Most, if not all countries have maternity leave as written by law, which indicates paid leave and healthcare benefits bestowed to a female worker when she takes off from work after the birth of her child.
In the Philippines, the new maternity leave regulations are provided by the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law (RA 11212 or EML), which applies to women who work in the public and commercial sectors, the informal economy, the Social Security System (SSS), and national athletes. According to the Act, a woman must have worked as an employee at an establishment for at least 80 days in the previous 12 months in order to be eligible for maternity benefits. The average daily wage for the actual absence period is used to determine how much will be paid during the leave period.
While such an exclusive right is given for rest, it is imperative that mothers make the best out of it. Dealing with a newborn baby and aiding up for self-recovery takes a lot of effort. Hence, here are a few ways you can optimize your maternity leave.
Your Body after Your Baby
Such drastic physical changes come during pregnancy and usually expounds after. A woman’s body already undergoes so many phases in the usual cycle of her life, and all these become extra after labor. Most common symptoms and changes are seen in physical appearance but emotional shifting strikes a huge impact, too. Postpartum discomforts are common after labor and these vary from woman to woman. It is important for a mother to learn and reflect about her own discomforts; in that way, she is able to discern how to carefully go through it before it takes a toll on the physical, emotional, and mental well being of herself and the people around her.
Here are some of the common things a newly-turned mother may experience after birth and how she can optimize her maternity leave to aid for it:
Following a vaginal birth, pelvic or perineal pain and discomfort are normal. This is due to the force exerted which tires out the muscles and extracts the bones. The time it takes for these symptoms to go away depends on how much swelling or tearing there was. Here are ways to lessen discomfort:
- Ice packs
- Warm baths
- Anesthetic spray
- Wound exposure
C-section mothers typically stay in the hospital for up to five days following delivery. There, nurses encourage them to get up and move around within 24 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Moving can hasten the healing process, but moderation is key. When they are discharged, doctors usually give them the truth about how soreness and discomfort may last until 2 weeks after labor. Here are things you have to be reminded of:
- Do not stretch and carry heavy stuff
- Ask your doctor for pain relievers prescription
- Get enough rest and sleep; stay in line with baby
- Follow proper breastfeeding positions recommended
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sweating all the time
Your body eliminates the blood and tissue that were inside your uterus after you give birth to your child. This is referred to as lochia, or vaginal discharge. It is thick, bright crimson, and may have blood clots during the first few days. The flow becomes lighter in color and less frequent with time. You might experience discharge for a few weeks, maybe even a month or longer. Here are some tips in dealing with it:
- Use sanitary pads or panty-liners
- Wash outer part of vagina three-four times a day
- Change panties from time to time
Your breasts will enlarge as the milk in them begins to expand. Typically, it occurs a few days following childbirth. Your breasts might feel achy and painful. Once you begin breastfeeding frequently, the discomfort usually disappears. It may last until your breasts cease producing milk if you aren’t breastfeeding, which typically happens within a few days.
When urinating in the first few days after giving birth, you could experience pain or burning (pee). Or perhaps you try to urinate but are unsuccessful. You might not always be able to control your urination. We refer to this as incontinence. Once your pelvic muscles are once more strong, it typically fades away.
- Always use warm water in bathing
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
- Kegel exercises are suggested but not necessarily
Many women experience postpartum depression (commonly known as PPD), which is a medical disorder that is classified as intense emotions of anxiety, over concern, exhaustion, and sadness that may persist for a long time and usually begins after birth delivery. A mother may find it challenging to care for both themselves and their infant as a result of these feelings. Most mothers develop this right after birth, some experience its reflection after two to three weeks, but research had shown that it may persist even three years after. This, of course, may depend on the mother’s emotional capacities and could be affected or triggered by the environment she is in. While it’s a common symptom, the lifestyle of a mother which encompasses her whole being plays a huge role in its development and recovery.
Here are some of the signs of postpartum depressions:
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Insomnia or inability to sleep
- Depressed feeling for most of the day
- Constant pressure, guilt, and failure
- Severe mood swings throughout time
- Little to no interest in most things
- Less or over eating for coping mechanism
- Concentration and decision-making issues
- Thinking about self-harm and self restraint
- Difficulty having an emotional bond with baby
- Urge to hurt either yourself or your baby
Here are the few things to be reminded of when you are experience postpartum depression:
- Consult a medical and psychological doctor and have yourself checked
- Have time to internalize past experiences which may be affecting you
- Drink prescribed medicine and follow instructions from professionals
Maternity leave is a right given to female workers after birth for their recovery and personal healthcare. Hence, the time allotted for it should be utilized for the optimization of betterment to pass the struggles of labor. You may optimize your maternity leave by indulging the normal aftermath of labor and eventually pushing through recuperation. A speedy recovery is not only beneficial for you but also the environment you move around in, especially your newborn. Caring for yourself throughout this time period is the best gift you can give yourself and your child.