Women ‘would opt to split maternity’

MORE than half of Irish women would split their maternity leave with their partner – if they could, new research reveals.

It also found more than two-thirds of women would prefer to stay at home rather than go back to work after their baby is born.

The nationwide survey of 1,000 women commissioned by Quinn Healthcare examined women’s attitudes to motherhood and the workplace.

Half of the women surveyed found it difficult to settle back into working outside the home after their maternity leave ended.

The study also revealed younger woman were more keen to get back to work and to split their maternity leave with their partner, if possible.

Half of women aged between 16 and 24 would prefer to go back to work. But women over the age of 35 found the idea of being a stay at home mum more attractive, with over 72% saying they would stay at home, given the choice.

On the question of home births, only 20% of women thought it was a safe option. Just 12% of younger women thought it was safe. And just over three-quarters of women agreed that breast feeding was healthiest for babies.

Quinn Healthcare’s occupational health advisor, Sarah O’Neill, said all the evidence suggested it could be a real challenge for women to integrate motherhood and work.

“The cost of crèches and child minding facilities may be a factor in this, particularly in the current economic climate,” she said.

Ms O’Neill advised working mothers to talk to their employers about their specific needs after having a baby.

Women should ensure they are fully aware of their maternity entitlements before going on leave and ask their boss about taking parental leave on returning to work, she said.

They should also be very aware of the rules that apply if their child becomes sick.


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