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Giving birth means going into debt for some mothers in America, but why?

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For American parents, the reward in childbirth is, of course, the baby. Yet, the existing incentives in the healthcare industry are all backward: Costs for mothers and babies continue to climb as health outcomes worsen. And behind these statistics are real parents who often feel out of control or unprepared for the bills that follow a baby's birth.

That's why when Elizabeth Bruenig, an opinion writer at The Washington Post who is currently on maternity leave, tweeted a photo of her hospital bill with the caption "$8,000 to give birth. son of a b", the tweet went viral.

Her mentions quickly filled with photos of other families' hospital bills, stories of impossibly high bills and stories from parents who gave birth in other countries (and walked out of the hospital with a baby and no bill at all).

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With more than 100,000 Twitter followers, Bruenig was perfectly positioned to prompt a conversation about the cost of giving birth in America, and we're glad she did. Because she is far from the only mother dealing with this. Giving birth in America means going into debt for some mothers.

Here are some of their stories:

When she was expecting her second child in 2009, Jessica Pennington was already well aware of the steep costs associated with giving birth in the United States. Hoping to brace for the financial impact, Pennington and her then-husband set aside close to $2,000 to pay the bills that were sure to follow her hospital delivery—despite their private insurance coverage.

"I had no way of knowing the birth was going to be anything but normal," Pennington tells Motherly.

A 2013 report prepared by Truven Health Analytics based on 2010 data shows Pennington could have expected a bill of approximately $3,400 for a standard vaginal delivery or $5,100 for a cesarean birth.

But all did not go according to plan.

Endometriosis further weakened Pennington's uterus after her first birth and the strain of pitocin, a labor-inducing drug, caused Pennington's uterus to "split like a banana peel."

Thankfully her baby was unaffected by the traumatic delivery, but doctors had to fight to first save Pennington's life and then her reproductive system—even though she says a hysterectomy would have been her first choice if she or her husband had been consulted.

"They were using things like brand new technologies they never used before," Pennington says, adding surgeons performed a hysterectomy after exhausting their other options. "One procedure alone was $40,000 and it didn't work."

By the time she was released from the hospital, the costs for her medical care topped $140,000. After petitioning for more insurance coverage, that left Pennington and her ex with a bill of $30,000—an unfathomable amount on their full-time student, part-time employee budgets.

"My education got put on hold so that I could make any kind of money to even buy groceries," Pennington says, adding the couple was initially unable to make the minimum $150 monthly payments. "Now, looking back it doesn't seem like much, but when you're not working and trying to pay for college and trying to raise two kids and maintain a normal house and lifestyle and groceries, it was just unheard of."

Childbirth costs in the United States continue to climb, even as outcomes worsen

Although Pennington's experience was more dramatic than most, even by-the-books deliveries come with growing price tags for American families: According to the report prepared by Truven Health Analytics, out-of-pocket costs for maternal care quadrupled from between 2004 and 2010.

Upon a close inspection of bills, some medical charges may seem exorbitant—such as a single pill of acetaminophen (or Tylenol) topping $30, according to the 2016 Trends in Hospital Inpatient Drug Costs report from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Other charges may even be inexplicable. That was the case for Amy Sallie, a mother of four, who delivered her second baby on the floor of the emergency room minutes after walking into the hospital.

"Here's the fun thing, I got billed for all of the normal expenses," Sallie tells Motherly. "Labor and delivery room, all the normal stuff. And I'm just thinking like, 'I literally gave birth in your hallway. What are you talking about?'"

For parents who are trying to navigate life with a newborn, it can be hard enough to scan the intrapartum bills in detail—let alone figure out how to start debating charges or requesting more insurance coverage. To limit potential surprises, Hector De La Torre, executive director of Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS), tells Motherly that expectant families should consider their health insurance options and make sure they will be in-network for care.

"A substantial subset of millennials do not feel very informed about the health insurance options available to them and find decision making about health insurance plans difficult," he says.

While costs have been rising, outcomes for mothers have been worsening: According to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate in the United States has steadily climbed since the mid-1980s. This gives America the distinction of having the worst rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, according to a 2016 report published in the journal The Lancet.

