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American parents in the BuzzFeed Community recently shared their disappointing parental leave experiences, and proved America is so far behind the rest of the world on this issue.

A quote from the previous post reads: "My son was born on a Wednesday and I was back to work on a Monday"


Read these disappointing parental leave stories from Americans here.

Well, parents from around the world were shocked by what they read. Here are some of their comments that demonstrate just how wildly different parental leave is handled outside of our country:


“In New Zealand, you can have up to 36 weeks paid leave. It’s absolutely scary to think about jobs with no leave. How do you expect any productivity without adequate breaks?”



“This is so stupid! I’m from Denmark and I got a year paid from my work. The state paid for my boyfriend to be home two weeks before the baby was born and then five months after. WTF America?”



“I’m from Estonia, where you can stay home with your baby for up to three years, and for two of those years you get 100% of your pay. Your job is also protected, meaning when you go back after two to three years, your employer cannot fire you until one year of being back. It’s crazy how much you are protected at your job in Estonia.”

“Also, you can have babies back-to-back. That means if you have a second baby or third, you can just keep going and can stay on maternity leave. I have friends who’ve stayed home six years and went back to work after that.

I live in America now and when I had a baby, they expected me to go back to work six weeks after having my son (unpaid six weeks). 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️”



“In Sweden, you get 18 months off with 80% of your salary. I think three of those months only can be used by the father to encourage fathers to take more parental leave. The father also gets 10 days off at birth. Parents are also able to reduce their work week to 30 hours per week instead of 40 hours until the child turns 8 years old without risking their job.”


A mother and father happily hold a baby in a kitchen

Johner Images / Getty Images


“I live in Sweden, and to me the most heartbreaking thing is seeing how happy those Americans are who got 24 weeks (and not all paid), because the system is so messed up that to them it does feel like a lot. But in reality, it’s still less than what’s mandatory in most other countries.”



“Canadian here. The government allows you to take 18 months off paid at a lower salary rate (55%). My company topped up my salary to 100% for the first six weeks.”

“I was also able to take all my vacation and life days at 100% salary. All told, I ended up taking off just over 21 months. We also didn’t have to pay any hospital bills because of our healthcare system. It’s horrible reading the experiences of mothers in the US. Something needs to change. It’s straight-up abuse.”



“On top of Canada’s parental leave policies, you also get a child tax benefit (free money) every month for each of your kids until they’re 18. And if you’re low-income, you can apply for subsidized childcare, wherein the government directly sends money to day cares and you pay the part they don’t.”

“My husband is American and when he moved to Canada, he almost didn’t believe me when I told him all of this.”



“This is pretty upsetting to me. In Portugal, we have four months paid at 100% or five months paid at 87%. You can extend the maternity leave to a sixth month and Social Security will still pay, I guess, 40%. The father has 10 to 15 days (mandatory!) after the birth and can take a full month after the mother’s leave — all 100% paid.”

“Even if they are unemployed, the parents get paid to stay with the baby. Children have free medical care until their 18th birthday too, in the public healthcare system.”


A mother smiles as her baby touches her mother's cheek

Paulo Sousa / Getty Images


“In Slovenia, we have one year paid maternity leave. The government pays us 100% of our salary for that year (instead of the employer), and it is illegal for your employer to terminate your employment because of pregnancy or during maternity leave.”

“Dads get 30 days of paid paternity leave, from which 15 have to be used immediately after birth of the child and the other 15 days can be used anytime until the child enters the first grade of primary school.”



“In Slovenia, in addition to having a one-year long maternity leave at full pay, it’s also possible to work half-time after you return to work up until the kid enters primary school. I feel so horrible reading about the USA.”

“I feel bad for mothers not even being able to heal properly after pushing a child out and then not being able to bond with the child in peace at home.”



“This is all heartbreaking to me. I live in Canada and my daughter is three months old. I can’t imagine having to leave her for eight hours of the day. I’m dreading the one-year mark going back to work. I don’t know how moms in the States survive that kind of emotional trauma.”



“So sorry for everyone here. Heartbreaking to read. American employers obviously have no respect for parents or families. It makes me grateful to be in the United Kingdom, where I didn’t have to think about work until my baby was nearly one and I got paid the whole time (not full pay the whole time but a large enough percentage).”


