More Moms Shortening Maternity Leaves

About two-thirds of U.S. women are employed during pregnancy and about 70 percent of them report taking some time off, according to most recent figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The average maternity leave in the U.S. is about 10 weeks, but about half of new moms took at least five weeks, with about a quarter taking nine weeks or more, figures showed.

But a closer look shows that 16 percent of new moms took only one to four weeks away from work after the birth of a child -- and 33 percent took no formal time off at all, returning to job duty almost immediately.

That means more women are coping with pregnancy-weary bodies, the demands of a newborn and the demands of a boss -- all before the "Welcome, Baby" flowers have wilted on the bedside table.

Research has shown that shorter leaves can interfere with recommended breastfeeding duration and may contribute to higher rates of depression among new moms.

Image: Working mom, via Shutterstock

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