The current maternal healthcare system rewards complications

The current rate of cesarean births in the United States is nearly 32%, which is more than double the number that is estimated to be medically necessary by the World Health Organization. This single data point is representative of the larger trend of intervention-intensive maternity care, which is often not in the best interest of low-risk mothers—or their bank accounts.

"Birth costs are inflated by probably a lot of things that people don't need and things that can also unintentionally pose harm," says Carol Sakala, Director of Childbirth Connection Programs at the National Partnership for Women & Families, which collaborated with Truven Health Analytics on the 2013 report. "You have a greater likelihood of things like bleeding and infection and so forth when you're taking surgical steps and giving powerful drugs."

While options such as medically inducing labor or offering an epidural are often presented as "not an issue" to mothers, Sakala says these steps may be the start of "a very intervention-intensive birth for a population that is by and large low-risk and healthy."

However, the dominant healthcare structure doesn't actually offer incentives for positive outcomes.

"The essential point is that the fee for service system we have now, adding up all these different fees from all these different services, is not tied in the least to value," Sakala says. "It doesn't matter if you did something that was a good thing to do or not, it doesn't matter if you got a good outcome or not."

'We're heading in the direction' of a better option

Although it hasn't yet been reflected by healthcare costs or outcomes, Sakala says there is reason to be optimistic due to a growing movement behind "bundled" or episode-based care. Currently offered through Medicaid programs in Ohio, Tennessee and Arkansas, as well as with some Cigna plans, this payment structure controls the costs for families and encourages better outcomes from the very start of maternal care.

Unlike the current standard, this system rewards healthcare providers for positive outcomes—such as lower rates of C-sections and higher rates of breastfeeding—or, in some cases, penalizes them for negative outcomes.

"Now it gets their attention that they're not only providing services and business as usual, as we are accustomed to in the current cultural ethos of maternity care," Sakala says, "but they are paying attention to what is going to get the best outcome and trying to work together to do that."

What can expectant parents do to control costs?

For what it says about transparency in the healthcare system in general, it is actually difficult to find estimates for childbirth costs in the United States. De La Torre recommends expectant parents familiarize themselves with their insurance policies from the beginning of maternal care. And tools such as that provided by the non-profit consumer group FAIR Health can help individuals estimate childbirth costs in their own states.

Beyond that, remember you are your best advocate. One surprising finding from the Truven Health Analytics report is that uninsured women paid less on average for childbirth services than mothers with insurance. The reason behind that may be twofold—and comes with a lesson for all families: For one, uninsured women may be slower to accept unnecessary interventions, which lowers their overall costs.

They may also be more proactive about petitioning their bills, which is something all families can do. As Sakala says, "This figure told me that hospitals by and large are ready to negotiate."

Looking back on her experience, Pennington says her insurance company was also easy enough to work with—but it was the pure scope of their debt that cast a shadow over a time that should have been happier.

"To be honest, the whole first year after that was a blur," she says. "It was rough. I think we have everything paid off now, eight and a half years later, but every once and a while something will creep up from 2009 and we're like, 'Oh my gosh.'"

[A version of this story was first published April 17, 2018. It has been updated.]

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It's that time of year again—and, no, we don't mean back to school. If you're in the market for any baby products, mama, it turns out that September is the time to pick them up, as it's Best of Baby Month at Walmart.com. If you're just hearing about what this is now, don't worry, you've got plenty of time to get in on the savings. It's essentially just like a month-long Black Friday for baby essentials (read: massive savings on baby items happening online now through September 30th.) Yes, we know, we think that it's amazing, too.

Even better, when it comes to high chairs, baby monitors, strollers, and nursery necessities, Walmart.com has your budget in mind, and your baby's safety at heart. Whether you're rounding out your registry or updating your gear to prepare for a new sibling, here's how to save big on a few of our personal favorites online.

Evenflo ExerSaucer Bounce and Learn

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With toys they can touch, see and hear, your little one will stay busy—and safe!—in this adorable tea party-themed activity center. Baby can rock, spin, and bounce, which strengthens their muscles, and you can easily remove and machine wash the padded seat cover when it's time for a cleaning.

Price: $44 (regularly $59)

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Tommee Tippee Pump + Go Complete Breast Milk Set

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Mamas who pump know that they don't call breast milk liquid gold for nothing; it's devastating to lose even a single drop. This innovative set includes an adapter that fits most pumps and breast milk pouches that can be filled, stored, warmed, and placed in bottles for feeding. There's even a storage case to keep your fridge or freezer from overflowing with filled pouches.

