I had no idea that mothers could spend weeks, sometimes months of their maternity leave visiting and attending to their sick and tiny babies in hospital. I had no idea and no reason to know… until it happened to me.
‘You’re maternity leave will start tomorrow’, the hospital support worker told me.
I was standing over an incubator at the time, just hours after giving birth suddenly and with little warning.
At breakfast time I was 30 weeks pregnant getting ready to go to work; now it was lunchtime and I was a new mum – I couldn’t quite take in what she was saying.
I was meant to be at work right now, but instead I was leaving the hospital empty and without my baby.
The next day my boss emailed me – ‘Congratulations!’ ‘HR say your maternity leave will begin today’.
Could that really be true? It must be; it was written in front of me in black and white – but it was still difficult to believe.
When would I be able to catch up on that precious time missed?
Maternity leave matters for mothers of premature babies – That’s why when we asked “Should maternity leave be extended for mothers for very premature babies be extended?” more than 95% of people responded yes!
We’ve written before about the need to extend maternity leave for mothers of babies born too soon; the financial cost of NICU, the time needed for mother and baby to bond, the time needed to establish feeding, the time needed for baby to develop and grow and the time needed for mum to recover from what is often a traumatic experience.
This time is already given in other European countries where maternity leave is extended for mothers of premature babies and we will continue to campaign for this much needed change here in the UK.