Is this a family friendly proposal?

In the headlines today, a ‘family friendly’ Queen’s speech (ITV)  is being promised. The government says there is plenty they want to do to help alleviate some of the pressure we’re all feeling right now. And yet this report from HR magazine paints a picture with a totally different brush. So does the Queen really intend to announce a reduction of maternity leave to jsut 18 weeks? Is this really a family friendly proposal?

Kylie is blogging about this today over at Not even a bag of sugar. Her son was born premature at just 27 weeks gestation and as a new mother, she faced weeks and weeks of extended travelling to and from the hospital every day. With just 18 weeks maternity leave, she would not have been able to form essential bonds with her son. In today’s blog post she writes:

“I would have used 13 weeks leave before my baby was even due, leaving just 5 weeks left. When my son was 5 weeks corrected he wasn’t even 7lb. He was still frail.”

So the government want women like Kylie to leave their babies when they need them most?

What would this mean for mums who did see their pregnancies through to the end? Ghostwritermummy was created as an outlet after the traumatic birth of my son, who was born at 41 weeks and two days. He was born blue, limp and lifeless. When he was plucked from my body I was asleep. He was alone.

I spent the first weeks of his life moving through the days in a murky bubble. I couldn’t believe, at first, that he was even my baby. I had missed his birth. I hadn’t heard those first cries or felt his little body against mine. My arms were dead when they placed him  in them and my eyes were blurred when I tried to see him. I struggled, and I mean struggled to love him.

When my son was around eight months old, I ventured out to seek help. That’s around 34 weeks after his birth. But my maternity leave had started four weeks before his due date, 5 weeks before he was actually born. With proposed new maternity leave, I would be returning to work when my son was 13 weeks old. Where was I when my son was 13 weeks old?

I was not a mother to him. I was a mess.





My son’s health also suffered. At the age of 13 weeks he was referred to a specialist at the hospital, and today- two years on- we are about to attend another appointment for him. At the age of 13 weeks, my son was sleeping for no more than 40 minutes at a time. In between, he was crying, and so was I. My son and I were strangers.

Imagine if I had gone back to work then? How would I teach a room full of children when I was barely able to hold my own baby without an ocean of emotions washing over me again and again and again and again and again? Where would my son and I be now? What would our relationship be like now?

Kylie ends her post today with a statement about her anger. How it wasn’t her fault her baby was born prematurely. How the proposed changes would mean she is forced to miss out on so much of her precious son’s life. I have to echo these feelings. It wasn’t my fault my son was born the way he was (at least, today I don’t think it was…but that’s another blog post). I am angry that women like me could be forced back to work at a time when they are so vulnerable and so frightened. That is NOT good for the family.

Today, I still live with the knowledge that I owe so much to my son. With a new baby in the family, lots has changed but so much still remains. I missed the most important days of my son’s life. I will never get those days back again and I refuse to let the government take them away too. And for women, like me now, who delivered their babies healthily and happily? Would I be happy returning to work in a few weeks time? No way. My daughter needs me. Breastfeeding aside, she is TOO YOUNG to be left whilst I go back to work. As Kylie ends her letter to the minister:

“This isn’t the last you will hear from me”

and you know what? It’s not the last he’ll hear from me, either.


18 Comments on Is this a family friendly proposal?

  1. TalesofaTwinMum
    May 9, 2012 at 9:27 am (4 years ago)

    And what about parents of multiples too? There is no way I could have gone back to work so soon after having my twins. Just getting through the day was difficult enough, without having the worry looming over me that I’d need to go back to work after just a few weeks and with very little little sleep to see me through the day. The proposed cuts will hit so many families so hard. It will make couples think long and hard about having more children, which is a real shame. It’s not like they’re proposing a slight cut – it’s a huge cut that will make families struggle to make ends meet. Well done for highlighting some of the problems. x

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 9, 2012 at 9:33 am (4 years ago)

      Really good point. How on earth would mums of multiples manage with childcare, working, breastfeeding etc. Maternity leave is essential to ensure that your child is cared for when they need it most. And with two? Double necessity. Also, government suggests weaning at 6 months so are they going to ensure workplaces are equipped with nurseries and breastfeeding facilities for those women who are breastfeeding? I can’t take my baby to school with me and I certainly can’t drive 45 mins there and back to feed her at nursery!! Silly, silly proposals. Thanks for highlighting the issues with multiples.

    • Kylie @kykaree
      May 9, 2012 at 11:48 am (4 years ago)

      Just to reassure you, there’s a committee of charities petitioning about this and TAMBA is one of them, so there is a voice for parents of multiples, but we all have a responsibility to be vocal about this.

      • ghostwritermummy
        May 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm (4 years ago)

        Thanks Kylie. And I agree. We should all be shouting about this!

  2. Lucy at Dear Beautiful Boy
    May 9, 2012 at 9:58 am (4 years ago)

    Why is it that when all the evidence from countries on the continent with longer maternity leave and children starting school later, are our government so keen to go the opposite way?
    All I can see happening is a reduction in children as people wait longer to have them until they have money saved up so that they don’t have to go back to work at all. Surely that backfires for the government who are desperate for mums to go back to work and start paying taxes again rather than staying home.
    And how on earth this could qualify as family-friendly is baffling to me. Even if they are proposing better pay for those 18 weeks, it’s still far to soon for the majority of mums and babies to be even considering it. It’s not even half a year. I still felt like I was finding my feet at 6 months.

