People Are Sharing What Parental Leave Looks Like Around The World, And I, As An American Woman, Feel Completely Stunned

    "I'm originally from the US but now I live in Germany. I honestly can't fathom having a baby in my home country."

    It's been a strange month — errr, a strange few years — being an American. Like many, I've been doing a lot of thinking since the recent fall of Roe v. Wade, especially when it comes to the issues of reproductive rights, health care, and paid family leave.

    A pregnant woman in delivery room getting ready to give birth.

    I know I'm not the only one thinking about it. Recently, a Redditor posted a New York Times map of paid leave for new mothers by country. And then the discussion started flowing as people shared their experiences with parental leave all around the world. Along with those, I also gathered some responses from the BuzzFeed Community. Here's what paid family leave looks and feels like around the world, according to people who have experienced it firsthand.

    A baby all bundled up in the hospital.

    1. "I'm originally from the US but now I live in Germany. I honestly can't fathom having a baby in my home country. In Germany, I took off roughly 19 months of maternity leave with each child: six weeks leading up to my due date and eight weeks after were fully paid. I then received a reduced salary for the other months but I continued to be insured and under a pension plan. You can theoretically take three years of parental leave here, but the third year is unpaid. The benefit it that your employer legally has to take you back after and you continue to be insured/pensioned."

    View of baby's feet with a hospital security tag on.

    2. "In the UK, we have maternity and paternity leave, but we also have a separate statutory minimum of two weeks leave for anyone giving birth. This makes it illegal to go back to work for two weeks even if you wanted to. This prevents women from being coerced into going back too soon."


    3. "In Romania, paid maternity leave is up to two years, and fathers can also request paternal leave."

    A father kissing forehead of newborn son.

    4. "In France, you get six weeks off before labor and 10 weeks after. You may shift this split to four weeks and then 12 weeks with a doctor's note. This time off is mandatory and your pay is about 90%. For a country that's sometimes touted as 'socialistic,' this paid time off doesn't seem that much. I'm grateful but I would gladly take more!"


    5. "In Austria, we have 16 weeks mandatory leave, eight before birth and eight after (or 12 if we have a C-section). There’s actually a lot of debate around this because the state literally doesn't allow women to work for the designated time away. This is seen by some feminist circles as harmful to women’s standing in the labor market. Personally, I was so glad I didn’t have to work past 32 weeks because I couldn’t sit or focus. I would have suffered through the last weeks if it weren't for the mandatory eight weeks before birth."

    A newborn yawning.

    6. "My husband and I work for the same company in the United States. We recently found out that we must SHARE our 12 weeks of unpaid leave. We originally thought we would get 12 weeks per person. America really needs to start caring about parents and families. It's especially grating because I live in a religious red state where having families is a top priority, but the government isn't actually helping people to realize that goal."


    7. "In Japan, maternity leave refers to the medical leave that mothers are entitled to take on either side of their due date. It is approximately six weeks prior to her due date and eight weeks post). There is no equivalent leave for fathers, but some employers offer leave in addition to the mandatory entitlements (such as a week or two of 'paid paternity leave') to fathers around the time of the birth."

    A sleeping newborn.

    8. "I gave birth on a Friday. By Monday morning, my husband’s boss wanted him back in the office. That was the end of his paternity leave in the US."


    9. "New York State offers paternity leave for 12 weeks where fathers make 67% of their pay, capped at $1,068.37 per week."

    Newborn baby holding on to Mothers hand while in hospital.

    10. "I'm from Kuwait and any woman giving birth gets a minimum of 70 days paid maternity leave by law. And if you work in the public sector, you can get paid leave for up to six months (or up to one year making 50% of your salary). When you are ready to go back to work the employer is not allowed to fire you either."


    11. "In Canada, we have 12 or 18 months of maternity leave. You get paid 80% of your normal salary, but you get the same amount stretched out over either the course of a year or the 18 months."

    A mother holding her baby's feet.

    12. "Norwegian men are required to take two weeks off when the baby is born. Paternal leave in total is a minimum of 15 paid weeks and two weeks right after birth."


    13. "I live in the US. I had to go without a vacation or any time off for more than two years in order to accrue the measly seven weeks of parental leave I finally took. I couldn't afford to be without a paycheck, so I went back the day after my PTO (paid time off) ran out. It was awful. My milk supply was still regulating, no one was sleeping through the night, and within a couple weeks, I was hit with serious postpartum depression. This country can afford paid leave. We are literally the worst for not providing it."

    A pregnant woman with a hand on her belly.

    14. "The best thing about Australia's parental leave is that your job is safe for a year. I took the whole year off (with my savings) and just started back at work this month. I'm in a slightly different role which suits me better now as a mum, and it was so lovely having the year off with baby knowing I had employment when I was ready to go back."


    15. "I'm in Korea. I got five days of paternity leave. I guess I could have legally taken more time but it was actively discouraged by my work."

    A newborn baby stretching her arms.

    16. Slovakia here. My wife and I just had a baby boy. She will get three years of maternity leave and I will get six months of paternity leave while making 75% of my income. We also get all sorts of one-time bonuses, tax deductions, etc. I almost feel guilty for being financially secure despite not having to work for so much time."

    A baby sleeping peacefully.

    17. "I am in no way trying to minimize the fact that I have paid leave in the UK while some countries offer none or little, but it's important to put our policy into context. We get 39 weeks of paid leave...but without an employer enhancement package (which many people don't get), people are making less than the legal minimum wage during parental leave. IMO, having some degree or paid leave shouldn't be the goal. Rather, maternity pay should be linked to minimum wage and cost of living everywhere."

