|Qualitative Exploration of Positive Effect of Paid Maternity Leave Reform in Iran
|Hajiieh Bibi Razeghi Nasrabad1
|1Department of Demography, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.
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Keywords : Paid maternity leave, Women"s health, Well-being, Working mothers, Fertility
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Objectives: Increased maternity leave is essential for the health of both the mother and the infant. Maternity leave in Iran was extended from six to nine months in July 2013, with the goal of encouraging and assisting working women to have more children. Whereas the effects of paid maternal leave on maternal health, family, and fertility rates are well documented in many countries, we still know little about its potential impacts in Iran. This paper aims to address this research gap by discovering the positive effect of the extension of paid maternity leave on maternal health and family well-being.
Materials and Method: The present research employed a qualitative approach. The sample included 25 employed women with maternity leave experience living in Tehran, who were determined through purposive sampling with high diversity based on theoretical saturation. The data were collected through in-depth interviews conducted in 2022, and the method of analysis was thematic analysis.
Results: From the data analysis process, the core category of "paid maternity leave as a mechanism for family well-being" was obtained. It was derived from 58 concepts, 10 sub-themes, and 3 main themes, including "maternity leave as an opportunity for a mother"s recovery," "a newborn"s mental and physical development", and "planning to resolve work-family conflict." We found clear evidence of immediate changes in birth spacing, increased duration of breastfeeding, seeking child care options, and more communication between mother and child.
Conclusion: The benefits of paid maternity leave programs are positive due to increasing the length of the breastfeeding period, reducing the level of stress and depression of the mother, shorter birth intervals, and the desire of women to continue participating in the workforce. Our findings emphasize the positive contribution of increased paid maternal leave to family well-being, which is important both from the perspective of population and health policies.
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