• Tue, Jul 17 2012

‘I Didn’t Take Maternity Leave’: 4 True Stories

Yesterday newly appointed Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced that she and her husband were expecting their first child. She is due in October which will be only three months after she has started her new job. “I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she says.“My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.” To be precise, it will be three weeks. Now we know Marissa Mayer is different than most people. After all, this is the woman who said there are 130 productive work hours in a week if you shower strategically and she doesn’t really believe in the concept of burnout. But maybe Marissa’s choice to not take a full maternity leave isn’t that rare? We spoke with some other women who looked at maternity leave as only an option.

Women are increasingly tending to work during pregnancy. Among those with a first birth between 2006 and 2008, the portion who worked during pregnancy reached 66%, compared with 44% for those with a first birth between 1961 and 1965. Among women who worked during pregnancy, about 82% of those with a first birth between 2006 and 2008 worked until one month or less before their child’s birth, compared with 73% for those with a first birth between 1991 and 1995. Those rates are up from about 35% for a first birth between 1961 and 1965. Among women who worked during pregnancy, about 59% with a first birth between 2005 and 2007 were back at work three months after the baby’s arrival, compared with 57% for a first birth between 1991 and 1994, and 17% between 1961 and 1965. Women with at least a high-school diploma were more likely to return to work within three months after giving birth.

Hope Oriabure-King told The Grindstone:

“I have had four children while being a working professional in corporate America and ALWAYS worked up to the minute (day I went into labor) and almost always returned and went back to work within a week.   Throughout the four pregnancies I worked for only one company that offered a significant maternity leave (six paid weeks and I could take up to six months off unpaid).  With this pregnancy I worked at a Fortune 500 company and actually was pregnant when I started.  If I had been a small business I doubt I would have been hired in the first place or given any paid leave of any kind.   My last pregnancy I worked at a boutique web development firm.  They offered no paid maternity leave so I saved up all my personal days which equaled a week.  I was at my desk the day before I delivered. I had plans to go in the following morning despite knowing I was in labor because I had a meeting set up.  But the contractions were too close together.  However, while laboring I took phone calls and made phone calls to check on my business development deals.  And worked from my hospital bed the next day.”

Photo: NotarYES/Shutterstock.com

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  • Heather

    Tell me what is the point of actually having a child if you return back to work within days of giving birth? Why procreate? Why bother having 4 kids?