A new study by Stanford University has revealed just how transformative having a partner at home can be to new mums’ wellbeing.
Mums need support
Economists Maya Rossin-Slater and Petra Persson have just used the Swedish experience to research how dads can impact mums’ health – and the results were pretty staggering.
Their work was based on a law passed in 2012 in Sweden which allows dads to take up to 30 days leave at their own discretion in the twelve months after a baby’s birth.
It turned out that encouraging dads to take days off as needed during the first year of a baby’s life made a huge difference to mums’ health.
For instance, the researchers found that in the first six months after a Swedish baby had arrived there was a 26 percent decrease in anti-anxiety prescriptions when compared with mothers who gave birth just before the dads-at-home law came into effect.
Further, there was a 14 percent decrease in hospitalisations or health specialist visits and an 11 percent reduction in the prescription of antibiotics to these new mums.
Flexible support is important
So why are these dads making such a big difference? The researchers meticulously examined birth records, leave requests and medical records and worked out that the Swedish dads were using their leave when their partners most needed support or to seek medical care.
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It’s also suggested that having dad around meant that mums may have been able to take preventative measures to avoid being unwell (things like getting enough rest or getting early treatment so they didn’t become more seriously ill.)
“A lot of focus has been on what we can do in the hospital immediately following childbirth, but less on mothers’ home environment, which is where the vast majority of women spend most of their postpartum time,” Ms Rossin-Slater said, The New York Times reports.
“What we’re saying is one important component of that home environment is the presence of the father or another adult caretaker.”
So there you have it. If dads are able to support mums as needed during the first year of a baby’s life, everyone wins. Whodathunkit?!
Read more at The New York Times.