Price: $48.99 (regularly $99.99)

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MobiCam HDX Smart HD WiFi Baby Monitoring Camera

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Whether you're just downstairs in the living room or living it up on a much-needed date night, you can keep an eye on baby from the convenience of your phone. The high-definition camera, which pans and tilts to let you see every corner of the room, offers exceptional night vision as well as two-way audio so you can listen and respond. Motion alerts and notifications mean you won't miss a thing, even when you're not glued to your phone.

Price: $43.99 (regularly $59.99)

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Safe Dream Wearable Blanket

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Babies spend a lot of time sleeping, which means you'll want to stock up so there's always a wearable blanket at the ready. The safe alternative to loose blankets, this HALO design helps baby warm and cozy to help him sleep soundly through the night… and much of the day, too!

Price: $11.99 (regularly $15.99)

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Evenflo Pivot Xpand Modular Travel System

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There's so much to love about this car seat and stroller travel system, from its self-standing fold to its oversized storage basket to its flip-flop friendly brake. The modular design can accommodate one or two seats in up to 22 different configurations, so you can push baby and big brother or sister in one stroller, and its lightweight frame is easy to transport (because, we get it, you have your hands full).

Price: $322.22 (regularly $352.22)

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South Shore Angel 4 Drawer Chest

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Round drawer pulls and a curvy bottom edge lend chic French country style to this simple chest of drawers. Made from eco-friendly materials, it's easy to assemble and the perfect size for a nursery (and then a big kid's room!). To complement a room of any color scheme, the small dresser is also available in chocolate brown, cherry wood and gray.

Price: $119 (regularly $149)

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This article is sponsored by Walmart . Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The internet moves so fast it can seem like you're missing out on all the good news and only seeing the bad, but here at Motherly we know that there is so much good in the world and even on the internet.

In an age when outrage and anger dominate online spaces, we fill this space with uplifting news each week. We recognize that life is hard right now. Mamas have a lot to worry about. This week's viral headlines included the fact that giving birth costs a ton (which of course isn't news to anyone who has given birth recently) and a pregnant star's boyfriend publicly taking a stand against epidurals (good thing he's not the one giving birth). Stories like those are important but can be, frankly, exhausting.

So here are the stories that made us smile this week to perk you up, mama:

This viral video of toddler besties hugging will melt your heart

Social media users are going crazy over this adorable video of two toddler boys hugging in the street...and we can't say we blame them. As parents, we're constantly trying to capture the cutest moments from our kids' day-to-day lives—and one New York dad recently struck gold when he managed to snag a video of his son and his "bestie" running into each other's arms.

The dad, Michael Cisneros, took a video of his son, Maxwell, spotting his best friend on a New York street. The scene is absolutely precious: Maxwell and his friend, Finnegan, are so obviously overjoyed to see one another. They run straight towards each other and hug, and our hearts completely melt every single time we watch it unfold.

We aren't the only ones who can't get enough of this adorable video—Cisneros posted the clip on his Facebook and it is (unsurprisingly) going viral.

"This is just so beautiful. Finnegan + Maxwell= BESTIES!!! If we could all be like this," Cisneros writes alongside the photo.

According to Cisneros, the boys have been friends for about a year. "When they are away from each other, they are always asking about one another," he tells ABC News. "They go to music class together...and they love to dance—both are excellent dancers."

Social media users can't get enough of these sweet toddlers and their friendship. "This just made my year," one social media user comments. "Bless your beautiful little guy and his equally beautifully bestie! I watched this several times in a row. Thanks for sharing all that joy! ❤️" another adds.

We couldn't love this more! In addition to just being really, really cute, this clip teaches us how important these special friendships are, and how you're never too young to make these bonds. Kudos to this dad for recognizing these special moments, and props to these sweet toddlers for spreading so much love.

Viral birth story: This teacher gave birth at school + her colleagues helped 

Mom and teacher Lindsay Agbalokwu was due to give birth to her second child on September 17, so when she walked into work weeks before that date she thought it would be like any other day. She could not have imagined she would end up giving birth on school grounds, with her colleagues (including one of her close friends) by her side.