Woman playing with baby son (6–11 months) at home

10’000 Hours / Getty Images


“Hungary is one year full pay, while in the second and third year you receive a percentage of your salary (the second year is more than the third). So you don’t actually have to go back to work for THREE YEARS!!! Unless you want/need to because of money or other reasons.”



“I live in Hungary and can’t even imagine how could I leave my newborn at home. My heart is breaking for these US moms. I guess there are some benefits living in a post-USSR country.”



“I live in Russia. Never took my maternity leave but was granted an option to work from home, which I did throughout my last trimester of pregnancy and for the six months after giving birth.”

“The state provides childcare, for which I pay a small fee. If someone’s child gets sick, everyone’s understanding and that person isn’t required to be at work then. I know I lucked out big time.”



“This is crazy. I’m pregnant with my first now in the UK and I can’t imagine either having to go back so soon or being without any kind of income for that amount of time. What happens if you have a C-section? Recovery for that is 6–8 weeks. Are you just expected to be in? What about if your baby is premature and in intensive care?”


A baby sits on her dad's shoulders

Sally Anscombe / Getty Images


“In Ireland, a woman gets six months paid maternity leave and the option of six more months unpaid. At a minimum, you get statutory maternity pay from the government for the six months (I think it’s approximately €250 a week).”

“Your employer has the option to top this up so you still have the same pay. I’m lucky that my employer does this. Paternity leave for two weeks is also available. None of the above includes your annual leave or public holidays. Ireland is nowhere near the ideal scenario for parents, but the US is appalling.”



“I live in France and here the paid maternity leave is 16 weeks: six weeks before the planned birth date and then 10 weeks after the birth.”



“I feel so awful for all of you guys! I’m Canadian and in my province (Quebec), you can get up to a whole year of maternity/parental leave. And you ALSO have to pay for a hospital bill?! Damn you’re strong people for deciding to have children anyway in all those conditions!”



“As a soon-to-be mom living in Denmark, I am absolutely horrified by these stories. I really feel sad for those who have to go back to work so soon. It’s not beneficial to anyone, not even the employer, who would probably get a much more thriving workforce from letting people stay home with their infants for a while.”


Young mother with cute little daughter using and looking at smartphone with joy while riding on subway

D3sign / Getty Images


“Reading this was heartbreaking. In New Zealand, we get six months paid then have the option of six months unpaid. I can’t imagine going back to work before six months. It’s only the biggest adjustment one needs to make in their life. We are so, so lucky here. I really feel for everyone who has to go to back to work ASAP.”



“I’m in Finland, where all moms are given a year off but can take off up to three years. And their job has to hold their position. I can’t even imagine the moms that have to go back when their children are so, so tiny!”



“I’m in Israel and 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 (like five hours a week) and transfer the rest to my husband who got to take the rest of the leave 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 if you worked any job at all on the books for 10 of the past 12 months OR (I think) 15 of the past 18 months… Not sure about the second part.

After the 15 weeks, I could have taken another 15 weeks of unpaid leave, and my job HAD to take me back at the exact same pay and to give me a paid hour every day for pumping/leaving early to go home to nurse. I couldn’t be fired within six months of returning (unless the employer went to labor court to get a special approval) 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.

Israel might not have the best health insurance but it far beats the US.”



“A few weeks is seriously insane. Physically you aren’t even recovered yet, especially if you had a C-section. I live in Sweden, which honestly I’m not crazy about in general but the family benefits are pretty much why we stayed so long. I got a year off, paid, and my husband got an additional three months after that.”


A smiling mom with tattooes holds her baby and a sandwich

Westend61 / Getty Images


“In Germany, I had, I think, two years off paid. Plus, we got Kindergeld (a child allowance) of about €170. America is a disaster.”



“Canadian here. I feel so bad for our American parents. (Parental leave) is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. The fuck ‘Merica?”



“This is awful. I live in the UK and am expecting my first baby in May. I finish work in mid-April to use up my accrued paid holidays, then I get nine months off at full pay. I won’t have to pay a huge medical bill either because of our wonderful NHS. America is so backward for a ‘developed’ nation.”


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Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

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