    A parent holding a newborn's hand.

    18. "California teacher here. People assume that teachers get paid maternity leave (this is possibly because there are a lot of young professionals and mothers in the field), but the truth is we do NOT. We get zero days of paid leave. We get the federally mandated 12 weeks unpaid leave, but if we need financial support during that time we have to use our sick leave. This means that most of us can’t take the full 12 weeks off."

    "I think a lot of us go into teaching with the hope that it will fit well into a parenting schedule (kids at school while you’re at work, summer and winter breaks) without realizing that we have very few options when it comes to maternity leave. Furthermore, if you get pregnant before getting tenured, there is a very real chance that you could lose your position. Teachers who are not tenured are on temporary contracts. When the school year ends, so does your job, unless the school 'invites' you back. Being pregnant does not improve your odds."


    19. "In Germany, each parent can take up to three years of parental leave per child. In the case of the mother, this three years includes a legally prescribed six weeks after birth, during which the mother must stay home. Fathers can start parental leave at childbirth. Both parents have to take at least a part of parental leave before the child turns three and parental leave must conclude before the child's eighth birthday. Aside from these rules, parents are free to choose the beginning and end of their parental leave."

    Mother with her newborn baby in the hospital.

    20. "In Portugal, we have four months paid at 100% of our salary or five months paid at 87%. You can extend maternity leave to sixth months and Social Security will still pay around 40%. The father has to take a mandatory 10 to 15 days after the birth and can take a full month after the mother's leave — all 100% paid. Even if they are unemployed, parents get paid to stay home with the baby. Children have free medical care until their 18th birthday too, in the public healthcare system."


    21. "I live in Israel where there is a mandatory 15 weeks of paid parental leave. The first six weeks must be taken by the one who gave birth, but I decided to go back to work part-time (just five hours a week) and transfer the rest of my mandated leave to my husband, who got to take the rest of the time paid. Payment for parental leave is calculated by your last three pay stubs. You are paid the total amount you earned over the last three pay stubs per month. I couldn't be fired within six months of returning...and I could quit within the first year to take care of my kid and would get the same benefits as if I was fired."

    A mother cradling the head of her newborn.

    22. "Costa Rica is a third-world country, but we still have four months of paid maternity leave. In government jobs, even men have one month to help. All mothers have daily paid time to breastfeed and it is mandatory to supply a healthy environment for them to do so."


    23. "In New Zealand, you can have up to 36 weeks of paid leave. The government pays either parent about $450 a week after tax regardless of what your salary is. Your employer also has to keep your job for you and follow a full integration process. We also have mandatory four weeks of paid leave each year and ten paid sick days. It’s absolutely scary to think about jobs with no paid leave."

    A newborn baby in a bed.

    24. "In Belgium, I have to take a mandatory week of leave before my due date (but I can take up to six weeks before my due date). Then there is a mandatory nine weeks postpartum, but it can be extended by the five optional weeks before delivery. This amounts to 14 weeks in total. I get paid 90% of my salary the first month and then about 80% for the following months. My husband gets 20 work days off. I also get protection against termination from the moment I notify my job."


    25. "Brazilian here. In Brazil, mothers have four months off while they make 100% of their salary. The other parent gets five days. The biggest companies are typically part of a government program called Citizen Company, which offers fully paid maternity leave for six months and paternity leave of 20 days. Also, mothers can't be fired for five months after returning to work. It's not enough, but it's something."

    Father holding newborn daughter

    26. "I was a resident doctor during my pregnancy. I worked until the day I was scheduled to be induced. I then had six weeks off, and I also used my four vacation weeks for the year. I had 'saved' two weeks from my previous years in residency. My husband got three days off after our baby was born. He took two weeks of 'vacation' after and I went back to work. Our baby was in daycare by nine weeks old. The US is abysmal for parental leave."


    27. Australian here. We get 18 weeks of maternity leave at minimum wage (which I believe is about $750 per week). Many employers will 'top up' that amount to your normal salary. My employer pays 16 weeks at full pay on top of the 18 weeks. I also have nine weeks of annual leave available, so I'm taking those weeks at half pay simultaneously. It's also worth noting that in Australia the average sick leave is 10 days per year but it accumulates. For example, I currently have 120 sick days available to me. If I switch employers though, it resets to zero."

    A newborn baby.

    28. "I'm in Canada and I took my leave starting at 33 weeks. I make 100% of my salary for 15 weeks. The government covers 55% and my job tops up the payments. After 15 weeks, I'm taking up tp 37 weeks at 55% pay, which is $595 a week. My significant other is taking 10 weeks at the same."


    29. "In Sweden we have three months of paid leave for each parent. Then a couple gets 300 days that they can divide between parents as they see fit."

    A pregnant woman sitting on a bed.

    30. "Here in Uruguay we're about to have our first baby. My wife gets three months off and I get 13 consecutive days, all paid for by the government. After that, one of us can take three more months fully paid by the government too."


    31. "I come from Moldova, which is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Here, you get three years paid plus three years unpaid maternity leave. You don't get paid very much... I believe you make 70% of your salary for the first year and 30% after that, but at least your employer has to keep your job. Coming to work after one year of maternity leave is considered careerist here."

    Two women with a newborn.

    I would love to hear about your experience with parental leave. Where are you from and what was it like for you? Tell me in the comments.