These 5 countries offer the best maternity leave



Pregnancy and childbirth, while a precious experience, are also exhaustive for women.

All the time you get to spend with your little one to care and nourish are never enough. That is why, maternity breaks and care packages are important too.

Maternity breaks are important!

Several studies say that mothers who get time to bond in the initial months help fuel the baby’s development as well as improve their own physical and mental health. It also encourages more women to breastfeed, attend to their needs, reduce the risk of postpartum depression, fatigue, and better relationship.

Hence, taking time off work for pregnancy and childbirth is important. In a world where women account for 40% workforce, good maternity leave policies help new moms feel supported and well-cared for.

According to UNICEF, parental leaves, taken at the beginning of a child’s early years are critical and contribute to their brain development and future. UNICEF advocated granting a minimum of six months of paid leaves for parents and access to quality healthcare and facilities.

Despite this, the maternity leaves granted to women vary significantly around the world. Here is taking a look at some of the leading countries of the world and the benefits:

1. Sweden

Sweden is considered to be one of the most friendly places for families and the benefits range right from the time a woman gets pregnant. Promoting a progressive, gender-equal work environment, the government offers up to 480 days of paid maternity leave. In fact, fathers too are entitled to paternity benefits. Apart from these, the country also lets women employed in strenuous or demanding jobs to take time off during the early days, apart from the option to shorten the work hours by 25%.

2. Norway

The Norwegian government is considered to promote the need for maintaining a work-life balance and this extends to working parents. Depending on the job, 49-50 weeks, fully paid maternity breaks are offered to moms.

3. Croatia

Hailed as a women-friendly country, Croatia takes good care of working women, especially those who are pregnant. For starters, women are allowed the option to take up to a year of paid maternal leave, apart from claiming benefits like free pre and postnatal medical care, the option to take breastfeeding breaks while working and be safe from firings and dismissals during the said period.

4. United Kingdom

In England, it is considered to be a standard practice to allow expecting women to take up to 39 weeks worth maternity leave, with pay cuts. However, there is a catch to it. Pregnant women can take leaves only 11 weeks before the due date, with exceptions made only if the baby is born early. Women are also allowed the facility to avail of free childbirth, postnatal care in certain registered hospitals. While the benefits vary, according to a study conducted by UNICEF, the UK was also considered to be the least family-friendly country in Europe.

5. India

After the amendment to the Maternal Benefit Act, India joined the ranks of countries offering women good childcare and maternity benefits. According to the bill, women can claim up to 26 weeks of paid maternity break. The bill also made it mandatory for companies (with over 50 employees) to offer a creche for women coming back to the workforce. At 26 weeks, the figure is a good one for the ranks of a developing country, faring better than countries like China, Pakistan, Singapore, Germany, and even the United States.

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