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“Being a mother is a gift of God and embracing it is an art, which takes time and requires patience.”
Recently, the Rajya Sabha passed a Bill that provides for 26 weeks maternity leave as against the existing 12 weeks. This change in Maternity Benefit Act would benefit about 1.8 million women in the organised sector. After its passage in the Lok Sabha, the changes will be notified by the Labour Ministry. Some key takeaways from the amendments in the act are the following:-
• The law will be applicable to all Private and Public establishments, employing 10 or more persons.
• The women employees who already have two or more children will get 12 weeks of leave only.
• The bill also proposes 12 weeks of maternity leave for commissioning mothers (who use surrogates or adopt a child below the age of three months).
• The bill also has a provision that would allow work-from-home option (that’s after 26 weeks of maternity leave) for nursing mothers. The employee and the employer, both have to mutually agree on the timings and duration of this arrangement.
• It also includes measures to provide crèches and day care facilities to women employees by the firms with 50 employees and the employer will also allow mothers to visit the crèche four times in a day, including the interval of rest for the mothers.
This is a progressive bill. According to research, if more women join and stay in the work force, India can add up to 700 US billion dollars of additional GDP. With the rise of nuclear families, family and social support for young parents is reducing and women are being forced to give up on their career, which in turn is a loss for the society. Furthermore, in India the number of women at entry level positions constitutes about 25 percent of the work force. At mid-level positions the number drops to 16 percent. At the senior management level the number goes further down — to 4 percent. The increase in maternity leave will definitely help bridge the disparity and will positively impact the growth of the country, points out an analyst. Once the Bill is enacted India will jump to third in the world in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave, behind Norway (44) and Canada (50).
Even though it will take a while for the Bill to become an Act, this change in the act, will go a long way in strengthening the position of women workforce (at all levels) in India; it will also help in establishing the strong foundation of the newborn babies, hence decrease in infant mortality rates and other diseases caused by unavailability of mother’s milk. Children are the future of the nation, and it is the duty of the nation to take care of its future. We mothers are the medium and we are blessed to have the privilege of feeding our milk to our child and thereby contributing to the nation we live in. So all new moms and moms-to-be, let’s take a pledge and utilize this 26-weeks of freedom to make it the best period of your life. Here are a few key points to make this time a memorable one for you:-
• Love, Love & More Love: So you are the new mommy and have no idea about what’s going on in your life. Don’t worry! Leave tensions to your doctor, in-laws, parents and partner. You just focus on the tiny-winy being that you just produced and love her unconditionally because only you can make her feel comfortable in this new planet. Shower her with your love and let her see blooming into a beautiful human-being. Give her your touch therapy; try to make eye contact with her; talk with her and tell her how much she means to you; read her stories and chant mantras. All these things will establish a great bond between you and your baby.
• Rest is Best: Post giving birth to a baby, a woman not only undergoes a physical overhauling but it also leaves an emotional turmoil in her. Giving birth is indeed a life changing experience and the mother needs time to recuperate. The best thing she can give herself is rest, not only physically but mentally also. Just leave household chores for others, at least for 3 months. Surround yourself with a peaceful environment, ask someone to help you in handling the baby and give yourself some time off from her.
• No Fuss, Just Discuss: Do not panic if – you are not able to handle her properly, the breast-milk is not sufficient, you are sleep-deprived, you miss your work and your past life, you feel you have lost looks. It is just a phase and it will pass. It is your life’s important event, rather a milestone of your life. Discuss your fears and anxieties with your loved ones and you will feel much better and calm from inside.
• Health is Wealth: This is the old saying and is very true. Health comes first – if you are not fit and fine then how can you take care of the new baby? Take balanced diet and the medicines as suggested by your doctor, on time. Start some exercise or other physical activity (post discussing with your doctor) to getting back in shape again. Because this is your time and make the best out of it!
• Contemplate: Do you really love your job? That’s the question! Think about it and take your next move accordingly. Does it really make you happy and give you satisfaction? What’s the one thing, which you are passionate about? What’s the one thing that you always wanted to do but could not pursue because of some reason? This is a great opportunity to do some introspection and find your calling.
• Be You: Motherhood is a life-changing event. But it does not mean you will forget yourself. I know things are ‘easier said than done’ but if you try then you can continue doing things, which you used to enjoy before becoming a mother. It will surely take time but it’s not impossible!
Always remind yourself- “Things will get back on track once again”!
And surely... after so many ‘Hit and Trials’, You Will Become the Master of this Art.
So, enjoy the best (mother)hood in this universe. :)
Happy Independence Day!