But early in the morning, she found herself in pain and the school's vice principal went to enlist her friend and fellow teacher, Marissa Kast, to come and help her. When Kast found her friend, she knew it was clear things were progressing. She didn't yet know that her friend's baby would be born very shortly, on school grounds.

"I told our vice principal 'I'm taking her to the hospital'...So I got my car, I had to pull it around to the other side of the building where Lindsay was," Kast tells Motherly.

By the time Kast moved her car she could see the school's principal, Natalie Lewis, and dean of students, Chris Earls were helping Agbalokwu out of the school. The pregnant teacher "was barely standing on her own and then she was in labor," Kast explains. As the principal dialed 911, Agbalokwu's water broke.

Kast happened to have a sleeping bag in her car, so she placed it on the sidewalk and had the expectant mother lay down while an emergency dispatcher gave the educators instructions to assist with the delivery.

"[I thought] please let them get here in time. Like, I do not want to deliver a baby," Kast says. "This was not on my agenda for today. And so we lay her down, we kind of got her settled and then I heard sirens and I was like, 'I hear sirens, just hold on like you can do this'...She had Chris on one side, Natalie on the other and she clutching their hands, pretty much breaking them."

Soon a fire truck was there and firefighters were delivering little baby Zara into the world. Kast says she's forever grateful to those firefighters who showed up and helped her friend in the nick of time.

"We got her ready, we were there helping her, like coaching her, but they are the two that delivered this baby," she says.

Kast knew Agbalokwu's husband would be sad to have missed the birth of the couple's second child, so she channeled her inner birth photographer and snapped a couple of photos of mama and baby before calling Agbalokwu's husband and instructing him to meet them at the hospital.

Once her friend was safely at the hospital, Kast returned to the school to teach seventh grade before heading back to the hospital in the evening to have pizza with Zara's parents.

We imagine Agbalokwu never expected for her school's fellow teacher, principal and dean to step in and help her while she was in labor, but hey—they did what needed to be done. And we couldn't be more impressed by how it all unfolded.

The Agbalokwus are now resting up at home with Zara's big brother Zeke, and Kast still cannot believe that her friend had a baby so quickly, at school, on the sleeping bag she just happened to have in her car.

This father's advice to partners of breastfeeding mamas is #dadgoals

Muhammed Nitoto is the dad behind the popular Instagram account @ChroniclesofDaddy and this week he is going viral for the sweetest list of ways partners can help breastfeeding moms.

Nitoto wanted to "drop some knowledge on his fellow dads and soon-to-be dads" so he made a list of what fathers should be aware of when it comes to breastfeeding and he agreed to let Motherly share his list .

Here are his top 5 tips for new dads:

"1. For night feedings. When mom wakes up in the middle of the night. You get up and ask if she needs any help or water. The truth is most of the time she will say no but just the fact that you offered will go far.

"2. Ask mom if she can pump and then pick 1 feeding that you will always do. Mom will take on almost everything and will burn herself out if you let her. At times you may have to force her to rest without worrying about the baby. This is an easy way to do that without a fight.

"3. Don't put a time limit on how long mom breastfeed the baby. It's not just about feeding your child it's about them bonding as well. I know everyone has a diffrent length of time they will breastfeed and as a Dad it's hard to fully understand. Do not I repeat DO NOT try and rush this process it's not our place and it's not safe. You will open yourself up to a fight you can't win.

"4. Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important yet. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.

"5. Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a childs life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. "

Thanks for the advice, Nitoto! Share this with a dad who you know wants to help!

This mom's viral tweet proves why working #momguilt is so unnecessary

Now she's a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who teaches journalism at Kent State University, but back in 1989, Connie Schultz was a working mom who, like many of us, was wracked with mom guilt.

That year, Schultz snapped a photo of her toddler daughter, Cait, imitating her while she was on the phone doing an interview. This week, she tweeted that photo alongside another, more recent picture of Cait, taken in 2016 as testified before a state committee about the need for paid parental leave while wearing her own baby.

"In '89, I'm doing phone interview & see toddler Cait imitating me. 1st thought: Oh, no. 2nd thought: Oh, wow. In '16, Cait wears 3-mo-old Milo as she testifies before RI leg committee on need for paid sick leave for all families. My working-mom guilt was a such a waste of time," Schultz captioned the two side-by-side images.

