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Pregnancy brings up so many questions, including the inevitable: When should you start your maternity leave? Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that taking maternity leave before and after the birth of a baby is a good health investment for both moms and newborns, the Wall Street Journal reports. Most new moms take at least some time off work after bringing home baby, but far fewer take advantage of the leave before the little one's arrival, researchers note.
Women who work right up until delivery are more likely to have a Cesarean section, researchers in the two-studies effort said. They also found that the longer a new mother delays going back to work, the more likely she is to breastfeed. Other studies and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend nursing because it's been shown that it decreases the risk of allergies, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
As we've reported in the past, U.S. maternity benefits are lagging. Out of 173 countries worldwide, the United States is one of only five that doesn't guarantee paid leave to give birth and care for a newborn. The group MomsRising advocates for maternity and paternity leave and other family issues. For more information or to join the group's efforts, visit momsrising.org.
While you're still on the job, check out our Working Woman's Guide to Pregnancy to see how you can stay fit and healthy and employed until your due date. Plus, 10 Challenges, 10 Solutions for a detailed look at working moms' issues.