Parents of premature babies and doctors are demanding that maternity leave be extended by the time the child stays in the hospital after birth. They explain that mothers of prematurely born children cannot spend all their time with them during hospitalization, hence “the feeling of robbing them of time together.” Almost a thousand people have already signed a petition on this matter.
An appeal for an urgent change in the law that will allow mothers of premature babies and newborns requiring hospitalization to be provided with full-paid sick leave for child care until the baby is discharged home sent by the Coalition for Premature Babies Foundation and seven organizations co-creating the National Agreement Together for Premature Babies. As we read on the petition’s website, the call is supported by the national consultant in the field of neonatology, Professor Ewa Helwich, and the Polish Neonatological Society.
A call for longer holidays
“The current legal status requires maternity leave to begin with the birth of a premature baby and allows it to be interrupted only after eight weeks. Mothers of premature babies feel deprived of maternity leave during the hospitalization of their seriously ill children,” argue the organizations.
As it was emphasized, “the period of fighting for the life and health of their babies cannot be called maternity leave.” “Unfortunately, mothers of hospitalized children cannot spend all their time with their sick child, hence the feeling of being robbed of their time together. These are exactly the words used by desperate mothers who have a shortened time to stay with their child at home after discharge from the hospital,” we read.
“The common opinion says that a premature baby is the same as a full-term baby, only smaller. This is not true. A premature baby is an immature newborn, its chances of survival depend on the week of pregnancy in which it is born and its birth weight. Its organs are not developed , and the status changes from hour to hour,” the authors of the petition point out.
As they add, “extremely premature babies spend up to several months in the hospital, and mothers suffer not only from fear for their child’s life, but also from regret that they miss their maternity leave and that time spent together with a special needs child passes, which is also different from maternity leave with a full-term baby.
“We appeal for the mother of every premature baby and newborn requiring hospitalization after birth to be entitled to fully paid sick leave for child care, and for maternity leave to begin when the child is discharged home. Additionally, mothers of premature babies currently on maternity leave are asking for extending this leave by the time the child spent in the hospital,” we read.
Until 9:30 a.m. on Thursday petition signed by over 900 people.
Premature babies in Poland
Thousands of premature babies are born in Poland. In 2022, there were almost 23,000 babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy.
At the beginning of 2024, a pilot KORD program (Comprehensive Developmental Care for a Child Born Prematurely) is to be launched, the aim of which is to provide premature babies and their caregivers with care through the implementation of a full set of services, access to diagnostics, therapy and medical rehabilitation.
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