It's true. Schultz should not feel guilty, and neither should any working mother.

Research shows us that daughters of working mothers earn 23% more than daughters of mothers who never worked for pay outside the home and that sons of working mothers grow up to do twice as much unpaid work around the house.

Of course, not all moms want to work, and it is absolutely possible to have awesome outcomes like these even if you don't, but a lot of moms do want to do paid work. Motherly's second annual State of Motherhood survey found a "desire to participate in work outside the household" is a common feeling for millennial moms.

When our kids pretend to send emails or take work calls we should not be wracked with guilt, we should be filled with pride because they are watching be the people we want to be and know that they can do it too.

[A version of this post was published September 10, 2019. It has been updated.]

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Neil Patrick Harris is an excellent communicator. He's an amazing actor and just released his third young adult novel, The Magic Misfits: The Minor Third. But now that Neil's twins, 8-year-olds Harper and Gideon, are in third grade Neil and his husband, chef David Burtka, are having to get more intentional about the way they communicate with their kids.

Specifically, they're going beyond asking, "How was your day?" because Neil (like many parents) knows that asking the question this way typically leads to one-word answers.

"It takes a minute to remember that yes or no questions, at least to 8 and 9-year-olds, doesn't really encourage them to embellish very much," Neil told Motherly while promoting his partnership with Quaker Chewy to help drive donations to Adopt a Classroom, a non-profit that helps get school supplies into classrooms.

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Harris is passionate about getting teachers and kids the school supplies they need, and he's also passionate about finding out what his kids get up to in their classrooms. According to Harris, the key to getting kids to open up is taking this question further and giving kids a direction to take the conversation in.

"I try to ask them questions as if it is some kind of game. 'Tell me three things that happened today at school—one that was funny, one that was exciting and one that was a little bit scary,'" he explains.

The father of two says this helps the kids take on the challenge of opening up and having a conversation, rather than just serving up rote replies. That's why Harris tries not to ask things like, "What did you learn today?" or, "How was school?" (but like all of us, he sometimes slips up).

"Because unless they really want to share a specific thing, there's so many options on how to answer those kinds of questions. I ask them myself, but I catch myself. You're gonna have to be a little more bespoke in your questioning to get the answers you want."

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For so many parents, finding and funding childcare is a constant struggle. How would your life change if you didn't have to worry about finding and paying for quality childcare? Would you go back to work? Work more hours? Or just take the four figures you'd save each month and pay off your student loans faster?

These hypothetical scenarios played in the minds of some American parents last night when—during the opening moments of the third Democratic debate—the Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julián Castro, called for a bold new vision for America that includes universal pre-K.

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Some of his fellow presidential hopefuls agree that the time has come for better access to childcare and early childhood education in America.

Joe Biden also wants to see "high-quality, universal pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds". Sen. Bernie Sanders says "states should receive funding for universal pre-kindergarten programs and full-day kindergarten." Sen. Cory Booker says "the federal government should guarantee that all children have access to high-quality pre-K." Andrew Yang, too says he will "create a plan for universal pre-kindergarten education."

Meanwhile, Sen, Kamala Harris and Beto O'Rourke support the Child Care for Working Families Act (which would cap how much families are spending on childcare at 7% of household income), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar supports free universal pre-K for low-income families.

And of course, Senator Elizabeth Warren has her much-discussed plan for free or affordable "high-quality child care and early education for every child in America" which includes kids outside of the 3 and 4-year-old pre-K cohort. She's looking to get free or affordable childcare for every kid in America, from birth to school age.

Universal pre-K and childcare will be a cornerstone of Warren's campaign for 2020. It's a lofty goal, but is it doable?

Supporters note it's been done in other countries for decades. In Finland, for example, every child has had access to free universal day care since the early 1990s. Sweden, too, has been building its universal childcare system for decades.

Critics of Warren's plan worry about the price tag and potential for ballooning bureaucracy, and some are concerned that subsidizing childcare could actually make it more expensive for those who have a government-funded spot, as it could result in fewer private childcare providers.

