid maternity leave are probably big contributing factors.

Still, there is some positive news: more mothers today are taking advantage of paid leave—including state-mandated or company-wide leave, as well as vacation time and sick days, Pew points out.

In the late 2000s, more than half of women used paid leave while pregnant or in the 12 weeks after birth—that's up from just 37% of new working mothers in the 1980s.

RELATED: The New Price of Parenting: $245,000


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