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 9, 2012 at 11:08 am (4 years ago)

      I totally agree. If this had been passed, I would be returning to work in 1 week! And Isobel is still breastfeeding 2-3 hourly! Just how that would work, I have NO idea!

  3. Helen
    May 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm (4 years ago)

    This proposal has left me so angry as it would mean I would have had to go back to work on Monday and I think leaving my son so soon would have been utterly detrimental to us both. After a traumatic birth I’m only just feeling that I’m getting the hang of things but one small trigger can still send me back to square one and it can take a few days for me to rebuild my confidence.
    Even without a the traumatic birth, Henry is still feeding every 3-4 hours and not yet sleeping through, on Sunday he was up all night and although that’s not the norm it still happens about once every 10 days so I’d be no use to my employer on those days after no sleep. Also he had his 2nd lot of jabs yesterday and is due another set in 5 weeks, had I been back to work who would have taken him?? I am not prepared to have him experience that with anyone other that me and my husband.
    I adore breastfeeding but the beginning was a huge struggle and I don’t think I would/could have persevered knowing I would have to give up within a couple of months because with an hour commute I wouldn’t have a choice.
    Henry was 2 weeks late which, with a year off I only thought about how uncomfortable I was, had I known I was only having 18 weeks off I would have been beside myself because I wouldn’t have been able to alter my leaving date.
    Sorry for rambling but I feel this is a complete step backwards and will do so much more harm than good as I think the rate of PND will shoot up and the rate of breastfeeding will plummet.

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm (4 years ago)

      I agree. And for women with PND, how will she cope with a sudden pressure to return to work? Its just wrong. Thank you so much for your comments


  4. Beadzoid
    May 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm (4 years ago)

    There is nothing family friendly about this proposal.

    Like you, I suffered the hell that was PTSD arising from birth trauma. Like Kylie I delivered my baby at 27 weeks through no fault of my own. Like thousands of women every year I spent weeks (11 in total) travelling to be with my baby in her NICU/SCBU incubator. The financial costs were huge (my baby was never in the same town as me – even at the SCBU transfer back to birth hospital stage) and the emotional impact was devastating.

    Women who have as horrendous a start to motherhood as we did need more than 18 weeks. But so do those mothers who have the ‘perfect’ birth experience. 18 weeks is not enough for any mother who is not yet ready to go back to work, and it is also not enough time to be mentally ready to tackle the boss in a bid to ‘negotiate’ more time.

    This shifts the balance of power away from the mother. It is just plain wrong.

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm (4 years ago)

      You’re right, it takes all the power away from mum and leaves the family upside down! It IS wrong. Thanks for your comments my dear

      • Beadzoid
        May 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm (4 years ago)

        My pleasure, seen lots of strong opinions invoked by this stupid policy! Let’s hope we can do something to stop it xx

  5. Minty
    May 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm (4 years ago)

    Lucy makes a great point! As does this post. All the headlines are saying it’s more flexibility for parents – sounds great in theory – but typically, scratch the surafce and it turns out to be a whole load of political bull.

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 10, 2012 at 6:46 am (4 years ago)

      She does. They’re dressing it up to be some kind of fantastic equality thing but I know for sure we would suffer financially if ghostwriterdaddy took leave. We are barely scraping through on mat pay as it is!

  6. kate
    May 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm (4 years ago)

    New mums are made to feel so guilty about everything. We’re under so much pressure to do what’s best for the baby, breast feeding until 6 months is just one example, and now the government are adding to that pressure! Surely what’s best is for mum and baby to be given time to form those vital bonds? Give us mums a break and let us nurture our babies! It’s difficult enough to juggle working life and family life let alone afford it! Surely we deserve those precious few months with our babies before we’re forced to return to work.

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 10, 2012 at 6:45 am (4 years ago)

      I agree. Mums feel so much guilt all the time and going back to work is a massive one. Especially if you are the main earner in the household.

  7. Spencer
    May 15, 2012 at 1:09 am (4 years ago)

    I am a great believer that Mums and Dads (Mums especially) ought to be given at least 1 year, with additional help (similar to how they do it in Norway I think) with new additions to the family.
    It seems with governments since the days of the iron lady seem completely detached of anything other than pandering to any view that will make someone (usually already rich) more money.
    This is just another infringement on any sacred time that is spent as a family forming bonds and actually living, and loving, together as a unit.
    It seems the idea today is to start work as early as possible (or get in a large debt initially by going to uni), then work far more hours to make ends meet, and also work continually beyond our increasing pension age…
    What next, a brave new world?
    Spencer recently posted..8 Top Tips to Creating Backlinks to Your BlogMy Profile

    May 15, 2012 at 6:29 pm (4 years ago)

    Hello, so sorry to read you and your son had a dreadful birthing experience. My daughter came out alabaster white and not breathing. I know the hell that plunges you into. And re maternity leave, you make the point so well. It is all very well saying that the additional leave can go to the man or the woman can ‘negotiate’ with her employer. We can all see what the reality of this would be for many women – 18 weeks and that is it. Make statutory maternity leave into statutory parental leave and make it a year long and then you’re talking. That’s what they do in Denmark and it works. So, why can’t we manage it here? recently posted..Top Cat: The Movie – Yip, Top Cat is Back!My Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      May 15, 2012 at 7:35 pm (4 years ago)

      We never seem to get it right! As a trainee (I’m a teacher) I attended a seminar about oversees education and in Finland they have the best system going. They start school at age 6, learn to read at age 7 etc etc. Our government heard all of this and they only thing they picked up was the fact that all teachers over there have a masters. So now we have to get a masters! We seem to admire other countries but never quite manage to follow suit!


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