But subsidized childcare had lowered prices in other places. In Sweden, parents pay less than $140 USD to send children to preschool. In Finland, the cost per child varies by municipality, household income and family size. A parent on the lower end of the income spectrum might pay as little as the equivalent of $30 USD, and the maximum fee is about $330 a month.

But Finland's population is on par with Minnesota's. Sweden is comparable to Michigan.

So could the Nordic model scale to serve the hundreds of millions of families in America?

As Eeva Penttila, speaking as the head of international relations for Helsinki, Finland's education department once told The Globe and Mail, "you can't take one element out and transfer it to your own country. Education is the result of culture, history and the society of a nation."

Right now America spends less on early childhood education than most other developed countries (only Turkey, Latvia, and Croatia spend less), but that wasn't always the case. This nation does have a history of investing in childcare, if we look back far enough.

Back in World War II, when women needed to step into the workforce as men fought overseas, America invested in a network of childcare to the tune of $1 billion (adjusted to today's money) and served hundreds of thousands of families in almost every state through center-based care. Parents paid between $0.50 and $0.75 per child per day (the equivalent of about $10 in today's money).

So America does have a historical and cultural precedent, not to mention a current model of universal preschool that is working, right now, in the nation's capital. In D.C. In Washington, D.C., 90% of 4-year-olds attend a full-day preschool program for free, according to the Center for American Progress. Seventy percent of 3-year-old are going too, and the program has increased the city's maternal workforce participation rate by more than 10%.

It won't happen overnight

While some American parents might be daydreaming of a life without a four-figure day care bill in 2020, the road to true universal childcare for all children in America would be a long one. Peter Moss, a researcher at the University of London's Institute of Education, previously told The Globe and Mail it took Sweden "many years to get it right."

Indeed, the 1990s saw long wait lists at Swedish day cares, but the growing pains of the '90s paved the way for the enviable system Swedes enjoy today.

According to Moss, governments in other countries look at the Nordic model and "tend to say, 'We can't do that.' But what they really mean is 'We can't suddenly do that.' In other countries, they just don't get to grips with what needs doing and actually plot a course."

Maybe America's starting point is found in its history books, or in the modern day preschools of the nation's capital, or in the conversations happening between now and 2020. It doesn't have to be Warren's plan, but America does need a plan for safer, more affordable childcare.

[A version of this post was originally published February 21, 209. It has been updated.]

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What happens when men get paternity leave (and actually take it)? In America, most fathers take less than two weeks off after the birth of a child so there's not enough information to draw any data, but in Spain when fathers got parental leave they started wanting fewer children.

As first reported by Quartz, most dads in Spain have been getting two weeks of parental leave since 2007, and the amount was doubled to four weeks in 2017. In 2018, the dads got another extra week and more increases are expected. It makes sense that the program will be expanded because it's been super successful: Dads who take parental leave still go back to work, but are more engaged with their children, and the moms are more likely to get back to work because they have an engaged partner to help carry the load.

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That's what researchers found when they looked back on the data, but that also found something surprising: After taking parental leave, the dads in Spain now want fewer kids.

In a study published in the Journal of Public Economics researchers suggest the reason Spanish dads might want fewer kids now is because they're more aware of how hard it is to bring up kids. At the same time, mothers started showing an interest in having slightly more children, suggesting that when the workload is more evenly shared, motherhood is more enjoyable.

There are a number of factors at play here, and it's really impossible to say if the paternity leave policies are the only reason why Spanish moms and dads are rethinking the right number of children for their families, but we know this: Right now a lot of dads want to be doing more childcare, but feel like they can't. At the same time, fathers are happier than mothers because when they do spend time with their kids, it's more often on fun things.

A recent study out of the University of California Riverside found that dads are more likely to be playing with the kids while moms are more likely to be doing the "work" of raising kids. But as the Spanish data suggests, when dads are able to take the time to do some of the day-to-day stuff, both parents benefit.

It follows that parental leave for dads is good for fathers and mothers and babies. Dads don't go back to work so early that they feel like they're not really a parent, moms have support and a partner who truly understands the demands of parenting, and babies are healthier. We also know that when dads take leave they feel more engaged in fatherhood and infant mortality rates go down.

Other countries can't copy and paste Spain's paternity leave policy, but we can certainly learn from it when making our own.

[This post was originally published May 16, 2019.]

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